"Education tourism" and the school census forms

One of the great benefits of being an immigrant in the UK is the number of ways the government tells you, subtly or overtly, that you are not welcome. Sure, immigrant net tax contributions are welcome, though unacknowledged especially in these Brexit times. And if you're an EU citizen, you're now also a valuable negotiation card, bargaining chip, or now even "negotiation capital". But God forbid that an immigrant should need the public services they pay into. Because then, you're either a health tourist or an education tourist.

As parents are aware, the school census forms now asks (since September 2016) for nationality and country of birth. The intention behind them is not to support pupils, for instance, in learning English as a second language. No, it is "to investigate how much of a “pull factor” state schools are for immigrants with families who decide to move to the UK". Nicki Morgan wanted "to establish whether the increasing levels of immigration to Britain can be attributed in part to “education tourism"".

It is also to create a hostile environment for children of illegal immigrants. Regardless of how you might think about illegal immigrants, if you think it is morally wrong to use census data provided by parents to deny children an education, or to assist in mass deportations, you are right.

Now on to the education tourism. Let that sink in for a moment.

Contrary to what the UK government might think, lots of countries have free state schools. Often with smaller class sizes, better educational attainment (as shown by Pisa and other standard measures). In countries like Belgium, Germany, France, and The Netherlands, only wealthy expats bother sending their children to fee-paying schools, because the state schools are so good.

Poland, the EU-27 country with the largest number of immigrants in the UK outperforms the UK for both reading and maths in the latest Pisa results. The UK is still ahead of Poland in science, but just give it time: chronic underfunding will do the trick. So the Poles didn't come here as education tourists. Neither did the Germans, the French, the Belgians, the Fins, the Estonians, the Danes, etc., etc.

In the UK, I first realized that it is well possible that my children don't get a place in the school nearest to my home because the school is oversubscribed. In other countries I've lived in (yes, I'm a citizen of the world), you don't need to worry about that: there will be a place available in the nearest school. The local council gave my 11-year-old daughter a school place at a school 70 minutes commute from our house, because the nearest secondary school was oversubscribed. We went through an appeal, which was rejected partly on the ground that it was less than 75 minutes each way, and because my daughter did karate, so clearly she had enough energy for the commute. There aren't many places where children are penalised for engaging in sports.

I admire and respect UK teachers, who do their very best under huge work pressure (increased by such things like Ofsted reports) and under adverse conditions. 98% of schools will see their funding cut in this "country that works for everyone". My daughter's school already alerted there will be more waffle bakes and raffles to try to compensate for the lost funding.

They could have the net tax contributions of immigrants to invest in schools. Just to reiterate the BBC in 2014, “EEA immigrants had made a fiscal contribution of £4.4bn between 1995 and 2011, non-EEA immigrants had made a negative net contribution of £118bn, and British people had made a negative net contribution of £591bn”. Instead, our taxes will go to propping up stately homes in the north.

But not to worry. When the British people will be concerned about the lowering of quality of education these cuts will bring, the migrants are there, conveniently to blame.

So when you get your slip for the school census, think deep before filling out this information. You can (still) refuse to give this information.