SEND Futures: Privacy notice

How we use your information


You have been invited to take part in SEND Futures, a study of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their parents or carers. This is a national research project commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE). This research will help us to improve the help given to young people who need additional support with their learning.

This work is being carried out by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) on behalf of the DfE. For the purpose of data protection legislation, the DfE is the data controller for the personal data processed as part of the SEND Futures survey and NatCen is the data processor.

The nature of your personal data we will be using

The DfE commissioned NatCen to conduct this research in order to learn more about the experiences of young people with SEND, and the experiences of their parents and carers. By collecting this information, we hope to better understand what kind of support young people with SEND are receiving in their educational settings and whether or not it is meeting their needs. This will help us to provide better support systems in the future.

The personal data that we hold for the study includes:

Information that you share with us during surveys: Survey responses (on topics such as your child’s education) and demographic data (e.g. details about ethnicity, gender, disabilities)

Data relating to family members of study participants: Information about family members provided during your surveys, including the contact details you’ve provided.

Information provided by other organisations: Contact details and demographic information obtained from the National Pupil Database in order to invite you to participate in the first round of research in 2022. Other records in the National Pupil Database (if you give permission to link your survey data).

Why our use of your personal data is lawful

In order for our use of personal data to be lawful, we need to demonstrate that there is a lawful basis for processing. For the purpose of this project, DfE (as the data controller) are meeting the relevant conditions (public task (Article 6(1)(e)) under the General Data Protection Regulation) because the processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller. In this case, the data processing is necessary for the Department for Education to make decisions on national government policy: the information gathered by SEND Futures will provide vital evidence on an under-researched population in order to improve educational provision and ensure that children and young people with SEND are supported by their educational settings.

The processing of this data is required for reasons of substantial public interest under the implied legal powers of the Secretary of State, as it is necessary to promote the education of the people of England and Wales (section 10 of the Education Act 1996).  This work is necessary in relation to the Secretary of State for Education’s responsibilities under the Equalities Act 2010, in that it will inform research which will help to ensure that schools do not discriminate against, victimise, harass or fail to make reasonable adjustments for pupils with disabilities.

This project will also involve the processing of special category data, such as ethnicity and disability. We will lawfully process this data under Article 9 (2) (j) of the GDPR: processing is necessary for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes based on law which shall be proportionate to the aim pursued, respect the essence of the right to data protection and provide for suitable and specific measures to safeguard the fundamental rights and the interests of the data subject.

Who your personal data will be available to

Where we need to share your personal data with others, we ensure that this data sharing complies with data protection legislation. For the purpose of this project, the DfE are employing NatCen to collect and process your personal data on their behalf. This means that researchers will have access to your personal data under the DfE’s terms and conditions. Access to your data is limited to a small team and none of your personal data will be shared with other parties.

How long we will keep your personal data

We will only keep your personal data for as long as we need it for the purpose(s) of this piece of work, after which point it will be securely destroyed. At the end of this project, all personal data will be transferred securely to the DfE. Data will then be deleted from NatCen’s network. A log file will be generated which confirms deletion, which is submitted to the DfE along with a Retention & Disposal form to all relevant senior members of staff to confirm the safe transfer of your data to DfE and deletion from our systems.

Please note that, under Data Protection legislation, and in compliance with the relevant data processing conditions, the DfE can lawfully keep personal data processed purely for research and statistical purposes indefinitely.

Withdrawal from the survey and the right to lodge a complaint

We are processing your data under the “public task” condition, Article 6(1)(e)) under the General Data Protection Regulation. However, we will ask for your permission to link your personal data to our existing records and will not do so if you do not give permission.

This means that we do not rely on your consent as the lawful basis for processing your personal data for the answers you provide in the survey and after you have given permission to the data linkage.

If you change your mind about giving permission to data linkage once you have agreed, you have the right to engage your data protection rights as indicated in the section below.

Your data protection rights

You have the right:

  • to ask us for access to information about you that we hold
  • to have your personal data rectified, if it is inaccurate or incomplete
  • to request the deletion or removal of personal data where there is no compelling reason for its continued processing
  • to restrict our processing of your personal data (i.e. permitting its storage but no further processing)
  • to object to direct marketing (including profiling) and processing for the purposes of scientific/historical research and statistics
  • not to be subject to decisions based purely on automated processing where it produces a legal or similarly significant effect on you

If you need to contact us regarding any of the above, please do so via the DfE site at:

Further information about your data protection rights appears on the Information Commissioner’s website at:

You can do this, or raise any concerns you have about the processing of your personal data, by contacting or by using and stating the name of this project.

If you do not wish to take part in the survey, please let us know by contacting NatCen on Freephone 0800 652 4570 or by email at

You also have the right to raise any concerns with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) via their website at

Last updated

We may need to update this privacy notice periodically so we recommend that you revisit this information from time to time. This version was last updated on 11.04.2023.