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A children’s rights-based approach to human data interaction theory: considering the datafication of children in formal education in England
I have worked in early childhood, primary education and now higher education for the past fifteen years. As a result of this I have a contemporary understanding of what is considered to be good practice as well as the challenges, when considering children, families and practitioners. It was during the delivery of an online session during the Covid-19 pandemic that my interest in Human Data Interaction theory can be traced to, although I did not know it at the time. I was facilitating a debate about a test for four year olds, which was due to become statutory that next September. It was at this moment that I literally had to pause the session and ask the students for a few minutes break. My first born child would be starting school in that very September and I had just realised that he would have to take this test. I was quite taken back by this realisation and shared this with my students at the end of the session. Some of the students were currently working in schools and had been part of a pilot administering this test. Their feedback was not positive and this added to my concerns that such a test would not be appropriate for my son, or four year olds in general, within their first six weeks of formal schooling. This was the beginning of my quest to explore exactly what this test would mean for my child and if I had any say in this as a parent. It actually turned out that I did not have any say, and the fact I did not have any say, opened up a much larger can of worms in my lines of inquiry. My interest became twofold- both as parent and academic. After researching into the assessment more, it became clear that this test was just one part of a much larger wheel that had been turning for quite some time- the datafication and dataveillance of children throughout formal education. This chapter is my attempt to embed some of my real life experiences within the field of Human Data Interaction theory, by questioning how a children’s rights-based approach may be drawn on to support children to develop positive relationships with the processes around them in a postdigital society.