The purpose of this protocol is to provide the public with information on:
- What is a Personal Education Number (PEN)
- Legislated uses of PEN;
- Conducting research and analysis using PEN.
School Act (PDF, 578KB)
Independent School Act (PDF, 87KB)
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
What is the Personal Education Number?
PEN is a unique nine-digit identification number that can be assigned by the Minister of Education to persons in the following schools and institutions and with respect to the following services:
- Students in BC K-12 public and independent schools;
- Home schooled children registered with BC public or independent schools;
- Children participating in early learning programs, such as Strong Start programs;
- Persons engaged in a program of studies at an educational institution operated by a first nation (at the request of the first nation);
- Non-resident persons who are studying under an agreement between the Minister and a school authority outside of BC, such as in a BC certified offshore school program or the Yukon;
- Students in BC public post-secondary institutions; and
- Persons receiving or applying to receive, financial assistance administered by the BC Student Assistance Program.
The PEN follows the student through their Early Learning, BC K-12 and post secondary education.
Section 170.1 of the School Act (PDF, 578KB) details for what purposes PENs may be used. These uses are:
- determining the amount of the operating grant under section 106.3 or the targeted grant under section 106.4;
- Ensuring the efficient and effective use of grants paid under sections 114 and 115;
- Determining enrolment in an independent school and ensuring the efficient and effective use of grants paid under the Independent School Act;(PDF, 87KB)
- Researching and evaluating the effectiveness of boards, francophone education authorities and authorities governed by the Independent School Act (PDF, 87KB) and the programs, courses and curricula delivered by them;
- Administering the processes referred to in section 168 (2) (d) and (d.1);
- Administering Provincial examinations;
- Issuing graduation credentials and transcripts;
- Awarding Provincial scholarships and bursaries;
- Determining the eligibility of persons to receive reimbursement of expenses under section 11.2 of the Independent School Act (PDF, 87KB) or section 168.1 of the School Act;
- Enabling the services and functions of programs established by the ministry to provide educational services;
- Conducting research and statistical analysis relating to the transition of individuals to post-secondary institutions.
Section 170.4 of the School Act (PDF, 578KB) states that PENS may also be used by the BC Student Assistance Program to:
- administer the program;
- conduct research and statistical analysis related to the program;
- evaluate the effectiveness of the program.
Distribution of Information
- Personal Education Numbers are never released over the phone.
- Personal Education Numbers are only given to the person who has been assigned the PEN, that person’s current or future school (in the case of early registrations), or the parent or guardian of the person if that person is under age of consent. Age of consent in this instance is determined by FOIPP regulations which state that consent to the disclosure of personal information can be given “on behalf of an individual under 19 years of age, by the individual’s parent or guardian if the individual is incapable of exercising those rights”.
- Students must sign for their PEN to be released by the Ministry by completing a Student PEN request form, a transcript request form or a PSI choices form. In the case of student under the age of consent (16 years old), parents or legal guardians may complete the Student PEN request form on their child’s behalf.
Using PEN to conduct research and statistical analysis
As required by s. 35 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, personal information used for research purposes is de-identified at the earliest reasonable time.
PROTOCOL NUMBER 07-05
Date of Issue: July 1, 2007