Search results for 'Data Protection Regulations 2018'

Preparing to implement the General Data Protection Regulations

31 Dec

In Governors’ Agenda, Issue 67 – the summer term issue – we alerted you to the implications of the General Data Protection Regulations that were to come into effect on 25 May 2018.  If your governing board has not begun to address the issue, it is high time that members begin to act.

While it isn’t the function of governors to appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO), as this is an operational matter, they should offer support and scrutiny on her/his appointment.  It is the role of the Headteacher to propose how best to appoint such a person and then take the necessary action to find a suitable person to discharge the functions of securing the data held at the school/academy.

Some schools/academies have decided to use consultancy rather than make DPO appointments.  If that is what your headteacher is proposing to do, governors should closely question her/him about the rationale and criteria for the choice.

Where the headteacher proposes to appoint an existing staff member to undertake the preparatory work, governors should ensure that this person is suitably qualified to do the job and has the time for it.

The governors should appoint one of their members to oversee the work being done in the area of data protection – for want of a better term, “a data protection champion”, who can, when formally visiting the school/academy in the course of the normal school day satisfy herself/himself that the work is being done well.

Data protection should be an item on the agenda of at least one governors’ meeting in the run-up to 25 May 2018.

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Data Protection law to be strengthened in 2018: Impact on Schools

18 Apr

Complying with the requirements of the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998 is daunting.   A problem area is managing sensitive personal data.  Data on ethnicity, religion, union membership, medical information, special educational needs and disability (SEND) status, looked-after children, assistance or bursary recipients and sexual orientation are classed as sensitive. A school must have an operational need and/or explicit consent to process this data otherwise it is in contravention to the DPA.  Only people who need to use sensitive data for professional purposes can access it.  Consequently, such data should be accessed only with a password.

A separate taxing issue is making available all the data the school holds on a person to that person when s/he requests it and do so within one month of the request – part of the Freedom for Information (FoI) Act 2000.

Non-compliance has not led to much trouble so far.  In the second half of 2016, only 40 data security incidents – vis-à-vis the education sector in England – were reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).  However, very few school staff members are trained in how to comply with the DPA.  They will now need to be (trained) because the present system of managing data will change with the General Protection Data Regulations (GPDR) coming into force on 25 May 2018. This is a part of the European law which will take effect despite Brexit.

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Timpson Review on Pupil Exclusions: Government determined to curb off-rolling

12 Aug

I           Exclusion Vignette

A few years ago, a group of inspectors on their way to a school which was to be brought under the watchdog’s microscope were grounded a few hundred yards from their destination because their car had broken down.   Three young lads who saw them offered to help.  They fished out the jack, raised the car on it, opened the bonnet, fiddled with the engine and in little time resolved the problem and set the engine running.

The inspectors were grateful, overjoyed and effusive in their thanks.   They asked these young men who they were and what they had been planning to do.

“We are pupils at ……. School. We were heading back to our homes.”

“Why?” asked the inspectors, “especially as it is a working day.”

“Oh,” said the second boy, “we were told to go home by the headteacher because we have been described as disruptive and informed that inspectors would be visiting the school.”

I am not sure what the outcome of that inspection was as it happened some time ago.  However, it is not unknown for schools and academies to engage in such dubious practices today, even though a school/academy will be given under 24 hours’ notice of an inspection.    What is sad is not only that in some cases excluded pupils miss out on learning, but also that they have considerable potential to learn based on the talents they have (as seen from this incident), if only  schools and academies press the right buttons.

II          The Timpson Review

On 7 May 2019, Edward Timpson, former children’s minister, published his review on the exclusions of pupils.  It made 30 recommendations all of which were accepted by the Government.

Timpson’s review included good and bad news. The good news was that 85% of mainstream schools/academies had not expelled any pupils in the academic year 2016/17. The bad news was that in each of 0.2% institutions that had expelled pupils more than 10 pupils had been excluded in that academic year.  Vulnerable pupils were more likely to be excluded. Altogether, 78% of permanent exclusions were of children who had special needs or classified as being eligible for free school meals.

Fewer Bangladeshi and Indian pupils were excluded than White British, Black Caribbean and mixed White and Caribbean ones.

In October 2017, former Prime Minister, Theresa May appointed Edward Timpson to carry out a review on the exclusions of pupils in schools and academies in response to the Race Disparity Audit. Edward Timpson was asked  to lead the review in March 2018.  He set out to explore how schools use exclusion.

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Our responsibility for vulnerable pupils: landmark exclusion cases

18 Apr

I        Duty of care for vulnerable pupils

The ground on which bulls fight suffers the most. Bulls may damage each other, but it is the battleground that is smothered.   This is what happens when it comes to caring for and educating children, especially the vulnerable ones: the bulls are the adults, the ground the children.    We adults often forget that, we have a profound duty of care for our youngsters and sometimes fall well short of discharging our responsibilities towards them.

While battles rage about how schools and academies should be judged, and they are compared to one another by the Department for Education (DfE), Ofsted, the politicians, school and academy governors, education leaders, parents, academics and consultants (the bulls), the children (the ground) suffers.  The most vulnerable children – those with special educational needs and disabilities – suffer more than most.  In the academic year 2016/17, the latest year for which these statistics are available, SEND pupils constituted nearly 50% of permanent exclusions.  These children were six times more likely to be permanently excluded than those without special needs.  Often, the covert reasons for excluding them is so that the schools and academies can raise their positions in the test and examination league tables.

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