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Data Protection and Freedom of Information Policy

Date Accepted: Summer 2020   

Review Date: Summer 2023

 

Policy Statement

We have a duty to protect the data and information we hold on any individual and will do so in accordance with the guidance and law.

 

Aims & Objectives:

The aim of this policy is to provide a model set of guidelines to enable staff, parents and pupils to understand:

  • The law regarding personal data
  • How personal data should be processed, stored, archived and deleted/destroyed
  • How staff, parents and pupils can access personal data

 

In addition, there is brief guidance at the end of the policy on Freedom of Information which covers other information held by schools.

 

The objective of the policy is to ensure that the school acts within the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 when retaining and storing personal data, and when making it available to individuals, and that the process of responding to enquiries for other information is also legal under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (in force from 1st January 2005).

 

Data Protection – the law:

Under the Data Protection Act 1998, and other regulating acts, access to their own personal information is a statutory right for pupils (if they are of an age to understand the information they request) and parents (as defined in the Education Act 1996) may also request access to their child’s personal data.

School staff have a right of access to personal data on themselves.

Anyone has the right to question and correct inaccurate information, but this must be matters of fact, not opinions.

Personal data should always be kept securely and protected by passwords if it is electronic, and access to it should only be by those authorised to see it – confidentiality should be respected. The law also provides that personal data should not be kept longer than is required.

Third party data (information about someone other than the requesting individual) should in general only be provided with their permission.

There should be a named person with overall responsibility for personal data within each school. In most cases this would be the Head Teacher.

 

Processing, storing, archiving and deleting personal data: guidance

  • Personal data and school records about pupils are confidential to the child. The information can be shared appropriately within the professional working of the school to enable the school to make the best educational provision for the child. The law permits such information to be shared with other educational establishments when pupils change schools.
  • School records for a child should be kept for 7 years after the child leaves the school, or until the child reaches 25 years of age (whichever is greater) and examination records the same.
  • Data on staff is sensitive information and confidential to the individual, and is shared, where appropriate, at the discretion of the Head Teacher and with the knowledge, and if possible the agreement of the staff member concerned.
  • Employment records form part of a staff member’s permanent record. Because there are specific legislative issues connected with these (salary and pension details etc.) these records should be retained as set out by the Surrey County Council.
  • Interview records, CV’s and application forms for unsuccessful applicants are kept for 6 months after the interview.
  • The school may decide to collect and share further data relating to staff which is not covered by the above. This could be for example for the purpose of CPD, celebration, promotion etc. and may be in digital or non-digital format. The processing, storing, accessing, archiving and deleting of such data will be agreed in advance with the staff members involved on a case-by-case basis.
  • All formal complaints made to the Head Teacher or School Governors will be kept for at least seven years in confidential files, with any documents on the outcome of such complaints. Individuals concerned in such complaints may have access to such files subject to data protection and to legal professional privilege in the event of a court case.

 

Accessing personal data: guidance

  • A child can request access to his/her own data. The request is not charged and does not have to be in writing. The staff will judge whether the request is in the child’s best interests, and that the child will understand the information provided. They may also wish to consider whether the request has been made under coercion.
  • A parent can request access to or a copy of their child’s school records and other information held about their child. The request must be made in writing. There is no charge for such requests on behalf of the child, but there may be a charge for photocopying records – this is detailed in guidance available from the Information Commissioner. Staff should check, if a request for information is made by a parent, that no other legal obstruction (for example, a court order limiting an individual's exercise of parental responsibility) is in force.
  • Parents should note that all rights under the Data Protection Act to do with information about their child rest with the child as soon as they are old enough to understand these rights. This will vary from one child to another, but, as a broad guide, it is reckoned that most children will have a sufficient understanding by the age of 12. Parents are encouraged to discuss and explain any request for information with their child if they are aged 12 or over.
  • Separately from the Data Protection Act, The Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005 provide a pupil’s parent (regardless of the age of the pupil) with the right to view, or to have a copy of, their child’s educational record at the school. Parents who wish to exercise this right must apply to the school in writing.
  • For educational records (unlike other personal data; see below) access must be provided within 15 school days, and if copies are requested, these must be supplied within 15 school days of payment.
  • A member of staff can request access to their own records at no charge, but the request must be made in writing. The member of staff has the right to see their own records, and to ask for copies of the records. There is no charge for copies of records.
  • The law requires that all requests for personal information are dealt with within 40 days of receipt except requests for educational records (see above). All requests will be acknowledged in writing on receipt, and access to records will be arranged as soon as possible. If awaiting third party consents, the school will arrange access to those documents already available, and notify the individual that other documents may be made available later.
  • In all cases, should third party information (information about another individual) be included in the information the staff will try to obtain permission to show this information to the applicant, with the exception of information provided by another member of school staff (or local authority staff) which is exempt from a requirement for third party consents. If third party permission is not obtained the person with overall responsibility should consider whether the information can still be released.
  • Personal data should always be of direct relevance to the person requesting the information. A document discussing more general concerns may not be defined as personal data.
  • From 1st January 2005, when the Freedom of Information Act came into force, a request for personal information can include unstructured as well as structured records – for example, letters, emails etc. not kept within an individual’s personal files, or filed by their name, but still directly relevant to them. If these would form part of a wider record it is advisable to file these within structured records as a matter of course and to avoid excessive administrative work. These can be requested if sufficient information is provided to identify them.
  • Anyone who requests to see their personal data has the right to question the accuracy of matters of fact within the data, and to ask to have inaccurate information deleted or changed. They may also question opinions, and their comments will be recorded, but opinions do not need to be deleted or changed as a part of this process.
  • The school will document all requests for personal information with details of who dealt with the request, what information was provided and when, and any outcomes (letter requesting changes etc.) This will enable staff to deal with a complaint if one is made in relation to the request.

 

Fair processing of personal data: data which may be shared

Schools, local education authorities and the Department for Education (DfE) all hold information on pupils in order to run the education system, and in doing so have to follow the Data Protection Act 1998. This means, among other things, that the data held about pupils must only be used for specific purposes allowed by law. The school has a Fair Processing or Privacy Notice which explains how personal data is used and with whom it will be shared. This Notice is published here:

 

Schools, local authorities (LAs), the Department for Education (DfE), the government department which deals with education, the Teaching Agency and Ofsted all process information on pupils in order to run the education system, and in doing so have to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998. This means, among other things, that the data held about pupils must only be used for specific purposes allowed by law. We are therefore writing to tell you about the types of data held, why that data is held, and to whom it may be passed on.

The school holds information on pupils in order to support their teaching and learning, to monitor and report on their progress, to provide appropriate pastoral care, and to assess how well the school as a whole is doing. This information includes contact details, National Curriculum assessment results, attendance information and, characteristics such as ethnic group, special educational needs and any relevant medical information. From time to time schools are required to pass some of this data to LAs, the DfE and to agencies, such as the Teaching Agency and Ofsted that are prescribed by law.

The Local Authority uses information about pupils to carry out specific functions for which it is responsible, such as the assessment of any special educational needs the pupil may have, pupil tracking etc. It also uses the information to derive statistics to inform decisions on, for example, the funding of schools; to assess the performance of schools and for target setting purposes. The statistics are used in such a way that individual pupils cannot be identified from them.

The Teaching Agency uses information about pupils to administer the National Curriculum tests and assessments for Key Stages 1 and 2. The results of these are passed on to the DfE in order for it to compile statistics on trends and patterns in levels of achievement. The Teaching Agency uses the information to evaluate the effectiveness of the National Curriculum and the associated assessment arrangements, and to ensure that these are continually improved.  This information may be shared with other Government departments or agencies strictly for statistical or research purposes only.

OfSTED uses information about the progress and performance of pupils to help inspectors evaluate the work of schools, to assist schools in their self-evaluation, and as part of OfSTED’s assessment of the effectiveness of education initiatives and policy. Inspection reports do not identify individual pupils.

The Department for Education uses information about pupils for research and statistical purposes, to inform influence and improve education policy and to monitor the performance of the education service as a whole. The DfE will feed back to LAs and schools information about their pupils for a variety of purposes that will include data checking exercises, use in self-evaluation analyses and where information is missing because it was not passed on by a former school. The DfE will also provide Ofsted with pupil level data for use in school inspection.

Pupil information may be matched with other data sources that the Department holds in order to model and monitor pupils’ educational progression; and to provide comprehensive information back to LAs and learning institutions to support their day to day business. The DfE may also use contact details from these sources to obtain samples for statistical surveys: these surveys may be carried out by research agencies working under contract to the Department and participation in such surveys is usually voluntary. The Department may also match data from these sources to data obtained from statistical surveys.

Pupil data may also be shared with other Government Departments and Agencies (including the Office for National Statistics) for statistical or research purposes only. In all these cases the matching will require that individualised data is used in the processing operation, but that data will not be processed in such a way that it supports measures or decisions relating to particular individuals or identifies individuals in any results. This data sharing will be approved and controlled by the Department’s Chief Statistician.

The DfE may also disclose individual pupil information to independent researchers into the educational achievements of pupils who have a legitimate need for it for their research, but each case will be determined on its merits and subject to the Department’s Chief Statistician.

Pupils, as data subjects, have certain rights under the Data Protection Act, including a general right of access to personal data held on them, with parents exercising this right on their behalf if they are too young to do so themselves. If you wish to access the personal data held about your child, then please contact the relevant organisation:

  • School at Ash Grange Primary School, Ash Church Road, Ash. GU12 6LX
  • The LA’s Data Protection Officer at Surrey County Council, County Hall, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 2DJ.
  • The Teaching Agency call 0300 100 0100
  • Ofsted’s Data Protection officer at Alexandra House, 33 Kingsway, London WC2B 6SE
  • the DfE’s 0370 000 2288

In order to fulfil their responsibilities under the Act the organisation may, before responding to this request, seek proof of the requestor’s identity and any further information required to locate the information requested.

Separately from the Data Protection Act, regulations provide a pupil’s parent (regardless of the age of the pupil) with the right to view, or to have a copy of, their child’s educational record at the school. If you wish to exercise this right you should write to the school.

Information on how to access personal data held by other organisations is given below.

Pupils, as data subjects, have certain rights under the Data Protection Act, including a general right of access to personal data held on them, with parents exercising this right on their behalf if they are too young to do so themselves. If parents want to request to access the personal data held about their child, they should contact the relevant organisation in writing:

  • the School as above;
  • the LA’s Data Protection Officer at Surrey County Council, County Hall, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 2DJ.

 

Access to other school information – guidance on Freedom of Information Publication Schemes

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the school has a publication scheme, a formal list of the types of non-personal information which the school produces or holds, and which is readily accessible to staff, pupils and parents or other enquirers, follows:

 

The scheme covers information already published and information that is to be published in the future. All information in our publication scheme is available in paper form. Some information that we hold may not be made public, e.g. personal information. This publication scheme conforms to the model scheme for schools approved by the Information Commissioner.

 

Categories of information published:

  • School Brochure
  • Governor Minutes, when the school has a Full Governing Body
  • School Profile
  • School Policies and other information related to the school
  • Data Protection
  • Freedom of Information Notices to pupils
  • Newsletter
  • Website
  • Parent mail
  • Texting

 

How to request information:

Contact the School stating publication required and your name:

Ash Church Road,

Ash,

Surrey,

GU12 6LX

 

Tel: 01252 328589

E-Mail:  office@ash-grange.surrey.sch.uk

Website:  www.ash-grange.surrey.sch.uk

 

Paying for information:

All documents are available to view in the school office. Copies may be requested; a charge will be levied to cover the photocopying cost.

 

Classes of Information Currently Published

  • Information required by Statute

  • School Brochure

  • School Profile

  • School Policies

  • Minutes of the Governing Body *

*Some information might be confidential or otherwise exempt from the publication by law - we cannot therefore publish this

 

Policies and policy statements

A full list is published on the website and at the front of the policy folder in the office foyers.

 

Mental Health and Wellbeing

The school has an established culture that promotes and enhances the positive mental health of the whole school community, recognising that healthy relationships underpin positive mental health and have a significant impact on learning, health and wellbeing. We champion the expectation that ‘mental health is the individual’s responsibility supported by the whole school community.’

 

Feedback and Complaints:

Comments and suggestions are welcome. Please address to the Chairman of Governors Ash Grange Primary School.

 

If you are not satisfied with the response from the Chairman, please contact the Information Commissioner's Office. This is the organisation that ensures compliance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and that deals with formal complaints.  They can be contacted at:

 Information Commissioner Wycliffe House,

 Water Lane

 Wilmslow, Cheshire

 SK9 5AF

Tel:  0303 123 1113                                                                 

Or:

Enquiry Information Line: 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745

Website: https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/  

 

Requests for information

  • The Freedom of Information Act came into force on 1st January 2005. Under this Act, all schools which receive a written or emailed request for information which they hold or publish, are required to respond within 20 working days.
  • A refusal of any information requested must state the relevant exemption which has been applied or that the school does not hold the information, and must explain what public interest test has made if this applies.
  • If the information is published by another organisation (for example, Ofsted reports) the school can direct the enquirer to the organisation which supplied the information or publication unless it is legal and possible to provide the information direct (for example, a copy of the summary of an Ofsted report).
  • It will not be legal to photocopy a publication in its entirety and supply this to an enquirer unless the school owns the copyright.
  • The school will keep the original request and note against this who dealt with the request and when the information was provided.
  • Any complaint about the provision of information will be handled by the Head. All complaints should be in writing and documented. The Publication Scheme will include information on who to contact for both enquiries and complaints.
  • All enquirers should be advised that they may complain to the information Commissioner if they are unhappy with the way their request has been handled.

 

 

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