In the UK and the Channel Islands, data protection laws are governed by the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK. GDPR), the Data Protection Act 2018, Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2018 and the Data Protection (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law 2017. These laws apply to all organisations that process personal data, including schools.
What is the data protection policy in schools and educational facilities?
Personal data is defined as any information that relates to an identified or identifiable individual. In a school environment, this could include student names, addresses, dates of birth, medical information, and academic records, as well as staff payroll and HR records.
Who regulates data protection in schools?
Schools have a responsibility to ensure that personal data is processed lawfully, fairly, and transparently. This means that schools must have a lawful basis for processing personal data and must inform individuals of the purposes for which their data is being processed.
Under the data protection laws, individuals have the right to access their personal data, rectify any inaccuracies, and have their data erased in certain circumstances. Schools must also implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure the security of personal data and to prevent unauthorised access, disclosure, or destruction.
What is iSAMS?
The use of school management information systems (MIS) like ISAMS has become increasingly popular in schools. These systems allow teachers and school administrators to manage student data, including attendance, grades, and medical information, as well as staff data, such as payroll and HR records.
However, the use of ISAMS and other school MISs requires careful consideration of data protection requirements. Schools must ensure that appropriate technical and organizational measures are in place to protect personal data stored in these systems, and that teachers and students are aware of their responsibilities under data protection laws. A full data protection Impact Assessment should be carried out by the school before they start using a new MIS, or ISAMS.
Teachers and students who use ISAMS must also be aware of their responsibilities under data protection laws. This includes only accessing and using personal data for legitimate educational purposes and ensuring that personal data is kept confidential and not shared with unauthorised individuals.
In addition, schools must ensure that appropriate access controls are in place to prevent unauthorised access to personal data stored in ISAMS. This includes implementing strong passwords, limiting access to sensitive information, and regularly reviewing access rights to ensure that they are appropriate for the roles and responsibilities of staff and students.
It is also important that schools have a clear policy in place for the use of ISAMS and other systems that process personal data. This policy should outline the responsibilities of teachers and students regarding data protection, as well as the measures that the school has taken to ensure the security of personal data.
In recent years, the education sector has become increasingly targeted by cyber-attacks and data breaches. According to the UK government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2021, almost half of all education organisations in the UK reported a breach or attack in the previous 12 months. The most common types of attacks reported were phishing emails and ransomware attacks.
A report by Redscan, a UK-based cybersecurity company, found that the education sector accounted for 6.5% of all reported data breaches in the first three quarters of 2020, with the number of breaches increasing by 19% compared to the previous year. The report also found that schools were particularly vulnerable to phishing attacks, with 83% of all incidents involving this type of attack.
The use of ISAMS can provide valuable benefits to schools, but they also present new challenges in terms of data protection and cybersecurity. As highlighted in the previous section, it is important that schools implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to protect personal data stored in these systems and have a clear plan in place for responding to data breaches.
However, prevention is always better than cure, and it is also important for schools to provide training and education to teachers and students on data protection best practices and cybersecurity awareness. This includes teaching students about safe online behaviour, such as not sharing personal information online and being vigilant against phishing emails and other scams. It also includes providing teachers with training on how to recognise and respond to potential security threats, and on how to use ISAMS and other school management systems in compliance with data protection laws.
By taking a proactive approach to data protection and cybersecurity, schools can reduce the risk of data breaches and protect their students, staff, and organisation from the serious consequences of a cyber-attack. This includes protecting sensitive personal information, maintaining the trust of students and parents, and avoiding the financial and reputational damage that can result from a data breach.
Finally, schools must have a plan in place for responding to data breaches that involve personal data stored in ISAMS. This plan should include a clear procedure for reporting and investigating data breaches, as well as measures to mitigate the impact of the breach on affected individuals.
In conclusion, data protection is essential in a school environment in the UK to safeguard personal data, comply with legal requirements, and prevent harm to individuals and organisations. The use of school management information systems like ISAMS can provide valuable benefits to schools, but it is important that these systems are used in compliance with data protection laws. By implementing appropriate technical and organizational measures, providing training and education, and having a clear response plan in place, schools can protect themselves and their community from the serious consequences of data breaches involving personal data stored.
Contact Propelfwd for more information.