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GDPR Compliance in Schools: How to Do it and The Risks

GDPR compliance increases the accountability schools have and the power individuals are guaranteed with their data. It’s one of the most important features when it comes to successfully safeguarding children and young people. So how does GDPR work for schools and what are the risks of non-compliance? 

What is GDPR?

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are the rules that make up the world’s strongest data protection effort. It was designed to modernise the laws that were in place to protect the personal information of individuals. 

GDPR replaced the 1995 Data Protection Directive. It was created to give greater protection and rights to all people, altering how both public and private bodies handle personal information. 

GDPR For Schools

GDPR means that schools have greater accountability for the data they collect. Therefore, any action taken that doesn’t fit in with the normal school procedures requires full consent - especially if any data is handled by a third party. Furthermore, schools are required to:

  • Ensure their third party suppliers are GDPR compliant and that all transactions are done with a legally binding contract.
  • All data breaches which have a negative effect on the subject must be reported to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) within 72 hours.

How To Become GDPR Compliant

There are a number of important steps to follow when working towards GDPR compliance. Initially, you should be learning the GDPR legal framework. Ensure you understand the legislation in place and the implications if you do not meet the required standards, which we’ll explore further on.

Secondly, schools are obligated to document and review all of the personal information they hold. All data should be organised and stored during an audit.

Here’s what else can be done to ensure GDPR compliance:

  • Ensure all staff are aware of GDPR, how data is collected and stored and the implications of a breach. This can be done through general GDPR awareness training, with more specific training for staff that hold more responsibility.
  • Schools should have systems in place that gather parental consent for data processing and also verify individuals’ ages.
  • School-wide visibility on what software is being used for teaching and data collection, such as teaching apps. Information on all of this software should be collated in one place with the proper explanation on what their purpose is and what personal data is required to access them. All software needs to be GDPR compliant, otherwise this could result in serious fines. 
  • Because schools are defined as a public authority within GDPR legislation, they are required by law to employ or assign a Data Protection Officer. This role is responsible for any GDPR compliance and data protection.

The Risks of Non-Compliance

GDPR compliance is crucial to preventing data breaches and leaks, which in turn is paramount to the security and safety of pupils and staff alike. Beyond this, if a school is not compliant with current GDPR legislation, they run a number of risks. A serious breach in GDPR could result in:

  • Hefty fines.
  • Warnings and reprimands.
  • Temporary or permanent bans on data processing.
  • Rectification, restriction or erasure of data.

GDPR legislation means more accountability is had across an organisation. Fortunately, many schools already have effective data protection policies in place, meaning that GDPR is an addition to those protective policies.