The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) requires Schools, Local Authorities (LA), Department for Education (DfE) and other bodies that process personal data about children and staff to issue Privacy Notices to explain what information is being held and what it will be used for.
In the past, the suggested Privacy Notice text has included the use of school information made available by the LA or the DfE. However, the new process means much simpler Privacy Notices, where details of any organisations with which the LA and DfE share data are contained on the LA and DfE websites, with links from the Privacy Notices. This means that Privacy Notices only need to be issued once and do not need reissuing on an annual basis. The aim is to make the Privacy Notices issued to children and staff general and consistent. Any changes to the details of organisations with which school or LA data is shared can be updated on the LA and DfE websites.
To ensure this new approach to Privacy Notices works effectively the LA will need to make hard copies of their website information available to those without web access. The LA will also need to include details of their Primary Care Trusts (PCT) and Connexions Services and other local bodies with which they share data.
The new approach means that a single, short and easily understandable Privacy Notice can be provided to children and staff at the same time as other communications with which they are issued. For example, a pupil might receive the Privacy Notice as part of a school brochure or induction pack, or in a school diary, and it could be posted on the school notice board.
How the local authority uses information
The Local Authority (LA) uses information about children for whom it provides services to enable it to carry out specific functions for which it is responsible, such as the assessment of any special educational needs a child may have. It also uses the information to derive statistics to inform decisions on (for example) the funding of schools and to assess the performance of schools and set targets for them. The statistics are used in such a way that individual children cannot be identified from them.
Primary Care Trusts (PCT) use information about pupils for research and statistical purposes, to monitor the performance of local health services and to evaluate and develop them. The statistics are used in such a way that individual pupils cannot be identified from them. Information on the height and weight of individual pupils may however be provided to the child and its parents and this will require the PCTs to maintain details of pupils' names for this purpose for a period determined by the Department of Health . PCTs may also provide individual schools and LAs with aggregate information on pupils' height and weight.
Youth Support Services - For pupils aged 13 years and over, the school is legally required to pass on certain information to the provider of youth support services in their area. This is the local authority support service for young people aged 13 to 19 in England. The school must provide the name and address of the pupil and their parents and any further information relevant to the support services' role. In addition, the date of birth of the pupil is supplied.
Recent changes in the law require all young people to participate in some form of education or training up to the age of 17 from September 2013 and up to 18 from September 2015. This means they will need to continue to study or train either in a school/college or with a training partner, work full time or be in part time work/education combined with volunteering or be in an apprenticeship. The local authority and its partners can help to provide young people with appropriate learning and support, but first they may need to share certain facts they hold on individuals so that they can contact the young people, by letter, telephone or visit, to let them know about the wide range of services available. In order to do this:
The LA will be sharing a young person's:
Full name and date of birth
Address/email address/telephone number
Course/job role/start date
Support they have been offered/provided
Partners will be sharing:
The name of the young person's school/college/employer
The type of their course, job role and start date
Support the partner has offered or provided
Until pupils are aged 16 or older, their parent(s) can ask that no information beyond their children's name, address and date of birth (and their own name and address) be passed to the youth support services provider. This right transfers to the pupil on their 16th birthday. Pupils and/or parents will need to inform the school if this is what they wish.
Online information, advice and support on a range of issues affecting young people can be found on the Directgov Young People pagewith access to trained helpline advisers, via SMS text message, telephone, webchat and email.