Investigation: Schools heading for pupil data scandal

It is only a matter of time before schools become engulfed in scandals over breaches of their pupils’ data, a leading expert has warned. Tes reports

The claim comes amid a growing number of schools reporting data breaches to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at the University of Cambridge, outlined fears that the education system was at risk of the sort of high-profile failings that have hit the NHS in recent years.

“There are gazillions of companies using all sorts of computerised learning materials and schools are inhaling this without much pause for thought,” he told Tes.

“The first thing [schools] must do is understand and have a list of all the personal data they keep and for what purpose, and figure out in advance what the lawful justification for that is, and is it something for which you need consent.

“Exactly the same risk applies to systems in schools [as in the NHS] which set out to collect what amounts to health data. What is it doing sitting on a server in Taiwan?”

Unless the school retains ownership of the data, it can be sold on, with the school having no idea who is using it and why. Although GDPR has made schools more aware of privacy issues, Professor Anderson said there was still a long way to go.

“I suspect that if a rigorous GDPR audit was given to the average school in England and Wales they would fail by a mile,” he said. “They often have no clue what is being hoovered up, by whom and to what use it is being put.”

Read the full article Investigation: Schools heading for pupil data scandal

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin


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  1. Anonymous

    Pupil data information is never kept up to date anyway . Otherwise transition from primary to secondary wouldnt fail when your child has ASN & a medical illness requiring an IHP .
    5 month my son was on p/t timetable , wasn’t reported to SEEMIS . Put through children’s hearing process for poor attendance , referral was made by the pastoral care who placed the p/t timetable and failed to report it .
    A school nurse carried out a medical report on my son , no signature or name was on the report provided which had misleading information . No record of any this on pupil data or on the SAR I received .

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