Schools are tying themselves in knots over new data protection rules

What a farce. The EU’s new GDPR rules (general data protection regulations) came into force last week and they’ve got everyone in a spin. The Sentinel’s education reporter Kathie McInnes reports. 

My index finger has just about recovered from deleting 100 emails from companies, pleading with me to agree to remain on their mailing lists. And I’ve clicked on umpteen website pop-ups to consent to cookies.

Now it’s just a matter of convincing schools they are still allowed to speak to me.

A few days ago, I visited a school to cover a positive news story. It all went swimmingly until I asked the pupil I was about to interview if I could jot down their full name. “No, you can only use their first name,” a member of staff told me. “It’s because of GDPR.”

The school was also adamant that we couldn’t name any children on the photographs. This was despite parents giving their consent for the pupils to appear in the paper.

Like most newspapers, The Sentinel has a policy of only using someone’s quotes or picture if we can name them. There are a few exceptions, such as if we’re protecting a whistle-blower. But generally speaking, using a name helps prevent misidentification. And let’s face it, simply putting ‘Joe said’ next to a quote would look pretty ridiculous.

GDPR was never designed to catch out schools wanting to share their good news in print. It was aimed at bringing existing rules into line with the digital age and ensuring big businesses that store huge amounts of data on us operate in a more transparent way.

But as schools are data rich these days, they’ve got caught in the regulation cross winds. Some are interpreting the new rules in mad ways.

I’ve heard of one school telling staff they can’t share information on children’s life-threatening allergies. While another is frantically deleting old pictures on its website for fear of being fined.

Read the full article Schools are tying themselves in knots over new data protection rules

How is your school dealing with GDPR? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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