RMDS Policy on Data Protection, Record Keeping (to include pupil and staff records)  and Contact with Other Schools

(November 2013)

Context

 

  • RMDS seeks to enable each child to develop his/her potential in a caring environment where the talents of each child are valued. This work can best be done where there is a high level of openness and co-operation between staff, parents and pupils. This extends to transfers between schools i.e. transition to second level and transfer to and from other primary schools
  • Teaching is informed by pupil learning needs and the recording of where a pupil is in relation to his/her learning is a cornerstone of good teaching. See Assessment policy
  • Attendance at school has a bearing on a pupil’s attainment levels. See Statement of Strategy on Attendance
  • As an employer, RMDS Board of Management is required to keep appropriate and secure staff files. See RMDS employment policies

This policy is underpinned by the following legislation and DES circulars:

  • The Education Act 1998 Section 9(g) provides that parents (or students of 18 years or upwards) are entitled to have access in the prescribed manner to records kept by the school relating to the progress of the student in his/her education.
  • The Education (Welfare) Act, 2000, requires principals:
  1. To communicate to a school, to which a student is transferring, any problems relating to school attendance which the pupil concerned had and any other appropriate matters relating to the pupil’s educational progress
  2. To keep a record of the pupil’s attendance and the reasons for failure to atten
  3. To inform the Educational Welfare Officer in writing, where a pupil is suspended for a period in excess of 6 days/or where a pupil is absent in excess of 20 school days in a school year/or where in the opinion of the principal the student is not attending regularly.
  • The Data Protection Act 1988 and the Data Protection (Amendment) Act 2003. The Data Protection Act 1988 was introduced in response to privacy issues raised by the maintenance of data on computers and to specify the responsibilities of those who keep personal data on computer (data controllers). The Data Protection (Amendment) Act 2003 extends data protection rules to include certain manual data.
  • Circular Letter 0056/2011 Initial Steps in the Implementation of the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy regarding Assessment.
  • Circular letter 0024/2013 Operational guidelines for BOMs and staff designated to operate the online claims system in recognised primary schools (ESINET)

Aims of this policy

  • To establish a clear understanding, shared by management and staff as to the type of staff records that are maintained and how such records should be made available.
  • To establish a clear understanding, shared by management, staff and parents, as to the type of pupil records that are maintained and how such records should be made available.
  • To report to parents in a meaningful way on the educational progress of their children.
  • To record the educational progress that a pupil is making thereby enabling parents and teachers to support the child’s learning.
  • To ensure that it is within the capacity of the school to administer this policy.
  • To establish clear, practical procedures that will enable parents/guardians (or past pupils who have reached the age of 18) to access records relating to educational progress.
  • To ensure that the school complies with legislative requirements while awaiting the issue of guidelines as to the ‘prescribed manner’ referred to in Section 9 (g) of the Education Act 1998.
  • To comply with the requirements of data protection legislation

Pupil Records may include:

  • Enrolment/registration/medical forms, including the child’s PPS number. 
  • Parental/guardian   permission forms
  • End of year reports
  • Standardised Tests Scores: Refer to Circular 0138/2006 Supporting Assessment in Primary Schools and Assessment in the Primary School Curriculum, Guidelines for Schools (NCCA, 2007)and Circular 0056/2011 Literacy and Numeracy Strategy
  • Other test scores and samples of work, for example, teacher-designed tests, screening tests, diagnostic tests
  • Individual Education Plans (IEPs)
  • Records of attendance / absence, including reports made to the Educational Welfare Service– refer below
  • Psychological assessments and other professional reports.
  • Referrals for learning support or other supplementary teaching and communications relating to this e.g. a record of parents’ decision not to allow child to attend at learning support or resource teaching
  • Record of any  breaches of the Code of Behaviour/Anti-bullying code
  • A record of any serious injuries/accident
  • Indemnity form for administration of medicine
  • Correspondence from  parents/guardians regarding their children’s education
  • Other forms related to the child’s education in RMDS
  • Home /school Diaries for children with communication difficulties

A computerised school database, Aladdin, is used by teachers to record standardized test scores, attendance, behavior and bullying and progress reports, as well as notes of parent meetings and other matters affecting individual pupils.  All report files are kept in a filing cabinet. Yard books are kept in the school office. The Accident book is kept in the school office. Access to all records is restricted to school staff. Records will not be transferred to other personnel without written parental/guardian authorization. (Section 28 Education Welfare Act, 2000). Records will be retained until the pupil has reached 18 years of age.

Employee records:

Employee records are held in a  filing cabinet to which the Chairperson of the Board and the Principal has access. The online claims system ESINET is operated strictly within the terms of Circular 0024/2013. Additional staff files are also kept in a filing cabinet in the principal’s office.

Such records may include:

  • CV
  • Employment related documents, including contracts and letters of employment
  • Sick leave records
  • Inspector’s reports
  • Any other correspondence between the employee and the Principal/ Board of Management
  • Garda vetting correspondence and records

Access is restricted to the secretary, principal and the Chairperson of the Board.

Transition to other schools

Background:

The Education (Welfare) Act 2000 provides that, where a student leaves one school to go to another, the principal of the first school must inform the principal of the child’s new school of attendance problems the child has experienced or other matters relating to the child’s educational progress as he or she considers appropriate. Circular 0056/2011 further prescribes that from 1 June 2012 the principal of each primary school must send a copy of the end of year report card (including information on standardized test scores) to the primary or second level school to which the student transfers.

This information should only be provided after enrolment in the primary or second level school has been accepted.

Note: Circular M51/93 states that post-primary schools should not use entrance examinations or other mechanisms for the purpose of awarding places to applicants in the order of their academic or intellectual ability.

Children transferring to RMDS from another primary school:

A copy of previous school reports and any relevant assessments are requested from the parents. The principal usually meets with the parents before the child starts here to ensure how we can best meet the child’s learning needs.  Parental permission is sought to speak to the previous school and access previous records. Once the child is enrolled, a letter is sent to the previous school to inform them of the child’s enrolment in RMDS, in accordance with the requirements of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 and requesting a copy of the child’s most recent report card.

Related policies:

SEN policy

Child protection policy

Policy on Assessment

Statement of strategy on attendance

Garda Vetting policy

Employment related policies

This policy was reviewed by the Board of Management at its meeting of 7th November 2013

 Colm Healy Chairperson

Appendix 1

Background:

The Education Act, 1998

A recognised school … shall use its available resources to … (inter alia)

1)     Establish or maintain contacts with other schools and at other appropriate levels throughout the community served by the school …” (Education Act, 1998, section 9)

The Minister may make regulations relating to all or any of the following matters:

(j)  Procedures for the promotion of effective liaison and cooperation by schools and centres for education

 

Education Welfare Act, 2000, Section 20:

3)     The principal of a recognised school shall, as soon as may be after entering in the register maintained under this section in respect of that school the name of a child who is registered in another recognised school, so inform by notification in writing the principal of the second-mentioned school

4)     The principal of the second-mentioned school referred to in subsection (3) shall, on receipt of notification under that subsection, remove the name of the child concerned from the register maintained under this section in respect of the said second-mentioned school except where the child continues to receive part of his or her education at that school.

5)     The principal of a recognised school shall, on receiving a notification under subsection (3) in relation to a child , notify the principal of the school first-mentioned in that subsection of –

a)     Any problems relating to school attendance that the child concerned had while attending the second-mentioned school referred to therein, and

b)     Such other matters relating to the child’s educational progress as he or she considers appropriate.A statement of strategy for fostering an appreciation of learning among students attending that school and encouraging regular attendance at school on the part of such students shall provide (inter alia) ….

The fostering, promoting and establishing of contacts by the school with:

(i)              other schools that provide primary or post-primary education

(f)         insofar as is practicable, the co-ordination with other schools of programmes aimed at promoting good behaviour among students, encouraging regular attendance at school by students and the exchanging of information relating to matters of behaviour and school attendance with such schools

(Education (Welfare) Act 2000, Section 22)

The range of responsibilities of a principal includes …

“maintaining liaisons with other schools and education establishments with which  school has  a relationship.”

“arranging visits to other schools.”

(Primary Education Management Manual, Thompson Round Hall, Appendix 2.7 & 2.8)

The Freedom of Information Act

Primary schools are not yet subject to the Freedom of Information Act but can expect to be included in a future expansion of those areas of the public service that come under the scope of the Freedom of Information legislation. Some agencies with whom a school may interact in relation to pupils (e.g. Health Boards, DES) are subject to the act.

The Data Protection Act 1988 and the Data Protection (Amendment) Act 2003

The Data Protection Act 1988 was introduced in response to privacy issues raised by the maintenance of data on computers and to specify the responsibilities of those who keep personal data on computer (data controllers). The Act related to data held on computers in a format in which it can be processed automatically. “Personal Data” in this context means “date relating to a living individual who can be identified either from the data or from the data in conjunction with other information in the possession of the data controller”

Unlike the Freedom of Information Act, the Data Protection Act applies to all organisations. Schools that retain data on staff or students on computer are subject to its provisions

The Data Protection Act specifies certain key responsibilities that data controllers must exercise:

  • Fair obtaining and processing of data – the identity of the person collecting the data, the use to which it will be put and to whom it will be released should be set out for the person providing the information, or should outline any secondary or future uses to which the data might be put.
  • Data may only be held on computer about people if it is held for a specific, lawful and clearly stated purpose.
  • The data must be accurate and kept up to date.
  • The data must be used only in ways that are consistent with the purpose/purposes for which it is kept.
  • Security measures must be put in place to prevent unauthorised access, alteration, disclosure or destruction of the data and against accidental loss or destruction.
  • The data held must be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose/purposes for which it is held.
  • The data must not be kept longer than is necessary. Data controllers should be clear on how long data is to be kept and why it is being retained. Unless the school has a system for managing electronic records, the ever-increasing number of electronic records should be dealt with in the same way as paper records, i.e. using the same retention and disposal periods, etc. It is advisable to print off copies of important e-mail correspondence or documents for the file.
  • Right of Access – an individual about whom data is held and who applies in writing specifying the information requested id entitled to a copy of the data held about him or her. Along with the right of access to personal data, the Data Protection Act also gives employees the right to ascertain the existence of personal data an the right to rectify or erase dat

The Data Protection (Amendment) Act 2003

The Data Protection (Amendment) Act, enacted in July 2003, amends the Data Protection Act, 1988 in a number of significant ways:

  • It extends data protection rules to include certain manual data (paper-based filing systems) relating to living individuals, which is recorded as part of a filing system;
  • It sets out conditions for processing personal data, including more stringent controls in relation to sensitive personal data e.g. religious beliefs, racial or ethnic origin, etc.;
  • It strengthens individuals’ rights, in particular the right to be informed about the processing of data relating to them;
  • It gives the new powers to the Data Protection Commissioner to carry out investigations in order to ensure that data protection rules are being complied with.
  • It includes a re-statement of basic data protection principles, with additional safeguards in relation to direct marketing (using data collected for a particular legitimate purpose to contact individuals to sell products or services);
  • It specifies additional conditions relating to the processing of personal data, e.g. a new category of sensitive personal data is to be created which will benefit from stronger protection;
  • It introduces a right for individuals to object to automated decision-making (decision-making which is processed by electronic means without human input).

Circular 0056/2011

Initial Steps in the Implementation of the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy (available from www.education.gov.ie)

Circular letter 0024/2013

Operational guidelines for BOMs and staff designated to operate the online claims system in recognised primary schools (ESINET)(available from www.education.gov.ie )

 

 

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