In May 2018, the regulations regarding data protection in the United Kingdom will change, with potential impact on organisations controlling and processing schools’ data.
When they arrive, the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will assume many of the characteristics of the existing Data Protection Act (DPA), in addition to areas of significant change that will require some attention.
Whatever the level of knowledge regarding GDPR in your school, SIMS provides a number of solutions to support schools in their efforts to comply with the regulations and a series of supplementary resources.
At the heart of the new regulations will be additional responsibility to demonstrate consent, including clear, affirmative action from individuals for their data to be held and used.
Schools staff will need to be familiar with the new regulations and understand how they will affect their current approach to receiving and managing data on their students.
Guidance on the GDPR is constantly being updated by the Information Commissioner’s Office, whose own website (ico.org.uk), is a highly valuable resource for information and updates.
Our own experts regularly produce guidance to assist schools in their work towards compliance, such as our Head of Product Management Nick Finnemore’s blog: ‘Helping you gear up for GDPR’.
In addition, our video: ‘How SIMS can help your school comply with GDPR’ provides details on how to make the most of the existing functionality in SIMS while our series of webinars offer the latest guidance on using SIMS for GDPR compliance – find out about upcoming webinars and register here.
Users of SIMS also have access to our customer intranet service, My Account, which includes regular updates on GDPR via a dedicated ‘hot topic’ page.
Under the terms of the GDPR, individuals have the ability to learn what data is held by an organisation in reference to them – this is known as a Subject Access Request (SAR). For example, this could be details of a particular student’s attendance or all behavioural events for a specific term.
In autumn 2017, the latest release of SIMS included functionality to help with this, known as Person Data Output (PDO). This easy-to-use tool provides an overview of all the information most likely to form a SAR, in addition to a summary of data held in other programmes such as SIMS Dinner Money and SIMS Agora. In addition, PDO creates a log of all data requests submitted, providing an ideal resource for future reference.
SIMS also provides products designed to help make the effort to achieve compliance with GDPR smoother. At the forefront of this is the SIMS Parent Lite app, which provides schools with a tool to communicate more proactively and more accurately with parents and guardians of their pupils.
The SIMS Parent Lite app provides parents with an online portal to access their existing core data and make change requests as and when they need to, greatly reducing the likelihood of a school holding outdated information.
In addition, schools have the facility to send out regular reminders to parents via the app and they can ask for parents’ consent to use their data for specific activities, as required by the new regulations.