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Visitor Management Systems

Many schools now have a visitor management system in place. I spoke to the Information Commissioners Office about the retention of data on these systems and I have put together the following advice:

Many schools have purchased systems where visitors complete an electronic registration form and have a digital photograph taken which is then used for a visitors badge to enter the school building.

These systems are popular as they support the safeguarding procedures in school and are more practical than having a visitor’s book. However, schools need to be aware of their duty in holding data of visitors and parents who enter the school.

After discussions with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), the following guidelines should be followed by the school:

  • It should be made clear for all users that the system is in place and the school should clarify WHY it is taking the data and WHAT will be done with it.
  • The school needs to have a ‘Retention Policy’ to explain why they are holding the data.
  • Schools should make it clear that it is holding the data securely.
  • The system should have been tested and cleared by the data controller in school.
  • It is recommended that the school informs parents/carers that the school has such a system in place.

If the school has purchased a system from a third party company, it needs to:

  • Ensure that there is a contract in place between the school and the third party company.
  • Clear understanding of what the company does with the data, if it is held on server outside of the school premises. In addition, the school needs to ensure that the data is held within the European Union. If it is held outside the EU, a recognised agreement needs to be in place e.g. US – ‘Safe Harbour’
  • An agreement with the company on what happens to the data if the school terminates the contract or the company ceases trading.

Actions

In addition to the above, it is recommended that schools put in place the following:

  • Make all visitors aware of the system before it is used. This can be done via a supplementary note on any correspondence e.g. emails/letters or via a written notice which is read by visitors before use.
  • Training for reception staff or a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) sheet for any visitor who asks further questions.

Link to ICO is: Information Commissioners Office

Sexting

As many teachers will know, the issue of ‘sexting’ amongst children and young people is causing great concern amongst practitioners. The key issue is that many teenagers think that this type of behaviour is just ‘flirting’ and it is something that all young people experience.

A recent news story (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34136388) highlighted that the police are beginning to prosecute teenagers for sending explicit texts. Whilst the aim is not to criminalise young people, they need to understand the risks of sending indecent images. CEOP (Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre) have recently shared intelligence that criminal gangs in other countries are trying to harness these images and sell them for commercial gain.

It is really important that schools address this issue within their curriculum model. Here are some links to useful documents and resources:

Guidance

‘Sexting’ in schools: advice and support around self-generated images

Sexting guidance from CEOP & Securus

NSPCC – Advice For Parents

Resources

Cybersmart (Australian site)

So you got naked online

Picture This

Respect Me – Don’t Sext Me (Australian resource)

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