Data Protection for Educational Visits

Educational Visit Checklist

  • Venue Booked - CHECK
  • Permission Slips Received - CHECK
  • Bus Booked - CHECK
  • Printed emergency contact sheets containing far too much personal information including special category data - CHECK

It’s an all-too-familiar scenario, a process which has been used countless times within schools up and down the country.

School trips are organised with military precision. However, even the most well organised trip can be derailed with a seemingly minor omission - Inadequate security of data.

Data Protection legislation clearly isn’t prescriptive enough to explicitly define how personal data should be handled on school trips or even how your window cleaner should store your name and contact details. However, something which we do understand is our obligation to ensure the security of data at all times, whether data is held within filing cabinets, the MIS or taken off site.

The bright little sparks in Year 1 are due to visit Mr MacDonald who has been working down on his farm for the past 50 years. Mr MacDonald will extol the virtues of not placing all of one’s eggs into a singular transportation vessel, for obvious reasons. Likewise, sheets of paper with emergency contact details are vulnerable if they are the only source of information available to an offsite member of staff. If a paper document is lost on the farm, it is unlikely that it will be readable even if found!

What are our requirements when away from school? Staff need to have quick and secure access to accurate information in order to look after pupils. A paper based solution is quick, but inherently insecure and data can even be out of date soon after it is printed. It may sound an obvious point, but there is no password protection on paper so confidentiality and security is an issue that must be considered. Staff are also given a further job of ensuring that paper is securely destroyed when no longer required.

So what is the alternative?

A better alternative would be for key staff to be able to access live data in a secure manner. A cloud based system could be connected to from multiple devices as and when required. The data would be secure and up-to-date. Schools with The Education Space’s Educational Visit support service, receive access to Evolvevisits. Evolvevisits has been designed specifically for the purpose of managing educational visits, helps to reduce paperwork and secure data. The system is cloud based for the planning, approval and management of educational visits, sports fixtures and extra-curricular activities, complying with both employer, and national guidelines.

From a purely Data Protection perspective, it is vital that any data which is processed is securely done so, whether out on a school trip or at school. An online system that allows the school to achieve both securely, is not only safer but also ensures the data is as up-to-date as possible at all times.

Mr MacDonald was a pioneer of his time, he decided to move against the status quo and cultivate a farm ecosystem with a multitude of species. In a similar vein, we must ensure the security of personal data which has been entrusted to us. Personal data has value and data subjects expect that their data is handled with care at all times. Whilst unavoidable in some situations, the processing of sensitive data by means of paper is fast becoming an antiquated method.

Help your school to break free from the cycle by taking proactive steps to prevent sensitive data loss. The best kind of data breach is one which you’ve managed to avoid.