Child and Student records – management of

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					Management of Child and Student Records

GUIDELINES FOR:       Directors and Principals

Attention             Preschools and Schools

Further information   Department of Education and Children’s Services

                      Telephone:   8226 1555
                      Facsimile:   8410 1866

Responsible unit      Legislation and Legal Services Unit (LLSU)

Date of issue         1.3.09

Date of operation     1.3.09

Review date           1.3.10

Replacing             Records Management: children and students in
                      preschools and schools

Authorised by:        D. Mackie

Position title        Manager LLSU
The law
Schools and preschools, are subject to the requirements of Department of
Premier and Cabinet Circular number 12, entitled "Information Privacy
The department maintains records on students to assist in fulfilling its
responsibilities as specified in the Children’s Services and Education Act.
Such records are essential to the processes of enhancing learning,
maintaining student health and welfare, educational planning, school
administration and reporting to parents and students.
All school records and documents remain the property of the Minister.

What information?
Information about children and students should only be recorded if it is
relevant. It should be retained for the period for which it is valid and relevant to
the student's education or welfare. All comments included in a child or
student's individual file should be clearly signed and dated.
A teacher's notes containing information or an opinion about an individual,
and which are recorded in an individual’s record folder, a diary, or elsewhere
in the preschool or school, are an official ``personal record'' for the purpose of
the Cabinet Instructions. Where notes are made in a diary, they should be
confined to a diary used exclusively for work reasons.
Whilst the contents of the pupil record folder may differ between sites it is
recommended that all records relating to a student be managed in the folder.
At a minimum it is suggested the following should be placed in the folder:

 •        Enrolment, admission and pupil information
 •        Assessment records and reports
 •        Transfer advice
 •        School leaver statement / student achievement record
 •        Records of absences
 •        Leaving details (forwarding addresses / occupation etc)
 •        Medical and family information
 •        Student information card
 •        Work experience records
 •        Discipline records
Parent/Student access to information
Other than in exceptional circumstances students, children and their parents
have the right to be informed of the nature of information recorded about
them, the use to which it may be put and the usual practices of schools with
respect to disclosure of such information.
Students, children and their parents have the right to request access to
their own records and to request amendments to those records in
accordance with these guidelines.
Adult students or parents are able to request access in writing at any time.
Where a student is under 18 years of age, access to his/her personal records
may be sought on his/her behalf by a custodial parent or guardian. Principals
should use their discretion in relation to requests by students under 18 years
of age.
Directors/Principals are encouraged to facilitate all reasonable requests
in these situations.
If Directors/Principals have any concerns about a request, due to the nature of
the material or costs involved in collecting the information, advice should be
sought immediately from Legislation and Legal Services Unit - Freedom of
Information Officer, telephone (08) 8226.1559.

   Children, students or parents who are not satisfied with the access
   given should be advised to make an application under the Freedom
   of Information Act in order to get a determination under the
   legislation and to gain a legal right of review. Further information
   and application forms may be obtained from the department's
   Freedom of Information officer, telephone (08) 8226.1559.

Where an individual seeks a copy of his/her Student Achievement Record, a
fee applies. Requests for copies of results of external examinations may be
referred to SSABSA, 60 Greenhill Road, Wayville SA 5034, telephone (08)

Accessing another person’s information
Where a person applies for access to another person's records and he/she
cannot produce an authorisation from the record subject, he/she should be
advised to make an application under the Freedom of Information Act.

Retaining records
Records should be retained for various minimum periods, after which they
may be destroyed or, in the case of some school records, deposited in State
Records. For the retention periods for student records see School Record
Reports from other departments, agencies or individuals should not be
placed in an individual’s file.
eg. Mandatory Report records – see Documenting notifications.
These must be securely stored in the office of the director, principal, deputy
principal or student counsellor. A brief reference to such reports may be
included so as to facilitate a request for further information from that
department, agency or individual. Access to these reports is the responsibility
of the other department, agency or individual, unless there is an agreement to
the contrary by the agency concerned.

Staff access to student records
Access of school and preschool staff to student records should be on a "need
to know" basis.
Staff should only have access to information, student files in EDSAS or hard
copy when there is a school purpose. The information must be used for the
purpose for which it was collected.
Any employee who, in the course of carrying out his/her duties, is subject to
legal action relating to the management of student records, will be indemnified
by the Minister.

Directors and principals responsibilities
Leaders should:
•     Establish and maintain effective procedures for the maintenance and
      security of student records.
•     Inform students and their parents of their rights to information privacy
      and access to their personal records.
      A preschool or school handbook or prospectus should contain a section
      outlining these rights and any school or preschool-developed strategies
      for managing the processes involved.
•     Ensure that personal information collected for administrative and
      emergency use is updated at least annually.
•     Ensure that the information is only used in accord DECS instructions.
•    ensure that strategies are developed for the regular culling of child and
     student files in order to pre-empt problems which may arise at a later
Ways in which schools and preschools may operate in accordance with the
Government's instructions are set out below.
Collection of Information
Information should not be collected unlawfully, unfairly or unnecessarily.
Children and students must be accorded the same rights with respect to the
collection of information about them as any other person.
Personal information should be sought and given without harassment.
Particular caution should be exercised with respect to records constructed as
a result of interviews or conversations.
All such records must be clearly signed and dated by the recorder.
Children, students or their parents should be given an opportunity, from the
outset, to confirm or amend by annotation such records, clearly signing and
dating each such confirmation or amendment.

Hearsay information should be so identified.

 Actions when collecting information from parents/carers and students
 Before collecting personal information about children and students (and
 their families) or, if not practicable, as soon as possible afterwards, the
 child, student and his/her parents should be told:
 •           the purpose for which the information is being collected
 •           of any legal authorisation or requirement to collect such
             information. In such cases, the parents of children or students
             under 18 years of age must be informed unless the information
             relates to mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse
 •           the preschool or school's policy with respect to the disclosure of
             such information
 •           school and preschool staff should incorporate the above
             principles in any preschool or school-designed forms used for
             collecting information about children, students or their families
 •           children, students or their parents should be clearly informed of
             these principles prior to the recording of any information about
             them arising from interviews, conversations and hearsay
             evidence from third parties
 •           no personal information about students or children should be
             retained in individual student files without parental knowledge,
             unless the student is over 18 years of age.

Information which is irrelevant, out-of-date, incomplete or excessively
personal should not be collected or transferred to another school.
When students transfer
At major times of transition to the next level of schooling (CPC/JP; JP/PS;
PS/HS), when transferring to another preschool or school and on leaving
school or preschool, individual record folders and files should be culled of all
but essential information to minimise the potential for misinterpretation or
misuse. It may be desirable to involve parents in this process.
Forms for the transition to the next level of schooling should be developed by
consultation between schools and/or levels within schools and should double
as a report to parents, thus avoiding duplication of effort and ensuring that
parents are fully informed both of the educational progress of their child and of
the information being forwarded regarding their child.
Wherever practicable, "sentences" should be incorporated into any forms
used for collecting personal information to facilitate the culling process.
Comments regarding verified reports of serious instances of an individual’s
misbehaviour should only be retained while relevant and should not generally
be retained as a permanent record unless required by law.
Comments regarding work habits and attitudes of individuals made as a result
of child or student observations should be reviewed periodically to decide
whether they are still relevant and whether they should remain part of the
individual’s continuing record or file.

Storage of Information
All reasonable steps should be taken to ensure that information about an
individual is securely stored and not misused.
Filing cabinets containing child or student records should be locked when not
under the direct supervision of personnel authorised to supervise them.
Rooms, offices or buildings which contain personal records in unlocked files or
drawers must be locked when unattended.
Normal practices with respect to the security of child and student records and
delegation of authority should be clearly articulated in preschool or school
policy statements.
Authority to access computer records must be clearly delegated and
controlled by appropriate passwords. Such passwords should be reviewed
regularly to maximise security.
Screens should be placed so that they are not visible to visitors, e.g. at the
front counter, and the work-station should be logged off when unattended.

Correction of Information
Preschool and school staff, in partnership with individuals and parents, should
take all reasonable steps to correct any personal information about individuals
or their families which is misleading, out of date, incomplete or irrelevant.
Wherever practicable, preschool or schools should take pre-emptive action in
culling such information from files.
Individuals or parents, having gained access to individual records, may
request that the records be corrected.
Where staff, individuals or parents are in agreement, correction may simply be
achieved by removing a particular record or comment from the file or record.
If, however, the preschool or school maintains that a valid educational reason
exists for the retention of such records or comments, a compromise may be
reached by amending the record by annotation (signed and dated) deleting
part of the record or recording the nature of the objection to the record or
comment (signed and dated).
Unresolved requests for correction of records should involve an
application under the Freedom of Information Act.

Use of Personal Information
Personal information should not be used other than for the original purpose for
which it was collected, unless:
•            adult students or parents have consented to such other use
•            the principal, director or his/her delegate believes, on reasonable
             grounds, that such other use is necessary to prevent or lesson a
             serious and imminent threat to the health, safety or welfare of the
             student or other persons
•            the information is necessary for the purpose of genuine
             educational or other research
•           the use is required or authorised by law.
Where personal information is used to justify any course of action, preschool
and schools are obliged to take all reasonable steps to ensure that such
information is accurate, complete and up-to-date and that all actions are
appropriately documented.
Where directors/principals are uncertain they should contact the
Freedom of Information Officer, telephone (08) 8226.1559

Disclosure of Information
Personal information about an individual should not be disclosed unless:
•            an adult student or a parent has consented to such disclosure,
•            the consent being specific to time and place
•            the principal, director or his/her delegate has reasonable grounds
             to believe that such disclosure is necessary to prevent or lesson a
             serious and imminent threat to the health, safety or welfare of the
             individual or other persons
•            the disclosure is necessary for genuine educational or other
             research in accordance with the DECS guidelines
•            the disclosure is required or authorised by law.

    Staff may only withhold personal information about an individual
    under 18 years of age from his or her parent if they reasonably believe
    that the disclosure of the information would be prejudicial to his or
    her health, safety or welfare.
In the event court orders or family court actions being in force, preschool and
schools should exercise particular caution before disclosing personal
information. Principals and directors should refer to Dealing with Family Law
Issues in Preschools and Schools for advice regarding this sensitive issue.
Where any doubt exists, the director or principal should contact the
DECS Legislation and Legal Services (8226 1555).

Requests for copies of results of external examinations may be referred to SSABSA –

Storage of Permanent Value Records

To determine whether a particular document is a permanent value record, please refer
to either General Disposal Schedule 15 for Administrative Records or General
Disposal Schedule 22 for School Records. These documents are available from

Storage of Temporary Value Records

For further information on the management and storage of temporary records please

Disposal of Student and School Records

All school records, including student records, must be disposed of in accordance with
the relevant disposal schedule. For schools the two disposal schedules that must be
considered are:
    • General Disposal Schedule 15 for Administrative Records
    • General Disposal Schedule 22 for School Records

These documents are available at and provide details of how
long each individual record needs to be retained.

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