There are two ways of accessing pupil information:
- Under Data Protection legislation, the GDPR grants the right of access to pupils and those with parental responsibility for a pupil.
- Under education regulations, those with parental responsibility have the right to view a pupil’s education record.
Please see below for further information:
Right of access under the GDPR
You have the right to ask an organisation whether or not they are using or storing your personal information. You can also ask them for copies of your personal information, verbally or in writing by submitting a subject access request (SAR).
If you have parental authority and the child is under 12 years of age, you can also request copies of their personal data.
Those with parental authority can request access to a child’s education record under education regulations.
An education record covers information that comes from a teacher or other employee of a local authority or school, the pupil or you as a parent, and is processed by or for the school’s governing body or teacher. This is likely to cover information such as; the records of the pupil’s academic achievements as well as correspondence from teachers, local education authority employees and educational psychologists engaged by the school’s governing body. It may also include information from the child and from you, as a parent, carer or guardian. Information provided by the parent of another child or information created by a teacher solely for their own use would not form part of a child’s education record.
Access to education records is a separate right and is not covered by Data Protection legislation. Unlike the right to access under Data Protection legislation, this right does not extend to pupils.
How do I make a request under education regulations?
It is worth noting that schools in different regions are covered by different regulations. Please see below for the regional differences:
In England, schools are regulated by The Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005. Those with parental authority can apply to the school to view an education record or receive a copy.
In England, this right only applies to all local authority schools, and all special schools, including those which are not maintained by a local authority.
Independent schools, academies and free schools are not obliged to respond to a request for access to a pupil’s education record under this legislation.
In Scotland, schools are regulated by the Pupils’ Educational Records (Scotland) Regulations 2003. Those with parental authority must apply to the local authority education department to view an education record or receive a copy.
Under the Scottish regulations, the right applies to all schools, including local authority and independent schools.
In Wales, schools are regulated by The Pupil Information (Wales) Regulations 2011. Those with parental authority can apply to the school to view an education record or receive a copy.
Under the Welsh regulations, the right applies to maintained schools and all special schools, including those which are not maintained by a local authority.
In Northern Ireland, schools are regulated by the The Education (Pupil Reporting) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009. Those with parental authority, can apply to the school to view an education record or receive a copy.
Under the Northern Ireland regulations, the right applies to all grant aided schools.
How long does it take?
Under education regulations in all regions, the organisation must comply with a written request within 15 school days. This does not include school holidays.
What does it cost?
The organisation must allow those with parental authority to view the record free of charge.
If a parent makes a request for a copy of the record, this must also be provided within 15 school days. The organisation can charge a fee for the copy, however, the fee must not exceed the cost of supply.
The cost depends on the number of pages provided. For example, 1 to 19 pages will cost £1.20; 29 pages will cost £2, and so on, up to a maximum of 500+ pages which will cost £50. If the request is for other information excluding the educational record then the maximum charge is £10.
If the education record is to be supplied as part of a right of access under data protection, the organisation can charge for information held in the education record but not for any other personal data held by the school supplied in its response to a SAR.
As a parent, are there circumstances where I could be denied access to my child’s education record?
There are certain circumstances where an education record may be withheld; for example, where the information might cause serious harm to the physical or mental health of the pupil or another individual.
The request for access would also be denied if it would mean releasing examination marks before they are officially announced.
Please note that education regulations are not regulated by the Information Commissioner’s Office. Should you have any concerns about the way your request for your child’s education record has been handled, please contact the organisation for further information on its complaint procedure.
Should I submit a subject access request or a request to view the education record?
When deciding whether to submit a SAR or a request to view the education record, it is worth considering what information you wish to obtain.
If you submit a SAR to the organisation for all of your, or your child’s personal data, it is likely to disclose both information contained in the education record and any other personal data the organisation may hold.
If you submit a request to view or receive a copy of the education record, the organisation will only disclose the information contained in the record and it is not obliged to disclose any further personal data that it may hold.