Data Privacy in Schools – Best Practices for Managing Student Information

With technology playing a vitally central role in the ways schools operate and educate today, and data volumes within schools growing significantly, schools need to adopt best practices to ensure the security, accuracy, and accessibility of their data. This article is a deep-dive into the essential strategies for information management, including the latest technology, tools and practices for improved data privacy in schools.  


Comprehensive data governance 

Well-established data governance is a cornerstone for the effective management of student information. By implementing the latest data governance practices, schools can comply with regulations, prevent data breaches, and maintain the accuracy and integrity of student information, ultimately building trust among stakeholders and protecting student privacy. 

Of all data management options, Hybrid cloud storage stands out as the optimal data management strategy for educational institutions. By integrating on-premise and cloud-based solutions, schools give themselves a strategic edge in data security. Sensitive data can be stored in on-premise servers, as well as being replicated onto dedicated cloud locations, bolstering security measures and ensuring smooth recovery in case of hardware failures or cyberattacks. 

Prioritising user experience

Many schools fail to acknowledge the importance of prioritising the user experience in data management for different stakeholders:


A user experience designed with the needs of teachers in mind will increase the staff’s day-to-day efficiency and morale. But it will also reduce the chance of a problem commonly seen in schools, where staff introduce their own systems to store both staff and student data, outside of the view, and control, of the school. Through thorough consideration of the teacher’s need for data throughout the school day, schools will be able to manage and store that information safely and more efficiently. 


Schools also collect significant amounts of information from parents, so it is critical that this information is collected in a secure and simple manner. By considering the parent’s user experience of this data input, schools immediately reduce the need for parents to supply duplicate information. Instead of manual data flows and duplicate data that negatively impact the security and quality of data, parents are able to experience a single source of truth that is easily accessible to them. 

Enhancing parent support

Parents play a crucial role in the accessing and sharing of student information. Because of this, offering them the necessary assistance and guidance regarding information management is imperative. Schools should establish clear channels of communication and readily accessible resources to address any queries or concerns parents may have regarding student information systems. This support should encompass assistance navigating the platforms, understanding data privacy policies, and accessing relevant information about their child’s academic progress and school activities. 

Minimising data collection and retention

Minimising data collection and retention is an effective method of safeguarding student privacy and complying with evolving regulations, especially in light of the ever-evolving privacy laws. It is recommended that schools adopt the principle of keeping the least data required and disposing of what is unnecessary. By limiting the collection and retention of student data to only what is essential for educational purposes, schools can reduce their exposure to potential risks associated with data breaches and unauthorised data access, and ensure compliance with privacy laws. 

Implementing data classification

While minimising data collection and retention is essential, a school should also implement a robust data classification strategy to safeguard student information. By categorising data according to its importance, sensitivity, and regulatory requirements, schools can make informed decisions about the appropriate systems and security measures needed to protect it. This approach ensures that each data type receives the appropriate level of protection and allows schools to tailor their data management strategies to specific business needs. Whether it’s student records, financial information, or administrative documents, classifying data ensures that all student information is handled and stored securely throughout its lifecycle, safeguarding against potential breaches and compliance risks.

IT solutions - Data privacy

Understanding digital supply chain risks

While it is often overlooked, supply chain cybersecurity plays a significant role in safeguarding sensitive data within a school. With third-party vendors accessing a school’s data every day, the potential impact of a breach should be clearly understood. Many schools lack adequate oversight and control over their supply chain, leaving them vulnerable to cyber threats and data breaches. 

Schools must prioritise supply chain cybersecurity and establish clear protocols with vendors to mitigate these risks. Developing a shared responsibility model outlines the responsibilities of both schools and vendors, ensuring comprehensive security measures are in place. Additionally, verifying vendor accreditations, such as ISO27001 or PCI-DSS, and conducting cybersecurity risk assessments on vendors can help assess and manage potential risks. 

Utilising data compliance tools 

A school must establish robust policies and procedures regarding data handling and access. To assess adherence to these policies, schools can leverage various tools and technologies designed for monitoring and auditing data usage, access controls, and system configurations. 

The most effective compliance management tools include: 

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Solutions are designed to monitor, detect, and block the unauthorised transmission of sensitive data across networks, endpoints, and cloud applications, reducing the risk of data breaches.

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) Systems, that collect and analyse security event data to detect and respond to security threats and policy violations in real time. 

Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) Platforms, that centralise risk management, policy management, and audit processes, streamlining compliance efforts. 

Identity and Access Management (IAM) Systems, that manage user access, provisioning, and activity monitoring to enforce access policies. Vulnerability Management Software scans IT infrastructure for vulnerabilities and prioritises remediation efforts to maintain compliance with security policies.

Ensuring data confidentiality, integrity, and availability

Finally, schools must adopt a culture of safe practices around data, characterised by confidentiality, integrity and accessibility. This should extend to the design, implementation, and usage of any system that stores, processes, or retrieves data. 

Confidentiality ensures that sensitive student data is accessed by authorised personnel only, safeguarding against unauthorised disclosure and privacy breaches. 

Integrity ensures that student information remains accurate and reliable, free from unauthorised alterations or tampering throughout its lifecycle.  

Availability ensures that only authorised users can access student data when needed, promoting a supervised and managed approach to data. All student information should be access controlled, and only those users whose role relies on certain data should have access to it. 

Expert data management 

Effective student information management requires a holistic approach, well-established priorities and clearly defined protocols. By adopting these best practices and leveraging the latest technology, schools can safeguard student data, enhance operational efficiency, and deliver a superior educational experience.

NetStrategy understands the worry associated with IT and cybersecurity. As specialists in the industry, we provide schools with everything they need to thrive. Our expertise includes comprehensive ICT reviews and audits, IT risk management services, and professional advice and support focussed on student data management systems and best practices. If you are looking for advice on a data management solution, or for any other IT or cybersecurity-related issue, contact the NetStrategy team today. 

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