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Regular updates from the Information Governance team.

The recent flooding has caused widespread disruption across the county; disruption which has affected a number of our schools and, in some cases, sadly, caused much upheaval and damage. With this in mind, we felt it might be timely to look at some steps schools could take in the event of having to initiate all, or part, of their disaster recovery plan.

Whilst floods have been a primary focus the following guidance would similarly apply to any number of emergency situations a setting might face, (situations which have all occurred in Derbyshire) such as pipe bursts or lightning strikes.

  • Is your disaster recovery plan up to date? If it is, when was it last tested and as headteacher, are you aware of how the plan could be implemented and your responsibilities?

  • Ensure all systems are backed up routinely and external back ups are secured. Servers are to be kept off the ground, wherever possible, and away from areas of risk e.g. near doorways or high traffic areas.

  • Share access - Make sure that key systems and files are not just limited to one person. As headteacher, make sure you have a paired arrangement, so that in the event of your absence, a colleague can access the key data stores (e.g. SEN, child protection) and vice versa, should they be absent or unable to reach the site.

  • Consider a review of your information asset register. Are your records held where you believe them to be and, in the event of lead staff absence, can they be easily located, identified and retrieved? Many schools hold historical records which, if lost or damaged, are irreplaceable. Speak to your Data Protection Officer (DPO) about specialist storage or transferring to the Derbyshire Records Office.

  • Safeguard information - The retention schedule provides guidance for the safe storage of records, however the following, taken from the National Archives procedures, offers more direct advice in the event of flood, or the risk of flood;
  1. Where, when and how could water enter the building? This would include not just external water ingress but also the location of pipes, guttering, boilers and water tanks, internal and external drains. If you are susceptible to flooding, undertake a routine check of areas which may be susceptible, for example flat roofs, blocked guttering or drains and valley gutters.
  2. Avoid basement storage wherever possible.
  3. Raise the bottom shelf of any storage at least 15cm from the ground.
  4. File your most important records (e.g. CP, personnel files) in the top drawers of filing cabinets.
  5. Leave a gap between storage units and storage walls and walls, so the do not touch wall surfaces.
  • In the event of flooding, please contact your Data Protection Officer (DPO) as soon as possible, to begin implementing a process of records retrieval. They can, along with the Records Office, offer advice as to the best way to initially salvage and preserve documents – relatively undamaged data can be stored in a cool, dry room, placed vertically on shelves, where possible, with the pages opened or separated, to expedite the drying process. Saturated materials can be very susceptible to damage, and should not be piled nor stored horizontally. They may also be at the risk of mould and, where necessary, should be frozen as a means of stabilizing the documents before separation.

  • Finally, where documents have been taken off site (e.g. passed to a third party for preservation or salvage), or have had to be destroyed, ensure that a record is maintained; documents are signed in and out of the premises and, as outlined in the retention schedule, a list is held of any data that has been destroyed or lost.

Please don't hesitate to contact us for advice or support in this or any other data protection matter:
GDPR for Schools | Children’s Services | Derbyshire County Council | Room 396 North Block, County Hall, Matlock, Derbyshire DE4 3AG | GDPR for Schools Helpline tel :01629 532888 or email: gdprforschools@derbyshire.gov.uk

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