Identity theft costs the UK economy £5.4 billion and a recent BSIA report showed 169,592 cases of identity fraud, representing an increase of 49% over the previous year.

Records management is an essential part of running a school, college or university, enabling you to operate within the law. Planning and implementing a compliant storage and paperwork destruction process, offered by companies such as B&M Secure Shredding across the UK, is crucial to those in the education sector.

Keeping up to date with the latest General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) news can be quite taxing, but with the harsh penalties set by the European Parliament, it’s worth being aware of what the current state of play is.

What does the law say about compliant data handling?

Over time, education establishments will collect personal data — including those of their pupils and staff.  Whether it’s stored in a filing cabinet or backed up on an IT system, there’s a lot of data collected in schools, colleges and universities and this all needs to be considered in terms of data breach risk and ensuring this personal information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

To reduce the chances of any breaches, paperwork should be stored in a secure location such as a locked container or console, and can then be securely shredded in a timely manner by a vetted and accredited secure shredding company once no longer required. Education practices have a more intense responsibility for protecting personal data than some other sectors, no matter what the format is, to ensure that they comply with GDPR.

What about fines?

Other than it being the responsible and safe thing to do, securely shredding confidential paperwork can avert the risk of a potentially large fine should a data breach occur.

“As an educational establishment it’s important to us that we adopt the most secure practices to deal with the confidential student, staff and financial information we hold. We work with B&M Secure Shredding to provide secure consoles and a regular collection service, as well as clear outs at the end of term and when archives need clearing. We can be sure everything is securely shredded and then recycled. All their staff are Enhanced DBS vetted for security purposes, and we also receive a certificate of destruction which acts as a paper trail for our own records, and demonstrates our compliance” Tony Way, Site and Facilities Manager, Parrs Wood High School

What types of documents/information should be shredded?

The main data held by schools, colleges or universities is likely to be student records. Although these have to be held for a certain amount of time after a student leaves, records are likely to contain personal information such as student names, addresses and dates of birth as well as educational information, which needs to be securely held and destroyed once no longer required.

Additionally, records relating to staff and past recruitment will be held. Some of these records may still be relevant if staff are current or left within the last few years, but older records should be disposed of securely to avoid security concerns, as these again will hold personal information.

Financial and admin records are another area to carefully consider, as keeping these records indefinitely would be best scanned, stored in the cloud and then shredded securely.

How long to keep records and secure destruction for recycling

Setting a timeframe for holding records is a good idea as you have a responsibility as a data holder to give the people the data relates to access to it while you hold it, which may prove a challenge if your records go back years, and secondly you may simply run out of space for storing it all.

Document shredding is the most secure way to dispose of old paperwork, but asking academic or admin staff to conduct these clearances using a noisy office shredder will likely not be the best use of their time. Using a secure shredding service such as B&M Secure Shredding, who will do this job for you including collection, shredding to BS EN 15713 standards and ensuring 100% is recycled, is the safest and quickest way to overcome this challenge.

Paul Curtis, Director of B&M Secure Shredding “Education establishments will have to prove that they are working with a credible organisation when it comes to disposal of confidential paperwork. B&M Secure Shredding are BSIA members accredited to ISO 9001, and are vetted to the BS EN 15713 standard, which covers the secure destruction of confidential material, so our education customers can be assured our service is of the highest quality.”