Educational Data Breaches

Like any other organisation entrusted with your data, educational data breaches can and do occur and they should be held liable. The years which people devote to education can be challenging and stressful but they also build lasting memories and long term friendships. Regardless of your mode of study, the pursuit of an important qualification including GCSEs, A-Levels, diplomas and degrees takes time and devotion.

What personal data do schools, colleges and universities collect?

When you enroll yourself or your child at a place of education or on an educational course you will need to provide personal information. The types of personal data you will be expected to provide include full name, date of birth, address and contact details. In addition to this you will often need to give details of any medical issues, learning difficulties and financial details.

It is extremely important that the organisation holding your personal data has implemented sufficient security to keep your personal data safe. We understand how disruptive and upsetting it is when your personal data is lost, or shared accidentally with an unauthorised person. For example, your university might email your exam results to the wrong person or your college might disclose your medical data to other students by mistake. There are of course situations when your educational data is shared legitimately and with your consent but in our experience, educational institutions, like any other business, can and do make careless mistakes when handling personal data.

How can DRM Legal help with educational data breach claims?

DRM Legal specialises in data breach claims with a particular aim towards protecting individuals who have been affected by a data breach. We know that studying can be stressful enough without the additional distress of a data breach. We are here to help our clients to claim compensation for the distress and embarrassment caused by an educational data breach.

Unlike most other industries, not all education providers have managed to keep up with the technology and the data protection laws. Reporting systems within schools may not be  secure (or encrypted) and filing systems may be inadequate. It is extremely important that the organisations who are storing such personal data ensure it is protected; but sometimes, data is lost or accessed by unauthorised parties. The staff entrusted to handle your educational data must be trained in data protection and handling procedures. Too often, the staff employed by educational institutions do not take their responsibilities seriously or they have not received adequate training.

An educational facility is liable for the failure to protect your data if they did not follow their own internal procedures (such as data destruction policies) or if their security systems are inadequate. Educational data breaches frequently occur because of human error, however the offending organisation will still be liable for the breach.

If you believe that you are a victim of an educational data breach, you should contact our team at DRM Legal to help you to claim the compensation that you deserve. We give our clients our undivided attention when making a claim for data protection breaches. Unlike many other data breach solicitors, we will not ask you to join a group action with hundreds of other people claiming for the same breach. Everybody is different and should be treated as an individual so we will always focus on how the data breach has affected you, and only you.

Example of a data breach which has been sanctioned by the ICO

  • In 2018 the University of Greenwich has been fined £120,000 by the Information Commissioner following a “serious” security breach involving the personal data of nearly 20,000 people.

Educational data breaches tend to happen on a much smaller scale, usually affecting just one individual, but the consequences can be devastating. For example:

In March 2020, a Head Teacher of a primary school sent a letter to the parents of 60 students about the behavioural issues of a girl with Downs Syndrome in the same school. The court awarded the girl’s mother £3,000 in compensation and £1,500 to her daughter for the distress which she and her family had suffered because of the breach.

In February 2019 Mount Primary School in Merseyside sent an email demanding outstanding childcare fees from one parent to the parents of 300 pupils in the school. The ICO investigated the breach and the parent received an apology from the school. It is not known whether the parent pursued a data breach compensation claim.

Compensation for distress caused by educational data breach

Unlike other data breaches involving, for example, financial information, educational data breaches are usually based on the distress you have suffered, rather than/in addition to financial loss. However, this is not always the case as the loss of any personal data may lead to fraud as cyber criminals are becoming more inventive in the way they monetise stolen personal data.

If you have suffered a data breach, you will know how far-reaching its effects can be. The data breach may impact your relationships, job opportunities or progression. Or it may cause significant distress and loss of confidence. The initial stress you suffer when you become aware of the breach may result in a diagnosis of anxiety or depression or it may exacerbate an existing medical condition. Following a data breach many of our clients experience stress, disrupted sleep, anxiety and confidence issues. At DRM Legal, we think these ill effects are just as important as any financial loss.

We understand that distress affects everybody differently and we are here to help you through this. If you have suffered a data breach or if your personal data has been lost, you have the right to claim compensation

You can make a claim for compensation against:

  • Schools (public or private)
  • Universities
  • Colleges
  • Academies
  • Exam boards
  • Nurseries

How to make an educational data breach claim

Get in touch with our team to find out whether you may have a data breach claim. If we think that you do have a valid claim for compensation, we will act for you on a no win-no fee basis. This means you have nothing to lose by pursuing your claim, whether or not it succeeds.

Once you have given us the details of your claim, we will consider these and let you know how much compensation you could receive if you were to make a claim. You can then instruct DRM Legal to proceed with your claim and get the compensation you deserve.

If you would like to claim, fill out our claim form now or call our team to discuss your case.