05 July, 2023
Earlier this month, the Department for Education (Dfe), announced that it was seeking views on the revision to its guidance "Information Sharing Advice for Practitioners Providing Safeguarding Services to Children, Young People, Parents and Carers".
This non-statutory guidance provides information sharing advice to organisations that work with children and young people in sectors including education. The Information Sharing Advice was last updated in July 2018 following the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018. More recently, the government has committed to revising the Information Sharing Advice to address concerns that there are legal impediments to sharing information.
A copy of the Draft Information Sharing Advice is available to view here
The Draft Information Sharing Advice sets out seven golden rules for sharing information. These are as follows:
The draft advice makes it clear that data protection law does not prevent the sharing of information for the purposes of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of young people. In fact, data protection law provides a framework which supports information sharing in that context. Additionally, the guidance confirms that consent is not usually the most appropriate way in which information can be shared under data protection law.
The draft advice goes on to provide a FAQ section on different areas of information sharing including how information should be shared and what to tell the people whose information has been shared.
The advice is for organisations that work with children, young people, parents, carers and families, in sectors such as social care, education, health and justice. Therefore, it will be applicable to the FE sector as children is defined as anyone under the age of 18 years.
As we approach the end of term, it is usually around this time that the ICO issues guidance on sharing personal data in urgent situations for universities and colleges. This guidance reminds all those working within universities and colleges that they should not hesitate to share student personal data in order to prevent serious harm to the physical or mental well-being of a student in an emergency situation, or protect a life.
Similarly to the Draft Information Sharing Advice, the ICO guidance for universities and colleges confirms that data protection law allows organisations to share personal data in an urgent or emergency situation, including to help them prevent loss of life or serious physical, emotional or mental harm and the ICO will not penalise an organisation for acting in good faith and in the public interest in an urgent or emergency situation.
A copy of the latest version of the ICO guidance is available to view here.
Whilst data protection concerns are understandable, the key points to takeaway from this guidance is that data protection law should not be used as a reason for not sharing information when it comes to safeguarding the physical and mental well-being of young people.
The DfE consultation is open until the 6th September 2023. The consultation details are available to view here.
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