A Guide To Claiming For Data Protection Breaches In Schools

By Marlon Wilkinson. Last Updated 14th July 2022. Parents and guardians of students trust schools to safeguard their children. Similarly, schools should take reasonable measures to ensure their employees work within a safe environment. As well as this, when a school collects, holds or processes personal data, it should protect it. Unfortunately, data protection breaches in schools do sometimes happen.

What do you do if a school has breached your personal data privacy or your child’s personal data privacy? You may be eligible to claim compensation. However, you would need to prove that the school’s failings caused a data breach and that you (or your child) suffered psychologically or financially as a result.

Call Legal Helpline today on 0161 696 9685 to see if you can begin your claim. A claims advisor will speak to you in-depth about your circumstances. And if we can see that you have a favourable claim, we could connect you with our panel of solicitors.

Alternatively, use our data breach claims form to make an online enquiry. Or you can use our live chat to get instant answers.

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A Guide On Compensation Claims For Data Protection Breaches In Schools

Schools are responsible for protecting the health and safety of their pupils and staff when they are on their premises. Similarly, under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was enacted into UK law through the Data Protection Act 2018, schools should also protect the personal information of staff and students that they collect.

Schools data breach compensation claims guide

School data breach compensation claims guide

The school should have security measures to protect personal information. For example, the school could give their staff members personal data management training. This is to avoid errors that can lead to data breaches in the school.

The GDPR also states that if a personal data breach occurs at a school, those affected could claim compensation. If a school’s failings have caused a data breach involving your personal data, you may be eligible to claim compensation if you’ve suffered financial loss or psychological harm as a result. You could claim compensation on your child’s behalf if their mental health was impacted. In this guide, we will explain how to claim compensation for data breaches in schools.

Is there a time limit for making a data breach claim in the UK?

Yes. In many circumstances, there is a time limit of 6 years to make a data breach claim. However, if the data breach violated the person’s human rights, there is a one-year time limit. If you’ve got evidence of a justifiable compensation claim for data protection breaches in schools, call our advisors today. Alternatively, you can use our online enquiry form to request a callback.

What Are Data Breaches In Schools?

Any personal data breach begins with a security incident involving the protection of personal data. For example, data breaches can happen if personal information becomes stolen or lost. Or it can be when an individual accesses the data without permission or a lawful reason. Data breaches can also happen if personal data is disclosed, changed or destroyed without authorisation or a lawful basis.

If a data breach at a school occurs, it can be a distressing experience for those involved. Because schools safeguard children and young people, the personal data they collect can be of a sensitive nature.

In extreme cases, a school data breach can jeopardise a child’s safety. What’s more, if a school data breach involves the unwarranted disclosure of parents’ financial details or personal information that could allow someone to commit identity theft, it could lead to financial losses.

What Is Sharing Personal Data With A Third Party?

The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) is European Union law. The GDPR protects the data security and privacy rights of the public. The Data Protection Act 2018 enacts the GDPR into the laws of the United Kingdom. In the UK, schools and colleges that process or collect personal data should follow the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018.

The General Data Protection Regulation defines the following roles. Firstly, there is the data subject. The data subject is an individual whose personal data is collected by a school. For example, a child at the school, their parent or guardian, or a school employee could be data subjects.

Secondly, there is the data controller. This is an organisation or body that decides how the personal data should be collected, processed and stored. They are also sometimes responsible for carrying out the task.

Finally, there is the data processor. This is an organisation, such as an agency, which is sometimes used to act on the directions of the data controller. They’ll process data on their behalf.

The GDPR requires the data controller or data processor to do the following when collecting personal data:

  • A data subject must permit them to collect their data before they’re able to do so.
  • They must explain to the data subject why they are collecting their data. Most importantly, they must not use personal data for another purpose unless there is a lawful basis to do so.
  • They must not share a data subject’s personal data without their permission or a lawful reason.
  • In addition, they are responsible for following all relevant data protection laws.

Examples Of Data Protection Breaches In Schools

How can data breaches happen?

Breaches of the Data Protection Act in schools can take place because of errors made by school employees. For example, a school receptionist could leave a paper file containing personal information on a desk in the school waiting area. Therefore, unauthorised persons could have access to the data. Although this may be an unintentional error, it is still a breach of data privacy and could be harmful to those involved if accessed.

Cyber Attacks On Schools And Colleges

Furthermore, there are also instances where cybercriminals may hack into a school online system. They may do so by exploiting weaknesses in the school’s cybersecurity network. A cyberattack may be carried out using malware. This type of malicious software can enable hackers to covertly access personal data. This can also apply to university data breaches as they will also be using teaching software or email communication systems that can be hacked into.

What can be the result of criminals attacking a school?

Criminals may use personal data to target families and employees for identity theft or fraud. For example, they may use the contact details of parents or guardians of children at a private school for push payment fraud. This means that the fraudsters may pose as the school and demand that the parents make a bank transfer payment into their account. These sorts of scams can lead to individuals losing thousands of pounds.

If you have been affected mentally or financially by a school data breach, you may be eligible to make a school data breach claim. School employees, parents or guardians could claim if their personal data was breached due to failings in data protection security. Furthermore, a parent or guardian could claim compensation on behalf of their child.

To see if you could begin your claim for a breach of school data protection, call Legal Helpline today. If we can see that you have a good chance of receiving compensation, we could connect you with our panel of data breach solicitors.

Types Of Compensation That May Be Awarded For A Data Breach

If you make a successful data breach claim, what type of compensation could you be awarded? You can receive up to two heads of claim.

  1. Material damages: These compensate you for any financial losses suffered because of a data breach.
  2. Non-material damages: These compensate the claimant for any psychological harm caused by the data breach. This can include psychological injuries.

Sadly, many victims of data breaches can find the incident distressing. This can be especially true if sensitive information was accessed. And, in extreme cases, a data breach victim might develop psychological injuries such as anxiety, stress or depression. They may find it difficult to concentrate at school or work, suffer a loss of appetite or have trouble sleeping.

You might also suffer financially due to the data breach. For example, you may have to pay for subsequent therapy where the NHS wasn’t able to cover costs. If your bank details are accessed, you may experience theft. If you can prove these costs were caused by the data breach (through invoices, bank statements or affected credit scores, for example), you could recover them in a claim.

Data Protection Breach Compensation

We can show you potential compensation for non-material damages in data protection claims by showing you the compensation examples listed in the 2022 edition of the Judicial College Guidelines. This is a publication typically used in assessing compensation for injuries in claims and contains a listing of psychological injuries for which you could receive compensation in a UK GDPR breach claim.

Type And Severity Of InjuryInjury NotesEstimated Compensation
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - SevereClaims for cases of PTSD require specific diagnosis of reactive psychiatric disorders. This injury will have been caused by events which led to a psychological trauma.£59,860 to £100,670
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - Moderately severeThe person will have suffered or be suffering effects similar to the claimant in the above category, however this will be to a less severe degree.£23,150 to £59,860
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - ModerateAt the time of making a claim, claimants should largely have made a recovery. £8,180 to £23,150
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - Less SevereThe claimant will have more or less recovered within two years£3,950 to £8,180
Psychiatric Damage - SevereThis is the most serious degree of psychiatric damage. The settlement will take into account factors including, the claimant's ability to continue and deal with their education or work as well as general relationships. £54,830 to £115,730
Psychiatric Damage - Moderately severeThe same areas of the claimants life will have been affected as above. However, this will be to a lower degree and with a better outlook for the future. £19,070 to £54,830
Psychiatric Damage - ModerateAgain, the claimant will have already made a better degree of recovery than the above and will have a better outlook for future recovery. £5,860 to £19,070
Psychiatric Damage - Less severeSettlements are dependent on how severe the degree of injury was and how long the recovery took.£1,540 to £5,860

Medical evidence of your psychological injury may play an important part in making a successful claim. If you have not already received a diagnosis for your psychological injury, a solicitor from our panel could help by arranging an independent medical assessment on your behalf.

To see if our solicitors could help you, please reach out to one of our advisors to discuss your school data breach claim.

How To Report A School To The Information Commissioner’s Office

The Data Protection Act 2018 requires schools to report data breaches to the Information Commissioner’s Office within 72 hours of the incident. (However, they would only have to do this if the data breach affected the freedoms and rights of data subjects.) After that, the ICO could investigate the breach.

Can a school be fined for a breach of data protection?

If the ICO determine that it’s necessary, the school may be issued with an ICO fine for the data breach.

What can you do if you do not believe that the school has reported the data breach?

You could contact the ICO to report the data breach. However, we recommend you first contact the school to raise your concerns formally. If you do not receive a helpful response from the school, you could contact the ICO to raise your concerns.

However, please note that the Information Commissioner’s Office’s decisions can be affected if complaints are delayed. So please get in touch with them within three months of your last meaningful contact with the school.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has a guide on raising concerns to help you.

Remember, the ICO is able to offer you compensation. However, we could help if you have evidence of a justifiable claim. Get in touch with our advisors for free legal advice.

No Win No Fee Claims For Data Protection Breaches In Schools

If you or your child have been affected mentally or financially by a data protection breach in a school, you may be eligible to claim compensation. Our panel of lawyers could handle your compensation claim on a No Win No Fee basis.

This means that you won’t have to pay an upfront or an hourly solicitor’s fee. Instead, you’d pay a success fee if your claim is successful. This fee is a pre-agreed, small percentage of the compensation and it’s lawfully capped.

And if your claim is not successful, you would not have to pay a success fee. You would sign a Condition Fee Agreement (another term for No Win No Fee agreement) to confirm this.

Many claimants opt to make a No Win No Fee data breach claim. To see if No Win No Fee claims are the right option for you, why not reach out to us today?

How To Get Help From A Data Breach Lawyer

At Legal Helpline, we are confident in the service we can offer those who suffer because of a personal data breach. If you wish to claim compensation for a data breach, we could help you. Our panel of lawyers offer their services on a No Win No Fee basis.

Some of the benefits of using the services of a solicitor include the below.

  • They can value your claim accurately.
  • You won’t have to source evidence and go through the claims process alone.
  • They negotiate on your behalf to try and win you the maximum amount of compensation you deserve.

Legal Helpline’s solicitors have experience handling data breach claims. And, if you’re not sure you’d like to use the services of a solicitor, we offer free legal advice to anyone looking to claim compensation. So, call us today for your free data breach claims consultation.

How To Begin Your Data Protection Claim

If you wish to make a data breach claim, we recommend that you first contact the school where the breach of data protection took place. They may be able to resolve the problem. However, if after speaking to the school you are not completely satisfied, consider claiming compensation.

You could only claim if the other side’s failings led to a data breach that caused you or your child psychological harm or financial damage. You’d also need evidence to do so. To find out more, why not get in touch?

Speak To A Specialist Solicitor

If you believe you are owed compensation for a school data breach, Legal Helpline can help you. So why not contact us today? And if we believe that you have a claim with a good chance of success, we could connect you with a skilled data breach solicitor from our panel.

Start your claim by contacting us using the details below:

  • Call us on 0161 696 9685.
  • Use our online compensation claims form to contact us for a callback.
  • Chat to an advisor using the Live Support widget.

FAQs On Data Protection Breaches In Schools

Here are some answers to questions we are often asked.

What are my legal rights if my personal data is breached?

When an organisation breaches a person’s personal data privacy, that individual has the right to claim compensation. They could be able to do so if they suffer psychologically or financially because of the breach and the breach was caused by the other side’s data security failings.

If my data has been breached, what should I do?

We recommend changing your passwords as a security precaution if necessary. Then contact the organisation that breached your data to see if they can help you.

If a GDPR breach takes place, can I claim compensation?

Under the GDPR, you could have the right to claim compensation if your personal data is involved in a data breach and it causes you psychological or financial damage.

Learn More About Data Privacy

We hope this guide to claiming compensation for a data protection breach at a school has been helpful. You may also find these online guides informative.

Employer Breach Of Data Protection, What Are My Rights?

Medical Data Breach Compensation Claims Explained

Pharmacy GDPR Data Breach Claims

External Information

This government guide to protecting your personal data may be helpful.

The General Data Protection Regulation.

Action the ICO has taken

Thank you for reading our guide to data protection breaches in schools.

Written by HC

Edited by RV