Best Practice

Safeguarding: How long do we keep records for?

Safeguarding and data protection are high accountability responsibilities which are closely inter-related. Craig Stilwell and Helen King consider how long we should keep different staff and student records for
Image: Adobe Stock

Safeguarding and data protection are two crucial responsibilities for school leaders which could be perceived to have conflicting priorities.

Safeguarding is quite rightly a highly sensitive issue where schools must tread carefully, but there are circumstances where data-sharing needs to be encouraged.

The difficulty comes in knowing when and how to apply the right approach in order to avoid making serious mistakes with sensitive information.

Record-keeping is one area where a restrictive data protection approach could potentially create big problems in the future. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), for example, has suggested that any records relating to sexual abuse should stay where a disclosure was made as well as being transferred when the child moves on (Jay et al, 2022).

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