Skip to the main content

CALL FOR MORE INFORMATION
0344 863 8000
info@arenagroup.net
Sign up for our Newsletter
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon

Records management and the BSF storage conundrum

Records management and the BSF storage conundrum

The spread of new academies across the country has brought with it an array of stunning new BSF buildings. Academy status also often bestows a qualified business manager to take control of budgets. However, with every possible learning resource granted to them, some new academies appear to be under-resourced when it comes to handling the legal requirements surrounding records management.

The Building Schools for the Future (BSF) program is spreading, inspiring new buildings across the UK designed to maximise the sustainable education experience. Many boast the newest technology and usually academy status that shifts budgets and decision-making responsibility to senior management teams. It seems that almost every resource is dedicated to the learning environment and, looking from the outside in, it’s difficult to see a down side.

However, many of these multi-million pound facilities mirror the same design features: large atriums and expansive, minimally furnished communal spaces. This sometimes contrasts with a distinct absence of space for business support functions and critical documents that go hand-in-hand with renewed management responsibility.

The legal landscape


The Information Commissioner’s Office is ever-more strict regarding data breaches in education. Schools are under the spotlight and feeling the pressure of increasingly stringent rules.

It’s a fact that schools are legally obliged to keep sensitive records, such as child protection files, locked away for access only by authorised staff (ie; a child protection officer) for the lifetime of the children concerned. With modern medicine moving on in leaps and bounds, we are talking about upwards of 90 years. Other documents must be retained for 7 years before they are securely destroyed – and keeping a file for too long can be just as troublesome as letting go too soon.

Freedom of Information requests add a further headache in the form of short notice demands for records that may be buried in an archive of paper files. Add to this the requirement to audit who looks at documents, when and exactly what they do; and you are presented with a challenge to the scale of literally thousands upon thousands of pages. In SEN schools the issue is exploded with head teachers managing around 10 times the number of records held by a regular secondary school.

Ticking paper time bombs


With all of this to contend with, some head teachers are sitting in older buildings with vast paper archives stacked up in basements, offices and store rooms.

It's no surprise that almost every school - gifted academy status or not – is being forced to consider what to do with all of that paper. Landing a new BSF building that promises practically no storage space simply adds the pressure of a deadline.

This issue is widespread but only seen in the press when a school falls foul of the regulations, having failed to produce files for a legal case, suffered a security breach or lost records in a crisis such as a fire.

So, what options are there?

1.    Manage the paper in-house

This means taking on the associated risks of loss, damage and legal cases.

2.    External storage

This can be expensive and problematic when it comes to data security and retrieval.

3.    Digitise your archive and paper-driven processes.

A good electronic document and records management system (or, EDRMS) and processes in place including a sound records management policy, can retain the legal admissibility of your documents. You are also afforded greater control over security and you can shred the paper.

Many schools are opting for the this third measure, scanning documents in-house to a central database. This is a step in the right direction but throwing every document into one central, un-structured, electronic space presents problems with security and retrieval. For this reason it's wise to consider specialist software.

Whichever option you choose, there are some key considerations worth making;

Security

Think about how you store your paper files and look for a software package that will replicate it. Remember, you must be able to evidence that sensitive documents are secure and accessible only to authorised personnel.

Audits

Make sure your system enables you to track who is accessing which data, when and why.

Retrieval

Consider how you want to search for documents once they are digitally stored.

Integration

A good EDRMS package will work with your existing software, including common databases such as SIMS, or function-specific software, like SAGE. Think carefully before replacing anything - it could be a lengthy and stressful task.

Experience and Support

Choose an established application that’s made for schools, buy directly from the developer to ensure you get top notch support and always ask for references.

A phased approach

The task can appear daunting so most good EDRMS software providers will be happy to advise and help you to create a plan based around your needs.

Breaking the task into chunks will make it easier to manage, so decide whether to tackle current or archive documents first and then consider which document types to start with. For example, you may begin by training your staff to digitise current student records whilst outsourcing the scanning of your paper archive to a specialist with the expertise and staff resources.

About Lisa Butterworth

Marketing Manager
Tel: 0800 863 8000 | Email: LisaB@arenagroup.net | Twitter: @MrsButterwth

Lisa Butterworth is a Chartered Marketer with over 10 years of B2B and B2C experience in sectors including education, packaging and software. Currently Lisa is the Marketing Manager for Arena Group, never ceasing to be fascinated by technology made to make paperwork more efficient and simple to deal with.

Further Information

Related Articles

 

Expert News


View all news

© 2020 Arena Group Ltd | Cookies & Privacy | Terms of use | Web design by eskimosoup | Accessibility

The Arena Group comprises: Arena Group Holdings Limited, a company registered in England and Wales (with registered company number 03735943 and VAT number 734562528) and its subsidiary company: Arena Group Limited a company registered in England and Wales (with registered company number 02168309 and VAT number 458238033). The Registered office of all Arena Group companies is Armitage House, Thorpe Lower Lane, Robin Hood, Wakefield, WF3 3BQ. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for credit-related regulated activities.

Welcome to Arena online!

Acorn customers can access Arena Group’s award winning customer support directly through the Arena website. You can also browse our products and services, and catch up on our activities including events, news and blogs.

You will continue to be supported by the same dedicated team using the same telephone numbers you use now. You can also book service support online, all available from our website www.arenagroup.net/support

Thank you, please close this message

Welcome to Arena online!

Fovia customers can access Arena Group’s award winning customer support directly through the Arena website. You can also browse our products and services, and catch up on our activities including events, news and blogs.

You will continue to be supported by the same dedicated team using the same telephone numbers you use now. You can also book service support online, all available from our website www.arenagroup.net/support

Thank you, please close this message