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A Teacher Breached My Child’s Personal Data, Can I Claim?

If a teacher breached your child’s personal data, you may be wondering whether you’re eligible to seek compensation. In cases where the schools wrongful conduct caused your child’s personal data to be breached resulting in them suffering harm, you may be able to claim compensation on their behalf. This guide will help you understand the steps you can take to launch a data breach claim on behalf of your child.

Teacher breached child's personal data

Teacher breached my child’s personal data claims guide

Additionally, in this guide, we’ll help you understand what constitutes a valid claim and why your child may be eligible for data breach compensation. We have also aimed to answer the following questions throughout our guide:

  • What is personal data in schools?
  • What personal information do schools process and why do they need to keep it safe?
  • What happens if a teacher breaches the UK GDPR?
  • What is a common example of a personal data breach in schools?
  • Who has access to a child’s personal information held in schools?
  • Can you sue a school for leaking personal information?

You might already be eager to take action. If so, our advisors are on hand to offer free legal advice. Furthermore, we can provide a data breach solicitor to represent the claim on a No Win No Fee basis, provided it’s valid. 

To get in touch, you can:

  • Call us on 0800 073 8804
  • Use our live chat function which is available 24/7
  • Or fill in our online contact form

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Data Protection In Schools

There is legislation in place to protect your child’s personal data. As a data controller, schools have a responsibility to protect pupils’ personal data under the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA). This piece of legislation was updated after the UK left the European Union and sits alongside the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR).

A data controller decides how data is collected and used, whilst a data processor, usually an external party, processes data on behalf of the data controller. If a data controller or processor does not adhere to data protection laws, then if you are or your child is harmed because personal information is breached, under these laws you could be eligible to make a claim.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) enforces data protection law and issues fines as well as other enforcement actions to organisations that fail to adhere to the legislation in place.

The ICO defines a personal data breach as a security incident that impacts the availability, integrity or confidentiality of an individual’s personal data. An incident of this nature may lead to your personal data being unlawfully or accidentally accessed, destroyed, lost, altered or disclosed without authorisation.

What Is Education Data? 

Education data refers to information that forms part of an educational record.

Under Article 15 of the UK GDPR, pupils have a right to access information that schools hold on them. Also, parents have a right to access their child’s educational records. 

UK GDPR Compliance For Teachers 

There are several core principles of UK GDPR that schools must comply with, including:

  • Using data lawfully, fairly and transparently
  • Only processing data for the purpose that was originally intended
  • Limiting the data you hold to what is necessary for the purpose of processing
  • Keeping information updated, for example, home addresses and phone numbers
  • Only holding personal data for as long as it’s needed
  • Having security measures in place to protect personal data
  • Taking responsibility for the personal data held and complying with the other principles

If a school failed to adhere to UK GDPR, it could risk a fine from the ICO. Furthermore, a data breach could lead to the child suffering psychological harm

What Sensitive And Personal Data Could Teachers Have Access To?

The ICO defines personal data as information that can be used to identify someone, such as a student’s name, address, email address or phone number. However, some data requires more protection due to it being considered more sensitive. For example, data containing information on a student’s:

  • Racial or ethnic origin
  • Religious belief 
  • Medical data
  • Sexual orientation

If a teacher breached your child’s personal data, speak to our team to find out how we could help. Otherwise, continue reading our guide. 

How Could A Teacher Have Breached Your Child’s Personal Data?

Breaches of data may happen in schools for a number of reasons, including human error or failure to put procedures in place to reduce the chance of a personal data breach occurring. Examples might include:

  • Wrong postal address: Although your correct address is on the school system, a teacher may have sent a letter containing personal information regarding your child to the wrong address.
  • Lack of cyber security: The school’s database may not have up-to-date cyber security, resulting in hackers stealing your child’s personal data.
  • Lack of data protection training: A teacher may have failed to store your child’s educational record securely, meaning it was accessed by someone who was not authorised. This may have resulted from the school failing to ensure their staff received adequate training on protecting pupils’ personal data.

What Happens If A Teacher Breaches the UK GDPR? 

According to the latest data security incident trends published by the ICO, for the third fiscal quarter of 2021/22 the education and childcare sector is the second most affected by data security incidents. During this time 2,404 were reported to the ICO. 

If a teacher breached your child’s personal data, it could impact them in various ways. For example, if sensitive information was breached, it could lead to your child being discriminated against or harassed.

This could cause them to experience emotional distress or other psychological harm such as depression. Additionally, you may suffer from financial loss as a result of taking time off work to care for your child.

For more information on the steps you could take following a personal data breach, our advisors are on hand 24/7. You can call on the number above.

Could Teachers Be Fined For Breaching A Child’s Data Privacy?

The ICO can investigate data breach incidents and may fine organisations that are found to be responsible, including schools. A school should report a data breach incident to the ICO when personal data has been breached and it affects rights and freedoms. It must do so within 72 hours and without undue delay inform those affected. 

Back in 2018, a former headteacher was fined in court for processing students’ personal data without a lawful basis. There was no lawful reason to process the personal data, this meant he had breached data protection laws. 

If you have evidence that a teacher breached your child’s personal data, call our team to find out about making a claim on behalf of your child. 

A Teacher Breached My Child’s Personal Data – What Could Be Awarded?

If the school data breach claim is successful two Heads of Loss can be claimed for. These are:

  • Material damages: These cover any financial losses or expenses incurred by the breach of your personal data. However, you must provide evidence to claim these losses back. For example, you could provide payslips to highlight any loss of earnings. 
  • Non-material damages: These provide compensation that accounts for psychological harm caused by the breach, for example anxiety.

Previously, you were only able to claim for psychological damages if you had suffered financial harm. However, following Vidal-Hall and others v Google Inc (2015), the Court of Appeal ruled that it is possible to claim for a psychiatric injury caused by a data breach without claiming financial losses.

In order to accurately value how much compensation is owed, solicitors may use a publication called the Judicial College Guidelines to help them. We have used figures from the guidelines to create the table below. Please only use these as a guide though, because the actual settlement you receive will differ. 

InjuryCompensation RangeNotes
Severe Psychiatric Damage Generally (a)£54,830 to £115,730The person will experience significant problems with different aspects of their life and have a very poor prognosis.
Moderately Psychiatric Damage Generally (b)£19,070 to £54,830The prognosis will be better than in more severe cases.
Moderate Psychiatric Damage Generally (c)£5,860 to £19,070The person will have a good prognosis and will have made a significant improvement.
Less Severe Psychiatric Damage Generally (d)£1,540 to £5,860Factors such as how long the person has been affected will be considered.
Severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (a)£59,860 to £100,670The person may find all aspects of their life are affected, including their ability to work and sleep.
Moderately Severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (b)£23,150 to £59,860Professional help may improve the prognosis.
Moderate Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (c)£8,180 to £23,150The person will have mostly recovered with some moderate symptoms continuing.
Less Severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (d)£3,950 to £8,180The person will have largely recovered within two years.

Alternatively, you could use our data breach compensation calculator to get a rough estimate of what your claim is worth. However, if you would like a free and more accurate estimate, you can call our team on the number above.

Contact Us If A Teacher Breached Your Child’s Personal Data

Our solicitors offer their services on a No Win No Fee basis. As such, they could represent the claim under a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) without requiring any upfront costs for their services. 

Additionally, there is no success fee if the claim fails or any ongoing fees while the claim proceeds. If the claim is successful, a success fee from the compensation is needed. However, this fee is subject to a legal cap.

To find out whether an experienced data breach solicitor working on a No Win No Fee basis, can help you speak to our team. They can also answer any other questions you may have regarding the potential claim.

To get in touch, you can:

  • Call us on 0800 073 8804
  • Use our live chat function which is available 24/7
  • Or fill in our online contact form

More Resources On What To Do If A Teacher Breached Your Child’s Personal Data

Here are some additional resources that you may find helpful:

We hope this guide on what to do if a teacher breached your child’s personal data has helped. However, if you need any further information, call our team on the number above.

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