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School Data Breach Compensation Claims

By Stephen Hudson. Last Updated 28th June 2024. Welcome to our guide to school data breach claims with recent school data breach examples. Schools and educational institutions handle a large amount of personal data. Some of this data may relate to staff and some to students, past and present. Some of this information is sensitive, especially when it relates to medical information, for example.

Multiple padlocks sitting on top of a laptop

No matter how sensitive the personal data a school collects, stores and processes, it must abide by data protection law. Unfortunately, however, things can go wrong, and if you or your child has fallen victim to a school data breach, you could be eligible to claim compensation. We have created this guide to help you understand when you may be able to make a data breach compensation claim against a school, and how the process works.

This guide also offers insight into how a data breach lawyer from Legal Expert could help you. If you have any questions about a personal data breach claim, or you’re ready to get started and would like a lawyer to help you, please call our team on 0800 073 8804. You can also contact us online using our contact form or our 24/7 live chat service. We will be happy to help you and to advise you on how to claim. We could even check your eligibility to claim, free of charge.

Select A Section

  1. Examples Of Data Breaches In Schools
  2. Data Protection And UK GDPR Requirements For Schools
  3. What Happens If A School Breaches UK GDPR?
  4. Claims For Data Protection Breaches In Schools
  5. Do I Need Evidence To Claim For A Breach Of Data Protection In Schools?
  6. How Much Could I Claim For A School Data Breach?
  7. No Win No Fee Data Breach Solicitors
  8. Start Your School Data Breach Claim

Examples Of Data Breaches In Schools

Under the UK General Data Regulation Protection (UK GDPR), you may be eligible for compensation if you have suffered emotional distress or financial harm after a breach of data protection in schools.

You might be unsure about what a valid data breach claim might entail. However, below you will find examples of data breaches in schools to give you an idea:

  • A school could send a letter containing your child’s personal data to the wrong postal address, despite having your correct address on file.
  • A teacher might breach your child’s personal data if they fail to safely store your child’s educational records, meaning an unauthorised person can access the information.
  • A school may fail to update their computer systems and without having adequate security measures implemented, the systems could be susceptible to attacks from cybercriminals. Subsequently, your child’s personal data could be breached.

Don’t worry if you can’t relate to the UK GDPR breach examples featured above. If a school has caused a data breach in which your personal data was compromised, and you experienced a psychological injury or financial loss, you could make a data breach claim. Get in touch for more information.

What Is A Data Breach?

The ICO defines a data breach as a security incident that affects the availability, integrity or confidentiality of personal data. It could involve data being subject to:

  • Unauthorised/ unlawful access or destruction
  • Loss of personal data or loss of availability of data
  • The disclosure, transmission or alteration of personal data without permission
  • Data theft

Data Protection And UK GDPR Requirements For Schools

Schools have legal responsibilities to protect personal information under UK GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018. The UK Government has put together a toolkit for schools to use when putting in place policies and procedures to ensure UK GDPR compliance.

It involves raising awareness of data protection among all members of staff and ensuring those that process personal data are educated on how to do so in accordance with UK GDPR. It also offers guidance for school leaders and those involved with data management in creating a secure data security system that reduces the risk of human error and other incidents leading to data breaches.

What Are The Principles Of UK GDPR?

The principles of UK GDPR that schools must abide by include:

  • Accountability
  • Accuracy
  • Data minimisation
  • Integrity and confidentiality (security)
  • Lawfulness, fairness and transparency
  • Purpose limitation
  • Storage limitation

These principles should be at the forefront of any organisation that processes personal data. A failure to adhere to these 7 principles of UK GDPR, leading to a breach of personal data, could result in a school facing fines.

Not only this, but it could lead to victims of data breaches claiming compensation for identity theft, financial loss, privacy violation, reputational damage and psychological harm.

What Happens If A School Breaches UK GDPR?

A school should have robust procedures to act when data breaches occur. Under UK GDPR, any breach of personal data that affects the freedoms and rights of individuals should be reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). This means that any breach that could risk harm to an individual in any of the following ways should be reported:

  • Discrimination, including harassment
  • Identity theft or fraud
  • Financial loss
  • Reputational damage
  • Loss of confidentiality of personal data under protection by professional secrecy
  • They must also ensure that they report any data breaches where sensitive personal information is compromised.

Schools must also inform individuals whose data has been breached about the incident.

Claims For Data Protection Breaches In Schools

If there is a school data breach in which personal data about children is leaked or stolen at a school and you or your children are affected by this, you may have questions about making a claim. If there is evidence that the affected school failed to take reasonable action to prevent a data breach incident from occurring, then it may be possible to start a claim against the school.

It is your choice whether you hire a data breach lawyer to support your potential claim. We would recommend hiring the services of a solicitor who has previously handled data breach claims, since they can make use of their experience and expertise to guide you through the important steps of making a claim.

How Long Do I Have To Claim For A School Data Breach?

When claiming due to a breach of data protection in schools, the time limit can differ depending on the status of the school in general.

Typically, you have 6 years to claim if you are claiming against a public body. However, if you are claiming against a private body then the time limit is just 1 year.

It is important to know the status of your school when making a claim against them, as this could affect your time limit. There are other factors that could affect the time you have to claim as well. If you’d like to find out whether you are still within your time limit, get in touch with our advisors today.

Do I Need Evidence To Claim For A Breach Of Data Protection In Schools?

When making any compensation claim, having evidence is vital for proving not only liability but the harm suffered either by you or your child. Evidence that could be useful in a data breach claim includes: 

  • Confirmation of the breach from the ICO. As stated above, the ICO must be informed of reportable breaches. The organisation has 72 hours from awareness of the breach of personal data to alert the ICO. 
  • The letter of notification. An organisation must inform you if your personal data has been breached without undue delay if the breach presents a risk to your rights and freedoms. They could do this by letter or by email.
  • A copy of your credit report or bank statements if you are claiming for material damage. 
  • Your medical records could help prove any psychological harm you or your child suffered as a result of the breach

Get in touch with an advisor from our team to discuss data protection in schools and what evidence you could submit if your or your child’s personal data has been breached. 

How Much Could I Claim For A School Data Breach?

If you make a successful school data breach claim, then you may receive compensation for material and non-material damage. Non-material damage covers any psychological injuries you’ve suffered because of the breach of your personal data.

Those who value the psychological harm caused by a data breach may consult the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). This document includes compensation guidelines for numerous physical and psychological injuries that may be covered by compensation claims. You can view some of the figures that may be relevant when claiming for a school data breach in the table below. The first entry in the table is not based on the JCG.

Name of InjurySeverityGuideline Bracket for Compensation
Severe Psychological Harm Plus Financial LossesSevereUp to £200,000+
General Psychological injurySevere£66,920 to £141,240
General Psychological injuryModerately severe£23,270 to £66,920
General Psychological injuryModerate£7,150 to £23,270
General Psychological injuryLess severe£1,880 to £7,150
PTSD/Post-traumatic stress disordersSevere£73,050 to £122,850
PTSD/Post-traumatic stress disordersModerately severe£28,250 to £73,050
PTSD/Post-traumatic stress disordersModerate£9,980 to £28,250
PTSD/Post-traumatic stress disordersLess severe£4,820 to £9,980

Material damage could potentially be claimed to cover any financial losses you have suffered because of a data breach in a school. For example, if you’ve suffered psychological harm because of the breach and you took unpaid time off work to recover from this, then those loss of earnings in that period may be covered under material damage.

To claim material damage, you will need to provide certain documents as evidence, such as wage slips, bank statements or invoices.

Contact our advisors for free today if you have any questions about how much you could claim for a data breach in a school.

No Win No Fee Data Breach Solicitors

You may be concerned about the financial risks associated with using data breach solicitors. However, hiring No Win No Fee data breach solicitors, could potentially benefit you.

Under this type of arrangement, you only pay a success fee if they help you win your claim. The success fee you do pay is legally limited as outlined in the Conditional Fee Agreements Order 2013. If you don’t receive compensation, you won’t pay their fees.

Get in touch if you would like to work with our No Win No Fee solicitors. Our advisors are available 24/7 and can check your eligibility free of charge.

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Start Your School Data Breach Claim

Whether you’d like us to offer you a free eligibility check on your case, or you’re ready to talk to a data breach solicitor about your claim, we could help. Our expert advisors can answer your questions and check your eligibility to claim. We could then provide you with a No Win No Fee data breach lawyer who could help you fight for the maximum payout for your claim. To get in touch about a school data breach, all you need to do is:

We hope these examples of data breaches in schools have been helpful, but if you have any more questions, get in touch with our team.

Extra Resources On Education Data Protection Breaches

Extra Resources On Education Data Protection Breaches

In this section of our guide to school data breach claims, we’ve included some extra resources you may find useful.

Data Breach Claim Examples – The ICO has produced some guidance on how to make a data breach claim here, along with giving you examples of what could happen during the process.

School Data Breach Guidance – Unison has produced advice for schools and teachers about data protection. You can find their guide here.

Photographs In Schools – Here, you can find ICO guidance on taking photos in school when it comes to data protection.

Loss Of Personal Data – Can I Make A Claim? – You can learn more about making a claim for data loss here.

UK GDPR Breach Psychological Injury Claims – This guide offers further insight into claiming for psychological injury.

Data Breached As An Employee?– You can learn about claiming against your employer for a data breach here.

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    • Patrick Mallon

      Patrick is a Grade A solicitor having qualified in 2005. He's an an expert in accident at work and public liability claims and is currently our head of the EL/PL department. Get in touch today for free to see how we can help you.

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