Access to pupil records

Parents' requests to see or have copies of their child's educational record

The governing body is responsible for a pupil's educational record being made available for their parent to see, free of charge, within15 school days of receipt of the parent's written request. If a parent makes a written request for a copy of the record this must be provided to them, also within 15 school days of that request being received. The governing body can charge a fee for the copy, but if they do this it must not be more than the cost of supply. The educational record will include the curricular record but also other information about the pupil that may be kept by the school, such as details of behaviour and family background.

Material in a pupil's educational record exempt from disclosure to parents

When schools comply with a request to see or have a copy of a pupil's educational record under the Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005 there is some information that must not be disclosed. This is any information that the child him/herself could not lawfully be given under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA 1998) or to which s/he would have no right of access under that Act or by virtue of any order made under section 30(2) or section 38(1) of the Act. The following information must not be disclosed:

  • Information, the disclosure of which would be likely to cause serious harm to the physical or mental health or condition of the child or someone else
  • Information as to whether the child is or has been subject to or may be at risk of child abuse, where the disclosure of that information would not be in the best interests of the child
  • References supplied to potential employers of the child, any national body concerned with student admissions, another school, an institution of further or higher education, or any other place of education and training
  • Information supplied by the school in a report to any juvenile court, where the rules of that court provide that the information or part of it may be withheld from the child
  • Information concerning the child which also relates to another person who can be identified from that information or which identifies another person as the source of that information. Unless the person has consented to the disclosure, or it is reasonable in all the circumstances to disclose the information without his/her consent or the person is an employee of the LA or of the school. (This exemption does not apply where it is possible to edit the information requested so as to omit the name or any other identifying particulars of that other person)
  • Information recorded by the pupil during an examination
Requests by pupils to see their educational record under The Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998

Both manual and computerised personal information held by schools are subject to the DPA 1998. Under the Act pupils who submit written requests to see or have copies of their records must be allowed to do so within 40 days, unless it is obvious they do not understand what they are asking for.

When schools receive requests from pupils for disclosure of educational records under the DPA 1998, they must not disclose any information which is prohibited from disclosure under that Act. Queries relating to charging for copies made for pupils or whether to what extent pupils should be allowed to access their records should be addressed to the Information Commissioner's Office.

Transferring the curricular record when a pupil is under consideration for admission to another educational establishment

When a pupil is being considered for a place at another school or institution of further or higher education, should the governing body be asked by the responsible person at that institution for a pupil's curricular record, it must be provided, free of charge, within 15 school days of the request being received. The record sent must not include results of any assessments of the pupil's achievements.

Transferring a pupil's educational record when s/he moves to a new school

When a pupil ceases to be registered at one school and becomes registered at another (either maintained or independent) in England, the governing body of the old school is responsible for transferring their educational record to the new school. This must be done no later than15 school days after the day when the pupil ceases to be registered at the old school.

When a school doesn't know a pupil's new school

The duty to transfer a pupil's record doesn't apply where the old school doesn't know the new school and it is not reasonably practicable for them to find it out. What is reasonably practicable will depend on circumstances, but schools might be expected to telephone and write to a pupil's parents. Where neither of these approaches is successful, and it would involve disproportionate effort to discover a pupil's new school by other means, the school will be justified in deciding it is not reasonably practicable to fulfil the requirement.

When a school receives a request for a pupil's educational record from a school to which s/he has transferred

If the pupil's old school receives a request for their educational record (which they still hold) from the head teacher of an independent school or the governing body of a maintained school, the governing body must ensure it is provided within15 school days of the request being received.