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MIS Systems Thread, Parental contact details - any legal obligation to inform the school of changes? in Technical; Are parents legally obliged to keep the school informed of up-to-date contact details such that the school can contact them ...
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    Parental contact details - any legal obligation to inform the school of changes?

    Are parents legally obliged to keep the school informed of up-to-date contact details such that the school can contact them generally and especially in an emergency?

    I know it's a good, sensible idea for them to do so, but in a couple of cases it really isn't happening despite chasing and use of the carrot.

    We're legally obliged to retain valid contact info - are they obliged to provide it?

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    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    We have a sternish letter pointing out that, in the event that contact details held by the school are not kept up to date, we take will accept no responsibility for any problems caused should we be unable to contact the family in an emergency.

    I suspect we would be regarded as failing under Safeguarding if we didn't do everything possible to get contact details... however we cannot force the parents to comply I think.

    This is not the case in our Pre-School (age 3 months until school age) where staff will not let parents leave the child until a contact form has been completed. I have seen a few parents with their biros out in the entrance hall and the pre-school co-ordinator in attendance!

    It's harder with children of statutory school age, they're older and the parents often don't come to the school gate.

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    GREED's Avatar
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    I think a 'what if little jonny fell over' might do the job...

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    bossman's Avatar
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    Yes it is a legal requirement of parents to inform the school of any changes to their circumstances but as ever nothing is in place to force the parents to follow this requirement as some parents do not have the ability to read or write and they do not see the importance of this regarding their priorities.

    We send a letter out stating that we have information which has been submitted by them to us regarding their sons/daughters and that this to the best of our knowledge is the latest and correct details which they as parents have provided. To which any details which turn out to be incorrect for whatever reasons is purely the fault of the parents and the school cannot and will not be held responsible.

    We also state that if parents want advice and help regarding any forms that if they were to come into the school we would treat with the strictest of confidence (which is always the case) and help them resolve any issues that they may have.

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    This issue was a real headache when we first provisioned SLG in September 2008. We had many parents who did not return their data check sheet at the time. And it was sent out in different ways - both by post and by the pupils themselves. The data check sheet was accompanied by a letter explaining the consequences of errors in our Contacts due to non-return of said datacheck sheet.

    At least one letter that I sent re. SLG User Names went to the wrong address due a house move that we knew nothing about. Fortunately we discovered this quite quickly and, thankfully, there was no issue with the particular parent. We did have a record of how many times we had contacted this parent - including a phone call that also failed to illicit the correct information (they were too busy to discuss on the phone - and they 'would' return the data check sheet!)

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    vikpaw's Avatar
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    I think there is a built in Parental contact details update form. It's not great so i spent about a month redesigning my own last year. or was it the year before :S
    Anyway, mine relies on sub reports to pull through all primary and secondary contacts including emails and other things. The primary purpose of this was to get up to date info from parents to populate schoolcomms, also asking for them to choose a 'main' email from the many they may have submitted.

    This is now an annual task though we haven't done it yet this year due to other issues, i hope it runs okay on office 2010!

    Form tutors keep track of who returns the form, and worst case you can present them at parents evening and ask them to update, sometimes it's better that way, so they can be directed a little. We used to send just blank forms with the idea that they fill in updated detail, as showing them our data just makes them assume it's okay when minor changes have occured. I'll try and post an example if it helps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    I think there is a built in Parental contact details update form. It's not great so i spent about a month redesigning my own last year. or was it the year before :S
    I know - I found your report def on SupportNet the other day and it solved something else I was working on, so cheers for that.

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    vikpaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    I know - I found your report def on SupportNet the other day and it solved something else I was working on, so cheers for that.
    That's like major awesomeness, i didn't think that would ever be used by anyone else. It's the one that has 4 subqueries right?
    Attaching sample output.

    EDIT: I printed them 4 to a sheet by year group. only needed minor mods after generation to kill space for when an address is massive, and the last page needs deleting on each run. It takes a while to run but worked for us, glad it still works, so will plan that for after the mini break here.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by vikpaw; 10th November 2010 at 10:01 AM. Reason: addition

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    bossman,

    <I have no legal training and am not putting forward a legal opinion, or representing any views other than my own>

    I'm interested in your assertion that parents are legally obliged to provide schools with changes of circumstance. I can't quite see how this works. A school, being a data custodian, is definitely under a legal obligation to do all in their power to make sure data held on students is correct which is why they must issue a data sheet annually; but other than those elements of data covering a school admission policy such as address at the time of application, I'm not sure where the law comes into keeping pupil data up to date from the parent/guardian point of view. Much data collected by schools is required to demonstrate a schools compliance with regulation but that regulation does not extend to the data provider or data subject - there is a clear moral and practical case for parents to inform schools of change of mobile phone numbers etc, but I'm not convinced that this is a legal duty.

    Can you comment on where your certainty comes from ? I'm sure there must be some dusty alcove of data protection law I've never read up on.

    Thanks,

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    EdWhittaker's Avatar
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    As a teacher, I know I've had parents who have refused to give daytime phone numbers because (quote) "I don't want to be bothered at work" (!) There is little you can do in the face of an attitude like that.

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