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Student data: can you find it when you need to?

Schools revolve around data and information. Unfortunately this information isn't always well managed, which often means that it can be difficult or impossible to find. What are the challenges facing today's schools around timely access to a schools information?

Think about a typical day in your life. Whether you realise it or not, your life revolves around data and information. You have contacts on your phone, emails on your tablet or laptop, document files and images on your home PC, not to mention filing cabinets, desk drawers and of course the messy top drawer in the kitchen!

Unfortunately, a school office is not always in a better state, which could mean that we don’t know where all the records are stored, or even that they are there.

For example, many teachers might have a hardcopy file for each of their students in addition to the data that is kept on your Student Management System, and the hardcopy student file kept in the office.

Those are just the files we remember. Do not forget the emails about the students in the teacher’s inbox, as well as the department head inbox or even the principal’s inbox. Then there might be a guidance officer who holds another hardcopy as well as an electronic file.

We are just getting started. There will be administrative records that may provide context to records held in the student’s file (perhaps details of things like excursions or camps where an incident may have occurred, or curriculum and testing information.)

This is not an atypical example. It demonstrates how data intersects while further reiterating the importance of maintaining accurate records that can be easily retrieved when required.

Information held separately
A survey of secondary schools in Queensland conducted in 2016 indicated that an average of six separate files were held for each student. It was further identified that each file was maintained and managed by different staff and, in most circumstances, they were unaware that the other records existed.

Under Right to Information legislation, individuals are legally allowed to request all of their data from any organisation that holds it. When information is being kept all over the place, and often with no reference to each other, it makes it difficult to retrieve it quickly or efficiently.

Students regularly require their school records when pursuing career options or travelling overseas. In these instances, the information can be vital to a person’s future, yet less than 40 per cent of requests are fulfilled.

By: Anne Cornish, CEO and Owner of Records Solutions
Anne has over 35 years’ experience in data and records’ management specialising in the government and education sector. Like most other industries, information management has undergone a significant change in recent years. There are new and unique challenges associated with digitisation and moving to the Cloud. Anne has been instrumental in leading schools through this transition and navigating current trends.

She has worked on projects that include:

  • statewide implementation of an eDRMS, electronic document and records management system for all offices and schools in Queensland

  • school archiving and disposal projects in both NSW and Victoria

  • capture and digitisation of records in large independent schools in Queensland.

Anne represented Australia in developing International Information Standards (ISO 15489) and continuously lobbies to promote the importance of records’ management in all schools

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