The importance of record keeping
An increasing number of documents are now being received electronically, therefore the way information is being stored and kept is changing.
However, it is still important that academy trusts follow a good practice of retaining documents for the appropriate length of time, including information relating to the following:
- Records about the history of the school/academy (if applicable, including the 'school history' from prior to the conversion to an academy). This includes details such as school registers, log books and inspection reports, more details can be found on the national archives website.
The ESFA is entitled to request any information it feels it needs to ensure the academy meets the funding requirements. It is therefore important that this information is easily accessible and available on request.
Closure of an academy or trust
When an academy leaves a trust or when a trust closes, the following must be considered:
Pupil and safeguarding records should be transferred to the new academy or trust. If a pupil has reached the end of their education then the records should be transferred to the relevant local authority (LA) pertinent to the academy the student attended rather than the LA of the trust.
Building records should be retained by the LA of the area in which the trust's head office is located.
Staff records should be transferred under the TUPE regulations for those continuing their employment with a new trust. For staff who are terminating their employment, records are to be retained by the LA in which the trust's head office is located. This information should only be kept by the closing academy/trust providing there is a justifiable reason, otherwise the information should be destroyed after transferring.
On trust closures, the finance records still need to be retained in line with HMRC requirements as stipulated below.
- Governance and school history records should be offered to the individual academy’s LA archive service or record office.
Accessing information transferred to LA
Information can be accessed as follows:
- those with parental responsibilities have the right to view pupils’ education records
- Staff - staff members have the right to view their personal data.
How to dispose of records
When records have reached their retention period (which is six years as specified by HMRC), data must be disposed of securely and confidentially. All records containing personal or sensitive policy information must be made either unreadable or unable to be reconstructed. They should not be disposed of through regular waste or a skip and where this is done by an external contractor it is recommended that the records are destroyed on site in the presence of an employee.
If records are not kept, or are destroyed before six years, then HMRC can impose a fine of up to £3,000.
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