School records are often a source of invaluable help for historical and genealogical research.
However, keeping all of them indefinitely would cause a major storage problem. In any event, access to individual pupil records is protected by the Data Protection Act, so not all school records are available to the public. To help schools decide what to keep, how long to keep it and who can access what information under the Freedom of Information Act, we have provided guidance, along with the Department for Education.
Processing of data about individuals
We use information about children to help us carry out specific functions; for example, an assessment of special educational needs. The information also helps us make decisions, such as on the funding of schools, and to assess the performance of schools and set targets. We will use information about the school workforce for research and policy purposes and may use it to support and monitor schools regarding sickness and staff recruitment.
Primary care trusts use information about pupils to monitor, evaluate and develop health services. Height and weight information of individual pupils may be provided to the child and its parents, so PCTs will maintain details of pupils' names for this purpose. PCTs may also provide schools and local authorities with aggregate information on pupils' height and weight.
The statistics are always used in such a way that individuals cannot be identified.
Youth support services
For pupils aged 13 and over, the school is legally required to pass on certain information to us, as the provider of youth support services. The school must provide the name, address and date of birth of the pupil, the name and address of their parents and any other information relevant to the support services' role. Until pupils are aged 16, their parent(s) can ask that no information beyond their children's name, address and date of birth (and their name and address) be passed to the youth support services. This right transfers to the pupil on their 16th birthday.
For more information on how we process personal information, see our open data, information sharing and data protection page.
Frequently asked questions
Requests for specific information should be made to the appropriate school, which will advise whether it holds the records and, if not, whether they have been transferred to the county record office or destroyed.
The county record office is based in Northallerton and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01609 777585.
Below are examples of how long schools are recommended to retain records.
- School log books: six years from date of the last entry.
- Admissions registers: six years from date of the last entry.
- Individual pupil records: the pupil's date of birth plus 25 years.
- Class registers: date of register plus three years.
When the retention period is reached schools have to decide whether they want to continue to hold such records. Often they have presentations and open days that use old photographs and other records that have played an important part in the school's life.
If a school no longer wishes to retain records, they generally offer them to the county record office. The archivist will decide whether the records are of sufficient historical or cultural value to warrant further retention.