Despite the recent shift to electronic record-keeping systems, the amount of paperwork required to be kept on-site by schools is greater than ever. Schools keep confidential records on a wide range of topics, from student behavioural files to staff payroll information. Many schools make do with a set of binders sitting in the principal's office, but as legislative provisions and Department of Education policies mandate everstricter security requirements, this may no longer be sufficient.
A data protection safe, or secure document cabinet, is an inexpensive and efficient way to maintain the security of important documents. Here are three reasons why your school should invest in one.
Keeping your school's records in a data protection safe means that access to files can be restricted to only those staff who require it as part of their job. Without protections, other people may gain access. Cleaners, for example, may have unrestricted access to the office after hours, and older students who find themselves in the principal's office for disciplinary reasons may be left alone on occasion.
Consider personnel files, for example. These are sensitive documents that could cause considerable damage to the individuals concerned if placed into the wrong hands. Although keeping these files in locked room, such as the principal's office, is a good first step, there is still a risk that these documents could fall victim to prying eyes. Keeping paper-based records in a data protection safe means that nobody can access the files without a key or passcode.
Schools are subject to a multiplicity of state and federal legislation on a variety of topics, and recordkeeping is no exception.
Schools are subject to the Privacy Act 1988 and are required to take reasonable steps to maintain the security of the personal information they collect. This may include student records, staff personnel files, and financial information collected from parents. Fines may apply to both the school and the individual for non-compliance.
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner recommends that paper files are appropriately secured when not in use, and even goes so far as to suggest that failing to have measures in place to prevent break-ins may be a breach of the Act. Therefore, a data protection safe is an investment worth considering to ensure your school does not fall foul of the law.
Like any other organisation, schools are vulnerable to natural disasters and other events that may cause the destruction of paper records.
Bush fires, for example, are a feature of the Australian natural environment. Around 150 schools are currently listed on the Department of Education's Bushfire Zone Register, meaning they are at a high degree of risk when the statewide fire danger rating is high. In addition, virtually all schools are vulnerable to man-made causes of destruction, such as arson.
Imagine if all of your school's records were destroyed due to a fire or other disaster event. How would you pay your staff, and what would this mean for your students' education?Many data protection safes are now fire- and heat-resistant, meaning they have been built to withstand the scorching temperatures that result from flames. By investing in a fire-proof secure document cabinet, your school will be able to bounce back from any kind of disaster.
Records management is probably the last thing on any principal or school administrator's mind. However, keeping your records safe is not only a school's legal responsibility, but also crucial for ensuring its smooth operation. Although those binders on your bookshelf may have served you well over the years, you never know when prying eyes or disasters might strike. Get in touch with the Askwith Company today for a quote on a new data protection safe.