How Can Schools Protect Student Privacy?


On educational message boards and forums, student privacy online is a hot subject. Parents and students are taking steps to protect their personal information, and school families are being encouraged to do so. Your child’s information is processed as soon as he or she reaches the nursery.

School documents contain highly confidential material, including personal information. Students’ educational experiences are likely to be influenced by the contents of their student files.

What is Student Data Privacy?

Student data privacy refers to how students’ personally identifiable information is used, collected, treated, and governed. Name, address, student ID, and login information are just a few examples. It also contains the student’s academic, health, and disciplinary records, as well as information that can be used to classify a specific student, such as demographics and date of birth.

The collection and use of student data both within and outside of our schools is on the rise. In the end, regardless of where and how student data is generated, used, or stored, schools are legally and ethically bound to keep student data private.

Why is student privacy important for schools?

If anyone gained unauthorized access to a system (for example, stealing login information or hacking a plan), they could use this information to:

As schools prepare students to learn and apply 21st-century skills, it’s only standard for students and teachers to use more online tools. As a result, student data is being entered into online information and learning management systems. Student privacy is essential because the collection, use, distribution, and handling of student data is subject to legal and ethical restrictions.

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student privacy - girl with laptop
Protecting student privacy
  • Create email scam contact lists or targeted ads
  • Locate family members’ emails and other contact information
  • Change a student’s grades
  • View confidential information that is supposed to be kept private, such as learning and physical disabilities, or even prescription drugs

As a result, maintaining student privacy is critical to prevent problems like these.

Ways for schools to protect student privacy

Reduce the amount of data collected

The most accessible and most critical thing schools can do to protect their students’ information is not collecting it or collecting as little information as possible. One of the most successful methods shown to be is minimalism.

The reasoning is straightforward: the less data you have, the less likely you will lose it. Schools, for example, do not need to obtain social security numbers. Many schools have also stopped accepting social security numbers for identification purposes, but some schools need them from students and parents. Parents are no longer needed to have social security numbers, according to the US Department of Education, because the risk of collecting such information is too great.

Carefully manage data

You should be aware of what information each person or organization has access to. You’ll be able to ensure the data is handled correctly if you treat it correctly. Textbook publishers, for example, do not need student phone numbers or addresses.

It’s critical to synchronize the precise types of data that are needed. Many modern learning management systems need automated bi-directional data sharing, which can help you gain precise control over your exchange data.

Make use of encryption

Even if schools want to limit data collection, they will almost certainly need some information about students and their parents. Consequently, it’s essential to make sure that this data is protected by administrative and technical means. Encryption is a potent tool. We suggest encrypting data while storing it and spreading it around your network. It’s essential to recognize devices that store sensitive information and to encrypt all files and disks.

Hackers have many opportunities in mobile devices like laptops and smartphones, because they often abandon safe school networks. Furthermore, these devices are vulnerable to theft. When sharing files over a network, we suggest that you encrypt files and ensure that the internet link is encrypted. Make sure you’re using a secure email service that uses HTTPS encryption.

Delete student records that are no longer required

If you no longer need students’ information for some reason, you can delete it as soon as possible. Uniform record preservation policies in schools must govern data storage. They must also decide how to hold various long forms of records. For example, schools will wish to keep course-level grades for transcripts indefinitely, but delete student disciplinary records seven years after graduation. Depending on the type of data, retention periods can be longer or shorter.

Many schools, for example, require parents to have certain types of documentation to prove their residency in a specific location. There’s no need to retain those records after they’ve administrators have accepted them.

Schools that make wise decisions will be able to:

  • Continue to follow the legislation and existing legal regulations.
  • Avoid costly fines, damages, and financial losses.
  • Protect themselves, their employees, their parents, and their students from identity theft, fraud, and other forms of damage.
  • Maintain their good name.
  • Save time and storage space.

Monitor activity

We’ve already discussed that you should be aware of who has access to various types of data. You can also monitor users who have access to confidential information.

Schools may use a variety of tracking tools to keep track of any users who have been granted access to sensitive data. It is unlikely that complex control systems will be required; simple improvements to existing software settings are likely to be sufficient. Monitoring software like allows the school to create a digitally secure learning environment for students.

Administrators might look at access logs to see who recently accessed high-profile student’s educational records, for example, if those records are leaked to the media.

Establish contact channels with students, parents, and guardians

Parents must have access to information at some stage, so they must understand what their children and other guardians can access and why. This material is just as conveniently found on school websites as it is in a student’s handbook. In any case, the transparency of what happens to this data must be readily available.

Create a student privacy policy for your data

Data privacy is a never-ending task, so make a plan to evaluate the organization’s data privacy requirements regularly. Make sure the schedule is up to date regularly. First, familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of your organization’s data collection, storage, and sharing processes.

Develop methods to deal with any data generated by the Internet of Things devices, as well. More devices mean more potential targets for cyberattacks. Preventative measures, such as restricting bandwidth access and ensuring that devices are correctly patched and segmented, can help.

student privacy - girl with computer

Update your content filters regularly

Content filters offer real protection against malicious content and data breach threats on websites. For instance, restricting access to:

  • Spam sites that may install malware on school computers.
  • Sites with objectionable content.
  • Sites with violent content or hate sections.
  • Social networking sites which can lower classroom productivity or make online bullying more challenging to prevent.

Content filters are usually built into firewalls, but they may also be installed as hardware or software. Remember that these devices must be modified regularly, as tech-savvy students are capable of inventing new ways to bypass filters at incredible speeds.

Patch management and updating

At all times, school administrators should be aware of what software and hardware is in use on the network. You can ensure that configuration changes are appropriately approved, registered, and executed once you have this information.

It is critical, because updates provide enhanced security patches and protections that the product developers have found. Since non-updated software is exceptionally vulnerable to hacking, you should install any new updates as soon as possible.

FAQ Section:

What is the significance of student confidentiality?

One of the most critical aspects of confidentiality is that it assists in developing and maintaining trust. It can allow for the free exchange of information between the teacher and the student, and it recognizes that a student’s personal life and all of their concerns and problems are their own.

Is it possible for schools to intrude on student privacy?

No school has the authority to violate student privacy because everyone has the right to privacy, including in a school environment. In general, a student’s right to privacy is violated when personal information is disclosed to unauthorized third parties without authorization or when his locker or backpack is searched without his permission.

How will students’ personal details be safeguarded?

Five methods to protect student information :

  • Minimize data collection of student information.
  • Remove any student records that are no longer required.
  • Encrypt data in transit and at rest.
  • The Principle of Least Privilege should be followed.
  • On school networks, keep an eye on what’s going on.


While schools are less likely than companies to hack, student data privacy is critical. Schools collect a great deal of data about their students and ensure that they are used appropriately.

We hope that our straightforward suggestions will help you develop an effective security policy to ensure that your student’s personal information is not used for commercial purposes and is not obtained by unauthorized individuals.

Simple Ways Teachers Can Protect Student Data Privacy

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Researcher educator specializing in mental health, educational innovations, computer-supported collaborative learning, and technology integration.


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