With document retention periods ranging from days to years, document-management specialists Arena Group are working to save schools from storage and retrieval problems. The company’s mstore software, an electronic document and records management system (EDRMS), helps school staff to stick to requirements from the Data Protection Act 1998, which state that schools should not keep records for any longer than necessary.

How are cloud-based technologies being used in the US education system? Edtech expert Anthony VonBank discusses the opportunities afforded to American schools, and the pros and cons of each.

[As seen in the February 2014 edition of our magazine]

It’s not hard to see why cloud-based productivity tools are a hit with educators and students. With a minimum of setup time, teachers can share documents from a variety of formats, allow them to manipulate the documents in real time, and make copies for their own records. Students can work collaboratively on documents and presentations, create surveys and operate spreadsheets from different computers, anywhere in the world, in live time.

Information stored by schools has a fairly fixed working life - but relevant data may be required to be held for a considerable period after a particular student has left the school. This can be for all sorts of purposes, including confirmation of attainment and a whole host of legal matters. Obviously, this means that there is a considerable storage burden which is borne by the final school which a given student has attended – a burden which may persist for many years, in some cases until the former student has reached 30 years of age.

What the law says

Two key pieces of legislation come into play with regard to the long term retention of student files (and any other information generated by the school).

The Information and Records Management Society (IRMS) curates a regularly updated “Records Management Toolkit” written specifically to assist UK public sector schools in their compliance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000. In a series of articles, Arena Group’s Neil Maude looks at the practical application of the principles described in this toolkit, using his 20+ years of experience in the provision of document management solutions within and outside of the education sector.

Is there really a need?

Before we get into the detail of records management and the practical elements of implementing a policy, there is a fairly obvious first question to ask. Most schools have been around for a while – some for a very long while – and already have processes in place to manage documents in line with legislation and sector best practice. So is there really a need to change?

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