Busting the myth around GDPR and pictures of pupils

Do schools have to have consent for every single time they want to publish a picture of a pupil? No, says this lawyer and data expert

Kate Parker

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The new rules on data protection are just weeks away from coming into force, and perplexity continues to reign.

A flurry of activity on social media highlighted the confusion about the GDPR rules on consent to publish pictures of pupils.

It was suggested that for each time a school wanted to publish a picture of a pupil, whether it be in a special assembly, on sports day or on a school trip, teachers would have to get consent from parents.

But, this isn’t so.

Dai Durbridge, a partner at Browne Jacobson, says that there’s a lot of misinformation about consent over the use of pupils photos, and that schools need to take the common sense approach.

“GDPR says there needs to clarity and accountability, so all you need to do, if you are relying on consent, is say that we would like to use your photos and then give two, three, four, five options depending on what you do.

“So we would like to use your photo for 1: Use in and around school, in places that might be seen by visitors, 2: on the school website, 3: on social media, 4: in wider marketing materials used by the school. You get that consent once, and as long as you make it clear to the individual that provides that consent that they can withdraw that consent at any time, that’s all you need to do.

“You don’t need to get consent for every photo, you do not need to renew that consent stands, there’s a lot of misinformation.”

So if your consent form already includes those boxes, there’s nothing else you need to do?

No, says Durbridge. “If you’re already having that level of clarity and honesty in your consent forms, GDPR requires nothing from you.”

If your school asks for ‘global photo consent’, then you will need to make some changes to the form you currently use.

School business manager Hilary Goldsmith says that as well as updating the forms, her school will be annually reviewing ‘consent’ to ensure that parents and pupils have the right to opt out if they no longer want to be included.

“We're going to have to change our permission forms to include those specifics, and re-get permission for existing students going forward under the new rules, says Goldsmith. ‘We have an online portal, where parents can log in and see their child's homework, attendance, book parents evening etc. They can also see and grant permissions here, so we'll put the permissions on there for them to opt in and out of, with an annual email reminder to parents to review them.”

For more information on GDPR, visit the Tes School Portal

If you’re registered on School Portal: Click login in the top right-hand corner of this page and click on the My schools button and visit the Advice centre

Problems logging in? If your school is registered for School Portal but you can’t see the My schools button, contact your school admin for access.

If your school is not registered for School Portal: Request Portal access here

For full and up-to-date guidance on the GDPR, visit the ICO website

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a FE reporter.

Find me on Twitter @KateeParker

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