Alastair Storey

Assistant Head Teacher

Ridgeway Academy Primary School is an exciting and thriving primary school at the heart of a vibrant community in South Shields. We are passionate about learning and helping children develop their skills and knowledge so that they can be the best that they can be.

We are a proud member of the Tyne Coast Academy Trust, as the first school to join in 2013. Since then, as more schools have joined and the trust has grown stronger, Ridgeway has also gone from strength to strength, achieving a rating of ‘Good’ from Ofsted in 2016. Driven by the best writing progress in the country, we have more than doubled in size and continue to welcome children to the community.

Founded: Open since the 1930’s, and became an Academy 6-7 years ago
How many pupils do you have? 450

 

The Challenge

What challenges were you and your team experiencing prior to working with us – what prompted you to seek a solution? I became the Ridgeway Academy Data Protection Officer for our school approximately 3-4 years ago but hadn’t received any formal training and didn’t have anyone within the school to rely on for support in that area.  I’d researched information here and there on my own so was working with limited GDPR training. As part of the Tyne Coast Academy Trust, each school has a Data Protection representative, and we were all advised by the Trust we would be engaging with an outsourced Data Protection solution.

How did you go about searching for the solution and services? There was a trust-level tender exercise to engage with expertise within Data Protection. I believe another school had already heard of Evalian and so think there was a mixed approach of Google searching and recommendations for solution providers.

Please describe the reasons you decided to work with us. The overall offer was the main reason, having that all-encompassing GDPR service, where we have a named contact to reach out to when we need it, and the initial calls that were had with the Evalian team seemed the right fit for what we were looking for.

Did you have any expectations going into the process? After having some previous training in GDPR, I felt we were doing things correctly but I knew it would be beneficial to have the expertise to support and confirm what we were doing was right.

Our Evalian consultant Neil is great, I can’t speak highly enough of the support he’s given. He is extremely knowledgeable but relaxed, which is what you need, rather than someone to come in and tell us everything that is potentially wrong. Understanding Data Protection can be very daunting, but having a contact like Neil and the work he does with us makes it very much a two-way process, he always checks we understand everything and that he knows exactly what we need.

Solution

Can you describe the process we took your business through? The initial phase of discovery calls was informative, Neil explained everything to us in easy-to-digest terms, and we weren’t drowning in jargon. Evalian validated my learning, talked through the systems, and confirmed we were implementing the right things in school in terms of data. Neil made suggestions on how to streamline our processes and worked with the Trust to put in place certain policies.

We’re a couple of years on in our engagement, and Evalian now works with us more on an ad hoc basis.  Following the initial work with Evalian, we’re confident we have all the processes and procedures in place but know we can contact our consultant for any issues that may arise where we feel we need more guidance. We’re free to manage our own processes but have support over email or phone from Neil or the wider team whenever we need it.

Evalian is good at checking in, for example, this term I’ve needed a bit more support, whereas, during the spring and summer terms, we didn’t need so much, but Neil always checked in with us to ensure we were doing ok.

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Were there any challenges you found along the way and how did you feel we or your consultant, helped to support you through that? Any breach that we’ve experienced so far has been minor. Neil has been there to support and the process has been smooth. There’s nothing we feel that has been a problem and nothing we can’t tackle successfully with Evalian’s support.

If there is a potential threat to our data, we are confident we have solid processes in place.  I know I can get in touch with our consultant and they can support us with the correct legal procedures to follow.  

What changes did you make as a result of working with us? All staff use the online GDPR training provided by Evalian. Last year we implemented training with all staff in school and we continue to make sure we prioritise GDPR training for new colleagues and as part of refresher training. This has been really useful from a leadership point of view, knowing that all staff have undertaken the awareness training, and everyone knows how to keep our data as secure as possible.

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Impact

What has been the most significant achievement of the school facilitated by using our services? There are now robust processes, procedures and policies in place that we use regularly, which has then informed further tools like our new assessment system. We are confident knowing we have the correct paperwork in place and have peace of mind as a leadership team and wider school that we have the right support in place and our data is as secure as possible.

What impact has the results from working with us had on your clients/stakeholders? As the Data Protection representative, I get asked a lot of questions like “Can I share this information?” – I personally feel like I can now answer these types of queries confidently and if I’m not sure, I have the expertise in Neil at the end of the phone who will be able to give me the advice and guidance I need to go back to someone with a definitive answer. It gives the Trust, the staff and everyone connected with the school, the assurance that we do everything correctly and their data are safe which is invaluable.

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If you’ve had a data breach, are confused about DPOs, or would like to discuss penetration testing or cyber incident response training, please give us a call or email us. We promise no hard sell and only real-world guidance.

We love to talk privacy and security and we’d be delighted to discuss your requirements. If we can’t help for any reason, we’ll probably know someone who can.

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