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Schools sending personal data to ParentMail - no consent

(25 Posts)
Kerchoff Fri 03-Feb-17 10:43:35


There are a number of reasons why a parent might not want their personal telephone details passed on to a commercial third party before those parents have even indicated they want - or even know about - that service.

One reason is that of lack of consent, or the absence of any reasonable expectation that this may occur, which is likely to be unlawful.

I recently received a text message from Parentmail where they could only have obtained my number from my new school. No consent has ever been given for this, nor has the school indicated I should expect my data to be processed in that manner.

Parents cannot be compelled to use ParentMail, and it's clear that very many choose not to have their phone clogged-up with often irrelevant school messages.

I wonder if anyone has any thoughts? I do have a pending ICO referral, because the school should have first sought consent before passing the data on.

GoofyIsACow Fri 03-Feb-17 10:45:14

Is parentmail a 3rd party or is it just a means of the school contacting you? Like an app controlled by the school?

titchy Fri 03-Feb-17 10:58:53

Is the text from Parentmail themselves (what on earth does it say?!) or from the school and sent using the parentmail system?

titchy Fri 03-Feb-17 11:00:36

If it's from the school then parentmail as a company does not have your phone number - the school does, any more than Googlemail has my non-gmail email address.

aginghippy Fri 03-Feb-17 11:01:57

My dc school uses Parentmail. I thought it was a brand of software that schools use.

Have you asked the school where the data is held? What did they say?

Kerchoff Fri 03-Feb-17 11:02:36

The 'sent from' number and content of the text message makes no mention of a school, and without further information, it simply appears to have come from Parentmail as a company, not the school.

So, a reasonable person receiving that text can only really conclude it's not the school sending it. That's all I can say.

TheClacksAreDown Fri 03-Feb-17 11:04:16

Have you actually spoken to the school about this?

Whatthefreakinwhatnow Fri 03-Feb-17 11:05:57

confused I thought Parentmail was just three software that schools use? Surely the text is from them. DD1 school often text but they don't end them with the schools name, I just know that it is them?!

Kerchoff Fri 03-Feb-17 11:07:54

Paentmail's own website says:

"We take pupil and parent contact data straight from your MIS system—so you’re up and running in minutes."

So, even if the school then operates standalone software from their school, there seems to clearly be a point where the data is transferred and so, even if temporarily, held both by them and Parentmail. Whether or not there is any cloud hosting, backing up and so on is another matter.

aginghippy Fri 03-Feb-17 11:12:13

You haven't actually asked the school, then? You have gone straight to the ICO?

Kerchoff Fri 03-Feb-17 11:12:20

[quote] I just know that it is them?! [/quote]

Yes, I understand that. But do you know where the data - your phone number - is being held? By the school? The software provider? Both?

Ultimately, it's a good question, though, not least because I'm not expected to know - nor can I - exactly how the school goes about its daily work, or whether or not it uses software or bulk transfer to a third party.

A few words about data security in the prospectus may be all that's needed to clear things up. But there aren't any.

Kerchoff Fri 03-Feb-17 11:15:08

[quote]You haven't actually asked the school, then? You have gone straight to the ICO?[/quoite]

Perhaps schools in your area are sensible and accept parents have occasional legitimate concerns, even if all is well. Here, you might expect to be made into an enemy and, worse, your kids might fall out of favour.

In the end, I don't think these things should have to be dealt with by parents asking - the DPA has been in place for 19 years, and the schools should make it clear how it goes about things.

aginghippy Fri 03-Feb-17 11:18:11

Are you saying that you have not asked the school because you are afraid they will victimise your child if you do?

Lilly948204 Fri 03-Feb-17 11:24:27

You actually sound a little crazy. The only function of parentmail is for the school to communicate effectively and quickly with you. They aren't interested in selling your details, or spamming you etc.

If you don't want to sign up to it, then don't. It would be a completely ridiculous process and a total waste of time for the school to write to every single parent and say do you want parentmail access, and then for someone to have to selectively send out that access to certain parents only from thousands of different students. Therefore the a quick text to everyone asking if they want to sign up is a much more sensible solution.

Also do you realise that your address, phone numbers, email address etc are all easily accessible to all teaching staff, which will probably be hundreds in a normal sized secondary. If they were so inclined they could put that data into any number of websites ( they won't because they aren't crazy) but I'm just trying to point out how ridiculous your attitude is.

Kerchoff Fri 03-Feb-17 11:27:20

It would be a concern, certainly. Persecution of parents asking out of the ordinary questions has led to a series of false accusations that took me two years to discredit in the past. That was just for asking how provision for able pupils was made. You get no points from schools for taking a reasonable interest in your kids.

Kerchoff Fri 03-Feb-17 11:30:05

{!}You actually sound a little crazy.

Ah! The abusive normality of anonymous posters.

Why waste your time answering, then? And in any case, you have a stupid response. Teachers cannot access pupil data lawfully without a proper reason. I'm sure you're right it happens on a daily basis. But that doesn't mean it's lawful. Cases of coppers looking up girlfriends' details on the police computer in days gone by, spring to mind...

FuckOffDailyMailQuitQuotingMN Fri 03-Feb-17 11:30:32

We've been on a similar platform for many years. It hasn't caused any concern at all. I am glad that the school communication system has been simplified.

Do you know exactly what the risks are? You can opt out if you don't want to receive texts or emails.

ofudginghell Fri 03-Feb-17 11:36:39

I have a ParentMail app on my phone which I find very useful for making payments checking in and receiving info sometimes relevant and sometimes not to my child etc.
Is this the system you are talking about?
When I had all the forms for my dc joining the school I also had letters and forms for the ParentMail system which had terms and conditions etc on and I still signed it as it is a good way of parents keeping in touch with school as letters often get lost or don't come home etc etc.
Is your concern about a third party holding your personal phone details?
Do you have a mobile?most mobile phone companies sell details onto others for marketing purposes along with a lot of other signed up for things

Kerchoff Fri 03-Feb-17 11:40:55


Thanks for understanding the original post!

I don't question anything about the Parentmail software, or how useful or not it is to any given parent.

The point is that schools often pressurise parents because they want to reduce paper bills. That's all fine and dandy, but it isn't compulsory to sign up - and unlike your, seemingly very good example, nobody has offered us forms about Parentmail. I just received a text.

Yes, data gets passed around a lot. But, without consent, it is often not lawful.

I'll leave it there.

FuckOffDailyMailQuitQuotingMN Fri 03-Feb-17 11:44:29

We had to sign consent forms for our parent communication system.

Floggingmolly Fri 03-Feb-17 11:48:14

The school have your phone number and email address. Surely Parentmail is just a method of communication? What in God's name are you worrying about?

Lilly948204 Fri 03-Feb-17 11:59:40

Personally I would be more concerned about the supply teachers who go in for a couple of hours and also have access to all your personal data. Or the contract cleaners who go into a classroom where SIMS has been accidentally left open after the last lesson. They also can get hold of all this data too.

greathat Fri 03-Feb-17 12:01:48

All your kids data will be put on SIMS too, at least I've never heard of a school that doesn't use it. Or do you expect everything to just be kept on paper?

titchy Fri 03-Feb-17 12:07:12

Parentmail does NOT have your data hmm

The school has bought the Parentmail software, which will sit on their (the school's) servers, and the school has input your mobile number into the software.

Parentmail and other such systems have been around for years and are used by most schools in the UK.

It is true however that as your mobile phone number is being stored electronically there should have been a Data Protection notice attached to it, but I'm betting my bottom dollar that when you filled in the form with your child's details, emergency contacts, address etc there was a little footnote that read 'For the purposes of the DPA this data will be stored electronically'.

Peanutbutterrules Fri 03-Feb-17 12:15:21

Titchy has it right.

It really seems you are looking for a fight OP. School has to send out messages to all parents - they really don't have the time to sift through and sort out which are relevant to each person (or more accurately which the parents feel are relevant).

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