In England and Wales, parents are legally entitled to receive a copy of their child's state school record. Bullying UK reports that "Many state school parents find that they are denied access for a variety of reasons, which is unlawful." The school may offer excuses or even ignore the request, but the Department for Children, Schools and Families makes it clear that "state school parents have a legal right to a copy of their child's school record providing they put a request in writing to see it and on payment of photocopying costs."
Contents of recordsEdit
A child's school file should contain copies of reports which have already been sent home, results of classroom tests, and copies of any complaints parents have made together with action taken by the school. Record keeping varies greatly however, and some schools only keep copies of test results and reports while others retain far more information. The only type of bullying schools are legally obliged to maintain a record of is racist bullying, and there is no requirement for them to record name calling or violence.
Parents have a right to a copy of their child's school record if they put a request in writing to see it and on payment of photocopying costs. It is illegal for parents to be told that there are conditions to meet before they get a copy of the record. The school cannot insist that parents attend a meeting to receive it. The record must be supplied within 15 working days.
If the record is inaccurate it must be amended by removing or correcting the inaccurate part. If the school disagrees, the original letter from the parents must be put onto the file and treated as part of the record. In certain circumstances a pupil or his parents can appeal to a court under the Data Protection Act 1998 to have educational records destroyed or amended.
If a child transfers to another school, including an independent school or college, their record must be automatically transferred.
Bullying UK "advises that after parents receive a copy of the file they should write to the head, asking for confirmation that the full content of the record has been sent, and if not, for a list of all documents which have been withheld, and the reason why."
Some information may be legally witheld from release, including:
- teacher's records kept solely for the teacher's personal use
- information that, if disclosed, "would be likely to cause serious harm to the physical, mental or emotional health of the pupil in question, or any other person"
- information that contained disclosures about another pupil
- information relevant to whether the pupil is, or has been, a victim of child abuse or may be at risk of it
- Bullying UK - leading UK charity offering wide range of advice for children and parents