What Are Some Examples Of Data Breaches In Schools And When Could I Claim?

By Harry Cohen. Last Updated 10th July 2024. Schools process the personal data of potentially hundreds, if not thousands of students and parents. A failure to uphold data protection law can result in the data of multiple children, including some potentially very sensitive personal information, being exposed. We’ll examine the data protection laws schools must abide by, and give some examples of the data breaches in schools that can occur if these laws are not met.

You also see the eligibility criteria for making a school data breach claim, as well as the evidence you can use to prove your personal data was exposed due to the school’s failures.

Our final section examines No Win No Fee contract offered by our panel of solicitors, and how you can benefit when making a claim following a data breach in a school  under these terms.

You can also get in contact with a member of our team for free advice regarding your or your child’s potential personal data breach compensation claim. Our advisors are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, to answer any enquiries you may want to make.

To speak to a member of our team, you can: 

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  1. Examples Of Data Breaches In Schools
  2. Who Could Claim For A School Data Breach?
  3. Evidence Supporting Claims For Data Breaches In Schools
  4. Examples Of Data Breach Compensation Payouts
  5. Help Finding No Win No Fee Data Breach Solicitors
  6. Learn More About Examples Of Data Breaches In Schools

Examples Of Data Breaches In Schools 

First, we will define what a personal data breach is using information from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK’s independent body in place to uphold information rights. A personal data breach can be described as a breach of security that leads to either the accidental or unlawful destruction, alteration, loss, or unauthorised disclosure of, or access to, a person’s personal data. 

Below we will provide potential examples of data breaches in schools: 

  • A school staff member sends personal information regarding yourself and your child to the wrong email address.
  • A receptionist at the school failed to use BCC when sending an email to the parents of the students, sharing their email addresses. 
  • A school staff member fails to carry out checks to confirm who they are speaking to on the phone, leading to the verbal disclosure of your child’s personal data to an unauthorised person. 
  • The school does not have any security measures in place to protect its online database. As a result, criminals hack into the database and steal personal data. 

Continue reading this guide to learn when you or your child could be eligible to claim compensation for a data breach involving your personal information. Also, you can contact our team to discuss the viability of your claim. 

Who Could Claim For A School Data Breach? 

The collection and storage of both physical and digital data must be done in line with data protection laws. The UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) lays out rules for data controllers and processors to adhere to when processing a data subject’s personal information.

A data controller has the overall power concerning how and for what purpose your personal information is processed. A controller can employ data processors to process personal data on their behalf. 

If the data controller or processor fails to adhere to data protection laws, this could lead to a personal data breach. If your personal data is compromised due to this breach and, as a result, you or your child suffer from financial or psychological harm, you may be eligible to claim compensation. However, you must also consider whether your claim adheres to the time limits described below.    

Limitation Periods In Which You Could Claim  

To bring forward a personal data breach claim, you will generally have six years to begin legal proceedings. Although, this time will reduce to one year when claiming against a public body.

Talk to one of our advisors today to discuss the eligibility of a potential claim. They can also offer insight into whether the claim is within the applicable time limits. 

Evidence Supporting Claims For Data Breaches In Schools. 

To make a personal data breach claim, you will need to provide evidence of the data controller or processor’s failure to adhere to data protection laws. 

If a personal data breach occurs that places the rights and freedoms of a data subject at risk, the incident must be reported to the ICO, within a time window of 72 hours. Also, they must inform you, as a data subject, without undue delay. From the time you are notified of a school data breach, or if you suspect that a data breach has taken place involving personal information, there are steps you can take. 

Firstly, you should get in contact with the school directly. This correspondence could be used as evidence to support your claim. Next, if the school’s response is unsatisfactory, or they do not respond at all, you could report the incident to the ICO. Although the ICO cannot provide compensation, they may choose to investigate the data breach. If they do this and produce findings that are in your favour, you could provide this as evidence for your claim. 

If you would like to learn more about providing evidence for data breaches in schools to help you understand how you could prove your potential claim, please speak to our advisors.  

Examples Of Data Breach Compensation Payouts 

For successful personal data breach claims, the compensation award could cover up to two different types of damage: material and non-material. Firstly, we will explain that non-material damage is the psychological harm caused by a personal data breach. This can include anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

We have provided the following table with compensation bracket guidelines for different non-material damage. To create the table, we used the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). Data breach solicitors can also use the JCG to help them when valuing compensation awards for non-material damage.   

Guideline Compensation Table

Please be advised that this table is for guidance purposes only.

Type of HarmSeverityGuideline Compensation Brackets
Severe Psychological Harm Plus Financial LossesSevereUp to £200,000+
Psychological Damage (a) Severe£66,920 to £141,240
(b) Moderately Severe£23,270 to £66,920
(c) Moderate£7,150 to £23,270
(d) Less Severe£1,880 to £7,150
PTSD(a) Severe£73,050 to £122,850
(b) Moderately Severe£28,250 to £73,050
(c) Moderate£9,980 to £28,250
(d) Less Severe£4,820 to £9,980

Could You Claim Further Types Of Damage? 

Furthermore, you or your child could also receive an award for material damage, the financial losses incurred as a result of the personal data breach. This may include the following:

  • Loss of earnings
  • Money taken from your bank accounts due to criminal activity
  • Negative effects on your credit score

It is important to note that you will also have to prove these losses. This could involve providing your bank records, proof of your credit history and payslips.

Please contact our team to receive an estimate of the compensation you or your child could be eligible to receive that is tailored to the unique details of the personal data breach claim. 

Help Finding No Win No Fee Data Breach Solicitors  

If you or your child has suffered harm after personal data was involved in a school data breach caused by the data controller failing to adhere to data protection laws, you may be eligible to claim compensation. Should one of our advisors come to the same conclusion after evaluating your case, they could connect you with a No Win No Fee solicitor from our panel.

A No Win No Fee solicitor might offer their services under the terms of a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). This means you will not pay any upfront or ongoing fees for the services your solicitor provides. It also generally means you won’t pay in the event your case is unsuccessful.  

However, a successful claim can mean your solicitor deducts a small percentage of the compensation. The legislation caps this success fee. Therefore, a solicitor cannot overcharge you.   

Contact Us 

Our team are available 24/7. To speak to a member of our team, you can: 

Learn More About Potential Examples Of Data Breaches In Schools 

Explore more of our guides to learn more about making a claim for a personal data breach:

Also, we have provided links below to external sites you may find useful: 

Thank you for taking a look at the potential examples of data breaches in schools we have provided in this guide. To enquire about making a personal data breach claim, speak to our advisors.