We’ve been offering outsourced DPO as a service since 2018, focussing on the schools sector in the UK.  Schools, academies and colleges have to appoint a “suitably experienced and/or qualified” person to undertake the Data Protection Officer role, as they are public bodies processing substantial amounts of personal data. The problem is, for most schools this is unrealistic and unaffordable – as well as being an additional pressure that can distract leadership attention away from the core business of teaching and learning.

When GDPR was introduced back in 2018, we were disappointed to see the price of outsourced DPO as a service offerings from local authorities as well as their narrow, compliance-focussed nature. That’s why we decided to be different and provide a service that was low cost but also added additional value to schools.

We’ve now helped over 30 schools come to grips with their data protection obligations. This includes setting up their Record of Processing Activity and embedding the concept of privacy by design – as well as creating those all-important Data Protection Impact Assessments. Our clients range from one form entry primary schools to 2000 pupil secondary academies. They include standalone schools, federations and multi-academy trusts. Whatever the governance model, we’ve got experience of it.

So how are we different?

What makes our approach different is our strong belief that this isn’t only about compliance. Schools should be able to get some real, tangible benefits from investing in this work, over and above being able to demonstrate a culture of protecting people’s privacy.

That’s why our team comprises not only data protection experts but also experienced school business managers. We take the time to understand how you operate so that we can look at your working practices and systems as well as the information you gather, use and share. Our recommendations are designed to help you protect personal data and comply with the GDPR but more than that, to introduce more efficient ways of working, remove unnecessary processes and duplication of effort. If our suggestions don’t save you more money than our fee, we’d be disappointed!

For the last week we’ve been on-site with some of our latest clients. This is an important part of our service: getting to know the schools and staff, understanding how they work. And it’s something we’ve missed being able to do over the last year as COVID restrictions have limited our ability to visit. It’s great to be back!

Of course, we can also offer standalone school business management services too – ranging from finance support, procurement and income generation through to mentoring and interim support.

And then there’s our consulting practice – we offer CIO advisory services, providing trusted strategic and operational advice, programme and project management as well as service design and “right sourcing” – helping our clients choose the optimum mix of suppliers and solutions to deliver high quality services.

It’s fantastic being able to support all our clients, and we look forward to continuing our growth and building new partnerships.