'Lessons to be learned' after SEND data breach at high school

Dave Lee-Allan, headteacher of Stowmarket High School and chairman of Suffolk Association of Seconda

Dave Lee-Allan, headteacher of Stowmarket High School and chairman of Suffolk Association of Secondary Heads Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

A Suffolk school is carrying out a full security review after a data breach meant that personal information of 200 SEND students was accessed by a parent. 

Dave Lee-Allen, headteacher at Stowmarket High School, has written to parents to apologise for the incident and has thanked families for their understanding, after the data breach.

In a letter last week to all parents of the 855 children that attend the school in Onehouse Road, he wrote: "Rest assured lessons are to be learned and full security review is taking place." 

The data breach occurred after a member of staff mistakenly stored personal information from 200 SEND (Special Education Needs and/or Disabilities) pupils on a Sharepoint page which was initially set up for use when pupils were learning from home.

Mr Lee-Allen said the school's Sharepoint pages were accessible to anyone with a Stowmarket High email address. However, he had been assured by the parent who accessed the documents that they did not open them or view the contents. 


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When the school realised the data breach had occurred, senior staff immediately informed the Waveney Valley Academies Trust, the Information Commissioners Office and the LEA.

Stowmarket High School has closed to pupils in Year 7, 8 and 9 due to flooding but other year groups remain open Picture...

Stowmarket High School has closed to pupils in Year 7, 8 and 9 due to flooding but other year groups remain open Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

They have also received advice from Microsoft who helped stress test the school's Sharepoint pages. Staff at the school have now shut down the page that contained the personal information and checked that none of the other pages breach data regulation rules. 

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In the letter to parents, Mr Lee-Allen said: "The loophole that has led to this breach has been closed and the file has been removed." 

The headteacher has said he has received a total of six emails from parents concerned about the data breach. He said: "The vast majority of these parents said they understand mistakes happen and they support the school."

He added: "I apologise for any stress this has caused." 

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