Schools reports may go to 18-year-olds instead of parents

Move could leave parents in the dark on examination results and disciplinary records

Authorities have confirmed that parents do not have an automatic right to information held by schools regarding their children once they turn 18. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Authorities have confirmed that parents do not have an automatic right to information held by schools regarding their children once they turn 18. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Schools could be forced to correspond directly with 18-year-old students rather than their parents on issues such as exam results and disciplinary records in order to comply with data protection laws.

Authorities have confirmed that parents do not have an automatic right to information held by schools regarding their children once they turn 18.

The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), which has received legal advice on the issue, said the issue was highly significant given the increasing proportion of young adults at secondary school.

“This is a real issue which schools will need to come to terms with it,” said NAPD director Clive Byrne said.

“There are more over-18s at schools these days due to children starting school at five as well as transition year, but many schools are not familiar with their legal obligations.”

As well as receiving correspondence directly from schools, young adult students could take grievance procedures against individual teachers without their parents’ knowledge.

Personal data

The Department of Education has also confirmed that the Education Act (1998) stated that schools were obliged to provide updates to students themselves when they turned 18.

Michael McLoughlin of Youth Work Ireland said schools should embrace the fact that they were increasingly dealing with young adults.

“There should be a more equal relationship between students and teachers at that age,” he said. “Many young people don’t need parents standing over them.”

Mr Byrne said he could understand why many parents might feel worried about not being kept informed about issues affecting their children.

“In theory, however, they no longer have the right to be briefed once their children become young adults,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said compliance with data protection legislation was a matter for school boards of management.