How data laws are costing schools in South Tyneside £100,000

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Schools in cash-strapped South Tyneside are missing out on up to £100,000 a year to support disadvantaged pupils, a report has revealed.

‘Concerns’ over sharing information due to Data Protection laws has been highlighted as an issue.

The result is that 48 children have been identified as possibly not receiving an entitlement of £1,900 each to support their education.

The lost cash amounts to almost a third of the total that schools in the borough should be claiming, the South Tyneside Council report shows.

It is money due to schools under the Government’s Pupil Premium – which targets help to former “looked-after children” – those once cared for by the local authority.

Council bosses now plan to eliminate Data Protection concerns by directly asking families to share information on their child’s history.

A South Tyneside Council spokeswoman said: “If all families caring for a former looked-after child gave consent, this could result in schools across the borough sharing additional revenue worth up to about £100,000 per year.

“The council sees this work as a key step in ensuring former looked-after children have the best start in life.”

The report states the council holds detailed information about former looked- after children.

But it adds: “Unfortunately, Data Protection concerns preclude the sharing of this data directly with schools.

“Guidelines stipulating the premium must be based on the school census prohibit the council completing the return on behalf of schools.

“The process of identifying these pupils falls to schools, who typically liaise with families encouraging those who care for a former looked-after child to disclose details about that child’s past history to the school.

“Anecdotally it appears there is a reticence amongst families to fully engage in this process which impacts on claim numbers.”

She added: “Whilst Data Protection concerns preclude the blanket sharing of information, one possible solution entails the council working with families to seek consent for the data to be shared with schools.”

Pupils subject to a Post Looked After arrangement attract a Pupil Premium of £1,900.

In South Tyneside, 120 pupils are subject to the premium, with schools receiving £228,000 in additional funding.