Keeping your school’s data secure: how to manage the risks

With the education sector targeted for attacks during this pandemic period, how secure is your school’s data? London CLC’s Peter Lillington sets out some of the risks along with the latest free resources to help you manage them.

Data security is of critical concern for a school’s business operations and its robustness affects every member of the school community. This includes not only the physical school infrastructure and network, but any cloud services, policies and procedures and people’s awareness and behaviours.

During this pandemic period there have been reports of increased criminal activity online and many instances of Covid-related scams of various kinds, whether the peddling of bogus treatments and tests or the use of fake identity stolen from an unsuspecting individual to unlawfully apply for government grants. An alert aimed at the education sector  was issued in September (pdf version available here), which describes the increase in ransomware attacks, looks at trends in how attackers get into their victims’ network, the crimes they commit and the mitigations organisations can take to disrupt ransomware attacks and enable effective recovery. 

It’s a National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) alert and the NCSC’s own disclaimer is worth a look: 

“Any NCSC findings and recommendations made have not been provided with the intention of avoiding all risks, and following the recommendations will not remove all such risk. Ownership of information risks remains with the relevant system owner at all times.”

As it makes clear, risks will always remain, but there are things we can all do to reduce them.

With that in mind, what can schools do?

The NCSC itself is providing new guidance for governors with a useful list of eight questions for governors and school leaders to start the cyber security conversation. It also provides many infographic style resources that convey simply what schools need to consider. 

We particularly like the glossary as unusual sounding words and jargon abound in this field. You can also find it as an alphabetical list on a web page.

NCSC glossary

Especially relevant for the current period is the home working guidance. If your school or  local authorities are providing laptops and devices for families and students as well as staff it’s important that this aspect is considered.

The DfE recent guidance on remote learning, as well as the older guidance from lockdown, refers to the Video Conferencing service guide.

Screenshot from

On a much lighter note, if you get our weekly newsletter (you don’t?! Sign up now!) you may have seen a great explanation of https in comic form. Discover how cats, crabs and pugs help to explain some key concepts…

  • Want to find out more? Join us on Tuesday 13 October (coincidentally also Ada Lovelace day!) 10-11.30am for our  Digital Security for Schools CPD session. We’ll be exploring the issues and requirements that schools are facing in the light of new technologies and legislation, including cyber and network security, data and information security and requirements of KCSIE Annex C online safety measures.

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Does your school need a sustained programme in the use of digital technology to underpin your whole school aims and plans?

Our support package covers the following:

Professional learning

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Engaging, practical workshops for your class, in your school, at our Clapham centre online

Creative technology projects

Engaging, immersive educational experiences with corporate and cultural partners

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Upcoming CPD

Summer primary school computing conference
Summer primary school computing conference

This event will build upon the Autumn computing conference by inviting subject leaders to reflect on their year in the role, sharing their successes and challenges. It will also introduce new ideas, tools and approaches through talks and practical activities led by members of the CLC team, with opportunities for attendees to share their own expertise and experience. Over the course of the conference activities will touch on the three main areas of the computing curriculum: computer science, digital literacy and information technology. We will also feature advice and examples illustrating the use of technology to support blended learning.

- 15:30
Computing subject leaders, Teachers...
Creative Arts, Digital and children – CLC meets More Than Robots online
Creative Arts, Digital and children - CLC meets More Than Robots online

Combining forces for the first time, the Connected Learning Centre and More Than Robots have created a session for teachers, youth organisations, researchers and policymakers interested in the digital provision of creative arts for primary aged pupils.


The Play Observatory - Prof. John Potter

“In their own words”: Westminster Abbey & CLC digital projects - Sian Shaw

Building (and maintaining) a city-wide primary arts curriculum to raise attainment - Kate Fellows

More to be added soon

This interactive and inclusive meet up will include inspiring examples of how technology can be used to support learning in music, visual art and drama in person and online at home drawing on our experiences as Tate Exchange associates and our partnership work with a range of cultural institutions.

This informal event is an opportunity to discuss real examples of what does/doesn’t work, meet colleagues from other sectors working on similar challenges and share useful research, news or updates

The morning will include case study presentations (details below) followed by a Q&A. There will also be an opportunity for a rapid sharing round for launches, project updates or requests for help and a short break to avoid zoom brain drain.

- 11:30
KS1, KS2
Subject leaders, Teachers...

Upcoming Special projects

The News Project
- 14:25

Special project in collaboration with First News Education

For a third year, building on two successful previous projects, we are once again partnering with the children’s newspaper First News, fellow member of the national Making Sense of Media and News Literacy networks. This special project with a literacy, PSHE and citizenship, as well as computing focus, highlights our specialist interest in this important aspect of digital and critical literacy.

The News Project will enable participating classes from year 5 to immerse themselves in news and current affairs using First News and the Bett award-winning First News iHUB, which will be provided free of charge during the school-based part of the project over a six week period. Under the guidance of their teacher, pupils will be supported in their development as a community of fully informed news readers. Classes will test their new critical skills and knowledge in the culminating virtual celebration event which will include a news competition and team-based critical literacy and editorial activities. After the event, schools will be able to use the resources from the day in their school.

The project will launch with an introductory CPD session for teachers to set the context, demonstrate resources and to plan for the school-based activities. 

Initial CPD session - Thursday 21st October 4pm-5.00pm. 

Project work undertaken in school - October and November.

Special event - Thursday 25th November 9.30am-2.45pm.

The Garden Museum

The CLC is once again partnering with the Garden Museum to offer a partnership project for KS1 pupils (primarily suited to Yr2). Located next to Lambeth Palace on the bank of the Thames, the museum has an inspiring collection that provides the ideal stimulus for young learners to explore the world around them.

Pupils will use technology alongside the museum’s collection to explore the wonderful world of seeds.

  • How are they planted?
  • How do they spread?
  • What is inside them?

 The Garden Museum has a large collection of seeds and tools that pupils will engage with.

These half-day sessions will take place at the Garden Museum.

There is a limited number of dates available, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

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