This page sets out some of the key considerations on privacy and data protection that can arise when live, online audio/visual sessions or lessons are used as part of a school’s remote education programme.

While definitions can vary, the term ‘live streaming’ is used here to define practices where teachers are engaged in real-time sessions remotely with pupils through the use of technology.

Initial considerations

Schools should start from an understanding that live streaming represents only one form of remote education provision. Before live streaming is used, consideration should be given to the use of other forms of remote education as they may be equally or more effective than live streaming. There is no expectation from any government or administration across the UK that live streaming should be used.

Where live streaming is used, it should meet the expectations set out in the NASUWT’s live streaming checklist.

Recording live streaming

The NASUWT’s checklist makes clear that the Union does not believe that the recording of live streamed lessons is appropriate. There are approaches that can be adopted other than recording to ensure that staff and pupils are kept safe.

The advice Twenty Safeguarding Considerations for Lesson Livestreaming (pdf) published by the London Grid for Learning, for example, sets out a range of alternative safeguarding strategies. The NASUWT’s view is that another approach to remote education should be adopted if it is judged that recording is necessary for safeguarding purposes.

Recording sessions for performance management purposes is also not appropriate, as the information gathered in this way is likely to yield little useful information about the effectiveness of teachers’ remote learning strategies.

Recording live streaming creates important obligations under General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act (DPA). Given that recording makes no effective contribution to enhancing the quality of remote education provision, it is difficult to justify the time and effort required to discharge these obligations while schools continue to face unprecedented pressures as a result of the pandemic.

However, where schools are recording - or are considering recording - live streamed sessions, any failure to address the following issues would be likely to create problems in respect of GDPR or DPA compliance:

  • Recorded lessons are likely to capture the personal data of all those taking part in the lesson. They may also capture data of those not taking part directly in the lesson if, for example, a comment or other reference to them is made anywhere in the recording.

  • Schools or employers, as ‘data controllers’, are legally responsible for the storage and management of this data. They must, therefore, be able to demonstrate that their control of this data is compliant with the GDPR. As a minimum, the relevant data protection policy for the school or setting that data controllers are required to have in place would need to address the management of data captured and stored through the recording of live streaming.

  • This policy must also confirm that breaches of data must be reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Such breaches of data would include cases where individuals not authorised to use schools’ live streaming platforms gain access to data, including images of participants in live streaming sessions or any other information that pertains to these participants.

  • In particular, to be compliant with the GDPR, schools would need to have reviewed their privacy notices for staff and pupils to ensure that they make clear the basis on which data is being collected and stored.

  • A key principle of the GDPR is that the purpose of collecting data must be set out clearly. A school that does not have in place a clear explanation of the limits on the use of the data it stores is potentially in breach of the GDPR. It is also in breach of the GDPR if it uses the recording for a purpose that it has not disclosed to all those covered by the data.

  • Schools that insist on recording sessions would need to make clear how long the recordings would be retained, why they are being kept for this length of time, and what will happen to the data once this period has expired.

  • The GDPR sets out further obligations on data controllers on the security of the data to ensure the confidentiality of those subject to it and how they are able to access and review data that is relevant to them. This is particularly important in relation to arrangements to address unauthorised data capture, such as a pupil recording a live streamed session, and how this will be prevented. The NASUWT’s expectation is that where arrangements are not in place to prevent such capture, live streaming, recorded or otherwise, should not be used.

  • In all circumstances where live streaming is used, including where sessions are not recorded, schools have to ensure that the platforms being used are data secure. Such platforms should only be accessible by those permitted by their employer or school to access personal data being transmitted through the platform, including images.

  • Where the option is available, the NASUWT recommends that members should not choose to record sessions, even if they have the permission of their employer, given the significant data protection obligations that can arise. Members who choose to capture data generated through live streamed sessions may face significant difficulties if this data is not controlled in a way that is compliant with the relevant legislation and regulations (which are complex) or with their employers’ data protection policies.

  • In any event, it is unacceptable for schools to insist that live streamed sessions are recorded and/or to direct members to record sessions. Members should resist this and urgently contact the NASUWT for further advice if the matter cannot be resolved through discussion with their school.

Dealing with data protection and privacy concerns

By adhering to the NASUWT’s checklist, schools and their staff will be able to minimise the risks of breaches of data protection and other related legal obligations. However, where it becomes apparent that practice in a school raises data protection or privacy concerns, members should in the first instance seek to resolve the issue through discussion with their school or employer using the information here and in the NASUWT’s general advice on remote learning.

If it is not possible to resolve the issue in this way, members should contact the NASUWT for further information and support. Where necessary, the Union will challenge schools and employers who impose live streaming practices that do not meet the requirements set out in the checklist.