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5 Reasons to Outsource the DPO Role

When it comes to fulfilling the mandatory Data Protection Officer (DPO) role, appointing an existing staff member who knows your school’s operations and practices is undoubtedly an attractive option. However, the breadth of knowledge required to tackle some of the challenges facing schools today is vast. Such a huge additional pressure can easily distract attention away from the core business of teaching and learning.

With an external appointment being an unaffordable option for most, many schools are now outsourcing the role to an experienced provider, allowing them to realise many benefits.

1. Avoid Conflict of Interest

The GDPR states that the DPO cannot be someone who influences the day-to-day handling of school data or a key decision-maker such as a School Business Manager or Head Teacher. Working with your Data Protection Lead (DPL), they should provide an impartial view of your systems, processes and practices, helping to assess potential improvements that could support compliance.

Whereas it may be difficult for an existing staff member to challenge practices amongst their peers, an external DPO benefits from a more detached perspective, providing the independent view and critical ability that the role requires.

2. Education-Specific Experience

With DfE guidelines, data protection laws and technological innovation ever-changing, staying on top of schools’ requirements is no easy task.

An external DPO who is a certified expert in your field should be well-versed on any changes to legislation or best practice that could impact your place of learning, and have the relevant specialist knowledge to apply this with practical improvements.

Your DPO should be familiar with how school-specific sensitive data is to be handled within day-to-day operations and the required policies and procedures that can help to protect it.

3. Expert Advice at Your Fingertips

Outsourcing the DPO role to a proficient provider will enable you to have a single point of contact for your school who can act as your independent data protection expert.

When backed by a team of experts, a DPO service can build in redundancy and ensure business continuity, helping to avoid a single point of failure caused by employee absences or periods of leave for an internal appointment. In addition, they can advise on the solutions best suited for your school’s specific needs with access to key resources.

4. Discovering Efficiencies

If schools can avoid the problematic ‘conflict of interest’ directive and have the resource to allocate DPO duties to their staff, they could appoint internally. However, with the role often inviting the need for a financial incentive (such as a TLR), many school leaders choose to allocate these costs towards appointing an external DPO with a wealth of education-specific experience.

Freeing up staff time and resources that can be better deployed elsewhere means this is a more efficient option, also removing the costs required to train an internal DPO. A good DPO can essentially become an extension to your team, supporting your data protection processes with advice on handling requests, support in producing risk registers, guiding on issue/breach management, and more.

5. An Added Layer of Protection

Although many factors contribute towards cyber resilience, an experienced DPO can reduce the chances of your establishment falling victim to cyber crime – with the ability to assess your school’s data protection practices and make recommendations in line with ICO requirements and best practices.

Unfortunately, breaches are sometimes unavoidable. An experienced DPO can support you through the process and advise on how to minimise the impact on your school. Likely to already have a collaborative relationship with regulatory authorities, they can handle liaisons with the ICO on your behalf.

A good way to check the effectiveness of your current DPO role would be to review the number of data breaches recorded and reported. If the answer is zero, this could indicate a lack of compliance, instead of ‘data protection perfection’, signifying that more support could be needed for your school.

Cantium’s Data Protection as a Service (DPOaaS) currently provides almost 200 schools, academies and trusts with dedicated DPOs that are certified GDPR practitioners and data privacy experts. We also equip them with GDPRiS, the cloud-based compliance tool that helps them meet and exceed the GDPR.

You can read more about GDPRiS and how it can benefit your school or academy here.