Data Protection
Fast Start
Are you:

A school or PTA already using Classlist

You're done! And there's some good news.

Classlist will be introducing our new Terms & Conditions and Privacy Notice and communicating with you about our new Data Protection Agreement over the next few weeks. These updated documents will align our processes and procedures with new regulations.

If you're a PTA there's also some good news! With this new framework your school can do much more to help you with the nitty gritty of Classlist administration - in particular they can assist in checking new joiner names and emails against a master list, and also share new class lists with you when class membership changes at the end of each term or year. This isn't much work for them - and a big win for you! This letter to the school sets out how they can help.

If you’re a school and the data controller for Classlist, then you are able to have have representatives of your PTA assist you in operating your Classlist site (for example helping to administer a PTA event). In this case they are acting as agents of the school. If the school's Classlist site will primarily be used for PTA purposes (for example sending PTA announcements or organising PTA events) it may be more appropriate for the PTA to act as data controller and set up the site directly themselves.

A PTA and keep some form of parent record (email lists for announcements, events etc)

What do I need to do? And what's the good news?

1 - If your PTA isn't using Classlist, sign up! It only takes a few minutes and makes it much easier for you to comply with new regulations

2 - As part of the sign-up process you will accept a Data Protection Agreement which keeps us both squeaky clean regarding new regulations. Classlist users themselves enter all their personal data themselves and agree to the Terms & Conditions and Privacy Notice. If (as we recommend) you have a number of PTA members helping to administer the site, they will have access to more information and hence need to take special care: this is all covered in the T&Cs which everybody signs up to

3 - The good news is that using this new framework your school can now lawfully help you validate Classlist applicants and update your class lists. That's a massive win for most PTAs in terms of time saving and extra security. And it's very little work for the school. This letter to your school head or school manager sets out what they and you need to do in practical and legal terms - it's very straightforward


Why do I need to do anything?

PTAs, or Class Reps working with the PTA, typically hold some kind of record of parent names and emails, used to issue newsletters or organise events. In data protection language this is likely to make your PTA a “Data Controller”. Which makes you responsible for complying with new regulations - including reporting any issues back to government. It doesn't matter if you use Classlist or not - this applies to everybody.

Does this sound a complete pain? It needn't be. Classlist is purpose-built to take care of data protection headaches. If you already use Classlist there is very little for you to do. New Classlist users become compliant the moment you set up.

And it gets better Through following these new rules your school can lawfully help your PTA update class lists and validate joiners.

OK. What other background should I know?

Whether or not you use Classlist, as somebody working with personal data you should understand your new responsibilities. The UK government has prepared a handy 12 step guide. We show which are most relevant to PTAs here.

We've worked with one of the UK's top five lawyers to ensure Classlist takes care of as much of this as we can. Our Data Protection Agreement sets out PTA and Classlist responsibilities. You can also review the other legal stuff (Privacy Notice, Term & Conditions for Members, and more) here. By setting up your school with Classlist you agree to comply with the conditions set out in these documents. Existing PTAs and schools are being asked to reconfirm their agreement.

And, that's it!

Okay. You're feeling safer already. Once you're comfortable with your responsibilities, you're done. If your school can lend a hand that's great - and will save you time, but it's not a show stopper. Need more info? Check our FAQs or you're welcome to contact our Helpdesk for more info.

A PTA but use the school office for everything and never contact parents directly

Take the plunge!

1 - If your PTA isn't using Classlist, sign up! It only takes a few minutes and makes it much easier for you to comply with new regulations

2 - Using your school office to forward messages isn't an ideal solution - it builds in delay and can make it difficult to reach particular groups or get feedback. Data protection concerns also mean some schools have removed this service. Managing your own Classlist site also gives you much more control over what you send to whom, and enables you to start a two-way dialogue with parents. It is also the most straightforward solution from a data protection perspective. Timing is very good right now to launch your own Classlist site. School heads are generally delighted that the PTA is taking the initiative around data protection and building your community. They can really help you be successful.

3 - As part of the sign-up process you will accept a Data Protection Agreement which keeps us both squeaky clean regarding new regulations. Classlist users themselves enter all their personal data themselves and agree to the Terms & Conditions and Privacy Notice. If (as we recommend) you have a number of PTA members helping to administer the site, they will have access to more information and hence need to take special care: this is all covered in the T&Cs which everybody signs up to

4 - One important challenge as you start creating a new Classlist site for your PTA is how to invite parents in the first place, especially if you haven't been in direct email contact before. Classlist can provide lots of advice based on what has worked for other PTAs. Strong support from your School Head is very helpful in encouraging parents to sign up quickly and you will find suggested drafts which you can forward to your Head on your Classlist Ambassador dashboard.

5 - As a final step in the data protection jigsaw, before fully launching your site you need to alert parents two weeks in advance by posting this notice on the PTA website, so parents know what to expect.


This sounds a lot of work. Can't my school just handle everything?

Most UK PTAs prefer to run their own shop and handle parent to parent comms. Schools tend to focus first on teaching and learning – meaning that parent stuff stays at the bottom of the pile. It's also simpler from a data protection perspective because parents know who's in charge and are clearly consenting to this when they sign up to the site.

However, if your school is keen and has resources, or you want the school to kick things off and involve parents later, Classlist already works directly with many UK schools and is happy to help. The school is typically already in email contact with parents which makes it easier for them to collect, manage and update parent data.

Where the school runs the site PTA members sometimes help out as part of the school's admin team. Because the PTA isn't taking the lead, PTA members must be careful that parent information they have access to through this special role isn't used for PTA purposes - for example transferring email addresses into a PTA database. They can still send and monitor email announcements, set up and manage events, and post messages - just like every other member.

A Class Rep or individual parent, acting without reference to anybody else

I just want to get going, with no involvement from the school or PTA. Any problems?

You're welcome to launch a site - in fact this is exactly how Classlist started! Once you've got the ball rolling you may well find other classes want to set up - this is where the PTA or school office can lend a hand in managing things.

You do need to take care when collecting parent email addresses – parents should have given these to you in order to hear from the class or year group, rather than for some other unrelated reason.

If you've obtained email addresses on this basis, you can switch to using Classlist for all your ongoing emails. Recipients can either sign up to the full Classlist system and share more info, or do nothing and simply stay in “receive” mode for your emails and announcements.

A School interested in working with Classlist

How Schools work directly with Classlist – and involve PTA officers if needed

1 - Welcome! If your school isn't using Classlist, it takes a couple of minutes to sign up here.

2 - In data protection terms the school acts as Data Controller and confirms during sign up that Classlist will act as its Data Processor. The school also needs to post on the website, or include in regular parent communications, this notice about the upcoming change two weeks before officially inviting parents to join the site

4 - If your PTA is a separate organisation, they can appoint Ambassadors and Class Reps to act as site administrators, working with the school. They need to understand their responsibilities, described in Section 4 of the Terms & Conditions, which are broadly similar to those of any other parent using the system. However they must take extra care not to use any personal data they obtain whilst administering the site for PTA purposes - for example they cannot set up a separate PTA mailing list, or enter any data into another social network or event invitation system which is outside Classlist. If your PTA isn't separate from the school then parents assisting you will be acting under the school's umbrella - but must still take great care not to share personal data.

5 - With these arrangements in place the school can lawfully enter existing parent names and email addresses into Classlist to invite parents to join the site. In addition, it is recommended that the Head email parents directly from the school system inviting them to join.

It sounds easier if our school sets up the Classlist site. Is this right?

The organisation setting up the site has more privileges and can use it for more things. If you have an active PTA with lots of Class Reps, events and announcements then we generally recommend the PTA takes the lead. If the PTA doesn't communicate extensively with parents or has limited resources and your main objective is to enable parents contact each other, it is fine for the school to lead. You do need to make it clear to parents who manages the site. If this changes later, you can always ask parents to reconfirm they are happy with new arrangements.


When do I need to get this sorted?


Well in advance of May 2018. This is when UK law on how schools and PTAs deal with “personal data” – information they hold about parents and their children – will change significantly. This is part of a Europe-wide initiative called the General Data Protection Regulation or "GDPR".

Parents and children will have far more control over how organisations collect, store and use their information. There will be increased financial penalties for those not complying. These changes won't be affected by Brexit.