A mum says her son’s school banned the use of children’s surnames on textbooks, in order to comply with GDPR regulations. The bizarre situation, means her son is being called ‘Harry2’ by classmates. Newhey Community Primary School have branded Harry Szlatoszlavek with a numeral so they can differentiate between him and another boy with the same first name. The Rochdale school does not use surnames on children’s workbooks, because it believes it would fall foul of GDPR regulations, if the books were to be taken out of the classroom during parent’s evenings. However, Harry’s mum says she has gone to the Information Commissioner’s Office and has been told that the policy is ‘not necessary’. ‘Harry 2’ has even received a Christmas card from another boy which read: ‘To Harry2 from Jack2.’
His mum has criticised the school for ‘taking away his identity’. The incident was first bought to light last year, when ‘Harry 2’ was scribbled on the six-year-old’s exercise books because of his place in the register. When mum-of-four Tania questioned why this was happening, she was told it was to ‘safeguard children’. Rochdale Council got in touch with her to clarify the situation.
The Information Governance Unit told Tania: ‘The School has made a decision to not put surnames on children’s workbooks as these books are visible to others such as at parent’s evenings when books are out in the classroom and contain personal information relating to children. ‘The School has taken this decision to ensure compliance with GDPR and reduce the risks of a breach occurring going forward.’ ‘You also stated that your Child has been called Harry 2 within the classroom verbally by a Teacher. ‘Although this is not directly related to GDPR, we have raised this with the Head Teacher. ‘The Head Teacher has spoken to members of staff regarding this as it certainly is not their policy or indeed their practice not to use surnames when talking to children in school. Children’s surnames are used when talking about and to children and at no point is it their intention for Children to lose their identity.’ Tania was under the impression that the problem had been resolved last year, after a teacher placed a sticker on Harry’s book to cover over the number ‘2’.
However, when Harry went back to school to start Year 2 this week, he returned home once again with an exercise book scrawled with the name ‘Harry 2’. Tania says that despite her ‘repeated complaints’ to the school, nothing has changed. She added: ‘I understand that it’s come from a good place. And I love the school, it’s really nurturing and nice. ‘But it’s affecting my son. He has said “why am I ‘Harry 2’ not ‘Harry 1”?
‘The school say it’s just because he’s lower down in the register. So what happens if another child called Harry comes and he’s higher up in the register than my son – will he become Harry 3?’ A spokesperson for the Information Commissioner’s Office said: ‘While data protection law gives special status to the data of children, it does not prevent a child’s full name being written on a school book.’ Rochdale Council said the policy is in place to safeguard children, however it has decided to scrap the number system after feedback from a parent. ‘We’re linking in with the school about a more common sense approach,’ they added.