Antares Delivers Compliant Student Files To Meet Independent School Record Keeping Requirements Using M365


Our client has a strong 40-year history with strengths in Christian Education, performing arts and future innovation. In recent years they have grown to include the quality of their facilities, their professionalism, and the use of ICT.

The school Principal is not only responsible for running the school, but also has the primary function of ensuring the NSW Education Standards Authorities requirements are met.

In 2012 the Prime Minister recommended a Royal Commission inquire into institutional responses to child abuse. The Final Report, released in 2017, made five record keeping recommendations, including one specific recommendation that non-government schools be required to comply with minimum standards in relation to the creation, maintenance, and disposal of records relevant to child safety and wellbeing, including child sexual abuse. Inadequate records and recordkeeping have contributed to delays in or failures to identify and respond to risks and incidents of child sexual abuse and have exacerbated distress and trauma for many survivors.

The Challenge

The School used on-premises file shares and Google Drive as their primary document repositories. These did not provide for best practice that the school desired. Independent Schools must adhere to the new set of principles around document and records management that includes creation of accurate records, the need to have records maintained in an indexed, logical, and secure manner, and the need to correctly store personal information.

              “With a number of disparate Education-centric cloud-based systems, none of which adequately stored student data in a mode that complied with upcoming record keeping requirements. The School needed to re-think how student data would be stored, accessed, and securely deleted in line with requirements.

              Antares met with School stakeholders and developed an Information Management Platform that met the specific needs of the school community as well as the record keeping requirements.” Independent School ICT Manager

There were several issues:

  • The diverse number of locations where students’ files were held
  • The substantial number of different staff who held and administered individual students’ files such as faculties, Welfare staff and support teams such as Learning Enrichment.
  • Desire to have all information related to a single student in one location is that information was easily accessible and searchable

To meet these obligations, the school sought to introduce a document and records management platform that would deliver the required capabilities. They explored the feasibility of implementing Microsoft Office 365 and as a result Microsoft recommended Antares to deliver an initial document and records management Discovery project to understand the information management landscape.

The output of this Discovery project identified the need to manage the following three categories of documents:

  1. Student related files, considered to be of elevated risk
  2. Administration & support files, considered to be of medium risk
  3. Faculty file, considered to be of medium risk

The Solution

Due to the size of the challenge and the need to establish an effective protocol for student information quickly, the School and Antares agreed on the implementation of a document and records management system in stages, focussing firstly on Student Files.

Antares approached the Design and Implementation phases of work using our proven methodology. We firstly completed workshops with relevant stakeholders to understand the current environment, future-state requirements, and solution. This information was then used to create a technical and solution design for the proposed system. Thorough planning and design was completed to ensure all aspects of the environment, compliance requirements and the solution would meet the expectations of the school and the Royal Commission recommendations.

Microsoft Office 365 was deemed to be a suitable platform for the future state document and records system. Antares implemented a SharePoint Online based system, which created a single source of truth and single way of working for all Student files throughout the school.

“Staff have seen the value of the change as access to information on a student is now much easier. Staff were trained in small groups so that the training could be personalised to meet their needs. For example, staff involved in administering the Duke of Edinburgh Award were trained in the use of their folders, creating, and uploading files without the necessity for training in the Student Incident module.” Independent School ICT Manager

Additionally, the solution:

  • Sets an information architecture for Student files for all current, future, and past cohorts.
  • Enables a powerful search experience for Student files, including within documents, rather than just on simple metadata such as the document name.
  • Applies targeted and specific record keeping policies for secure access, archival, retention and ultimate disposal of Student files. This includes rules such as keeping all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island student files indefinitely.
  • Manages welfare incidents, responses and decisions with students and the associated documents through a case management system that includes an automated workflow to ensure the correct information is captured and documents are stored.

              “The School found the engagement with Antares to be very professional, with outstanding Project Management direction, along with stellar consulting from their Senior Consultant. What was found to be most valuable was the listening ability and their flexibility to innovate on previous constraints that the school and/or the proposed platform had.”  Independent School ICT Manager

The Results

This solution has allowed the School to meet the government’s requirements for Independent Schools to comply with the five principles for records and recordkeeping, significantly reducing their risk and creating a single platform that streamlines the management of Student files into the future.

High-Level principles for recording and record keeping:

  1. Creating and keeping full and accurate records relevant to child safety and wellbeing, including child sexual abuse, is in the best interests of children and should be an integral part of institutional leadership, governance, and culture.
  2. Full and accurate records should be created about all incidents, responses and decisions affecting child safety and wellbeing, including child sexual abuse.
  3. Records relevant to child safety and wellbeing, including child sexual abuse, should be maintained appropriately.
  4. Records relevant to child safety and wellbeing, including child sexual abuse, should only be disposed of in accordance with law or policy.
  5. Individuals’ existing rights to access, amend or annotate records about themselves should be fully recognised.

The introduction of good recordkeeping is an important part of making and supportingthe School to provide an environment where student safety comes first and ensures staff have a clear and consistent way to manage documents using the modern workplace tools that simply extend on the applications they are already using today.

Major achievements:

  • One source of truth for documents held on each student instead of documents spread across the school
  • Folders are rolled over automatically for the start of the following year
  • Access is much more tightly controlled with a hierarchy of access and security levels
  • Search function allows for easy access to information contained in the files, and the use of metadata provides for an analysis of the data e.g., number of break cards issued per Year level per Term  
  • Designing the system allowed us to think beyond current requirements to future requirements. For example, how do you collate information on a student for their Year 12 reference? We now have a folder called Personal Achievement for each student so that major awards can be stored easily against a student’s name.
  • It also allowed the development of a comprehensive Incident Management System which means that when an Incident is closed, a copy of the documentation automatically goes into the files of each of the students involved.

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