A R O P S Conference

The Headmistress opened the conference with a welcome and a brief history of the school. In the 1880s Government decided that towns with populations of over 4000 should have an independent girls school so with initial subscription money of £800 St. Swithun’s was opened in 1884. It has no endowment and is now mostly weekly boarding with 8% of pupils from overseas. The main part of the current buildings had been erected in 1927 and it had spacious premises with well kept grounds in 37 acres. Dr Harvey concluded by saying ‘education’ and not ‘qualification’ is the important part of a school and they do not mean the same thing.

Ben Beabey of Farrer & Co gave the first paper on Data Protection. He made a dull subject come to life with his dry humour when talking about recent privacy cases of Naomi Campbell and Catherine Zeta-Jones – ‘they went to school somewhere!’ The legislation came from a dense thicket of Euro legislation in 1984 but we are now governed by the Act of 1998 when paper based systems were brought into the net. It covers the processing of living persons and includes photographs and data subjects. Responsibilities circle around a data controller who in the case of delegates is the old pupils’ societies. Wilmslow is the only DP authority; watch out for many scam firms operating from other addresses.

Paper records are said to be a relevant filing system with ready and easy accessibility of the information contained. Section 7 of the Act has a right of access request with 40 days to reply or there will be a fine of £10. Lengthy mention was made of who should register but it was advisable for any OPS to do so and it seemed many in the room had not registered. Even if the school was doing some of the processing the records were the property of the society. Amongst 30 exemptions is one for the press which could cover Editors of magazines but you must read the small print on these and bear in mind the press one applies only where there is public interest which might not be so the case of membership journals. There was discussion on how best to get consent for holding the subjects material: Written was the best but other ways were probably allowable.

Michael Freegard of Haileybury spoke on the results of a survey on registers and opened by flourishing the John Lyon magazine with centre pages of names in which one recent edition had our obituary of Bob Gillett as it was his old school mag. Of 74 replies only two were digital only so the SOF would be one. The speaker was surprised that one went back to 1890 but of course ours goes back to 1865. Some societies had up to 8000 members and one of 5000 had only 206 names on the website – a la Fram was! Many do not charge for a printed register but those who do ranged from £5.50 to £40. At St. Paul’s with a membership of 6000 they launched their register on the website in December and immediately 3000 logged on their details.

In the final session Roger Moulton gave case studies of a thriving and waning society. He took the latter as the St. Flavian School so ‘OFs’ were spoken of across the hall for the rest of the day! There were some similarities to our society but not on the digital front with the upgrading which has taken place in the SOF in the last few years.



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