HomeData Protection GuidelinesTaking & Using Images/PhotosWhat is considered good practice when schools/ETBs take photos of their students?

What is considered good practice when schools/ETBs take photos of their students?

  • Recorded images should only be made, kept, and used where there is a valid reason for doing this.
  • Recording of images should be adequately supervised as would any other activity.
  • Pupils and their parent/guardian should be informed in advance if and when images will be taken, and their written consent should be sought for image retention and use. The school/ETB must spell this out very clearly so that the parent/guardian understands what processing will be involved. This process is known as ‘informed consent’.
  • Pupils and their parent/guardian should be informed as to how and where images will be used.
  • Images should only be used for the purpose(s) agreed.
  • Images should only be used in the intended context and should not be used out of context.
  • In general, individual pupils should not be identified, with the exception being where they are being publicly acknowledged (e.g., an award, performance, achievement) for which informed consent has been given in writing by a parent/guardian.
  • For publicity purposes, group photographs are preferable to individual ones. Where the “publicity purpose” includes a school website, prospectus, brochure, yearbook, newsletter etc, schools/ETBs must be aware that parental/guardian consent can be withdrawn at any time for the use of their child’s images, so it must be possible for the school to take down/delete the relevant images if the parental/guardian consent is withdrawn.
  • Ensure all pupils are appropriately dressed.
  • Ensure that images do not contribute to or expose children to embarrassment, distress or upset.
  • Use images that represent the diversity of pupils participating in any given activity or setting.
  • Do not use images of pupils who are considered vulnerable or whose identity may require protection.
  • Permission to take and use images of pupils can be requested as part of the school enrolment process. However schools/ETBs should note that a parent/guardian has the right to withdraw this consent at any time.
  • Refusal of consent should not in any way limit pupil’s participation in school activities.
  • Where images are kept for future use, relevant names, dates and other contextual information should be stored with them as well as copies of the signed consent for their usage.
  • Images should be carefully and securely stored in accordance security and storage and with the consent attached or cross referenced.
  • Images should only be passed to third parties for their use where this has been explicitly agreed in writing as part of the consent process. A parent/guardian should have to “opt-in” to elect to have their child’s images transferred to third parties (rather than to “opt-out”).

Photos of students on school websites

Schools need to develop a policy about the use of images of children on their websites. The internet is a public, accessible and largely unregulated media. Decisions to post information, including images, on websites should take account of this. Photographs set in a particular context (e.g., a school event) in an identified location (i.e. the school) reveal a substantial amount of information through which children may be identified. For example, images accompanied by personal information - (name) is a pupil of (school) and recently took part in xxx) - could be used by an individual to learn more about a child or young person, and used to form a relationship with them or engage in a process of ‘grooming’ them for abuse. A school/ETBs needs to make decisions about the type of images that represent the school and its activities appropriately, and to ensure parents/guardians support the policy. The informed, explicit written consent of each parent/guardian should be obtained before their child’s photo is uploaded to the school/ETB website. Parents/guardians and students aged over 18 years have the right to insist that the school/ETB takes down any photo(s) containing an image of them or their child at any time, and this right must be fully respected. Where such a request is made by a parent/guardian or by a student aged over 18 years, every effort should be made to take the photo(s) down as soon as possible. The School may wish to develop a procedure for reporting the use of inappropriate content or images to help reduce the risks to children and young people. (See: Office of Internet Safety www.internetsafety.ie).