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Information sharing protocols

The Education Standards Authority Act 2013 permits NESA to enter into information sharing arrangements with higher education providers.

The provision of information is guided by Protocols that have been agreed between NESA and NSW universities and other higher education providers.

Protocols

Preface

The Protocols and related Information Sharing Agreements have been developed for the following purposes:

  • Facilitate the process permitted under section 16 of the Education Standards Authority Act 2013, where NESA may enter into arrangements with relevant agencies including Teacher Education Institutions for the purpose of sharing or exchanging information. Information may include data described at paragraph 3
  • Ensure signatories are aware of their obligations with regard to use of that information.
  • Establish a framework of information sharing which ensures efficient use of information.
  • Maximise benefits for organisations and all stakeholders (including schools, teachers, students and initial teacher education students)
  • Build trust between information sharing parties, and
  • Avoid the risk of disputes.

1. Purpose of Protocols

1.1 The purpose of this document is to set out Protocols to which signatories will adhere when providing, accessing and managing information shared, as part of an Information Sharing Agreement.

1.2 The parties to an Information Sharing Agreement may include NESA, Teacher Education Institutions, NSW Council of Deans of Education, NSW Department of Education, Catholic Education Commission, Association of Independent Schools, schools, and other relevant agencies permitted under section 16 of the Education Standards  Authority Act 2013.

1.3 Each request for information will be initiated by NESA to the proposed Provider(s), using the template Information Sharing Agreement attached to the Protocols, specifying who requires the information, the purpose for which the information is sought, the data required, the methodology for how information will be used and how results will be disseminated or published. For each round of data collection a separate information sharing agreement needs to be signed if there are different purposes, different data and different audiences for publication of analyses of the data set. These Protocols will accompany each request.

1.4 The parties to an Information Sharing Agreement should ensure the burden on the Providing Organisation is considered and timelines are realistic. Resource sharing arrangements will be established where necessary.

1.5 The Information Sharing Agreement should recognise other relevant data protocols , where applicable.

1.6 Without derogating from section 16 of the Education Standards Authority Act 2013, a party that receives a request for information from NESA as described in paragraph 1.3 may reserve a right to refuse or propose to amend the particulars of that particular request.

2. Principles of Protocols

2.1 The principles underlying this document are:

  • information sharing is of benefit to NESA, Teacher Education Institutions and other relevant agencies for development of plans and policy to improve the quality of teaching in NSW;
  • provision of the requested data is necessary for achievement of the study or program objectives;
  • the potential value of the research justifies the extent of resources required to provide the data;
  • publically available data or other existing data sources will be used where possible, with steps taken to ensure information is not already available before requesting data, including reference to the Higher Education Data Committee for advice;
  • data is only used for the specific, agreed purposes;
  • the research methodology is appropriate;
  • data is provided in a timely, efficient manner;
  • data is kept secure;
  • the results of analyses are shared to benefit all parties; and
  • data is held only for as long as deemed necessary.

3. Types of data

3.1 The Protocols refer to aggregated institutional data sets only. Requests for sharing of personal data (i.e. data that can identify individual students, pre-service teachers or teachers) would need to be guided by a separate new protocols document or a revision to this document.

3.2 The types of data permitted to be requested as described in paragraph 1.3 and specified in an Information Sharing Agreement may include:

  • Teacher workforce data (in conjunction with other agreements)
  • Demographic data of schools, cohorts of students, pre-service teachers, teachers
  • Initial teacher education and professional experience data
  • Entry and graduation data.

3.3 The types of data must not exceed the types of information described under section 16(2) of the Education Standards Authority Act 2013.

4. Authorised users

4.1 Access to data will be limited to authorised users with a genuine need, defined as staff members or contractors of parties to an Information Sharing Agreement who are involved in analysis, interpretation or information management in relation to the specified data. If contractors are to be authorised users, they will be required to sign a Deed of Confidentiality.

4.2 The parties to an Information Sharing Agreement will ensure that only authorised users have access to the data.

4.3 The parties to an Information Sharing Agreement should ensure authorised users of data are properly trained in the handling of data and comply with the terms of the Protocols.

4.4 The parties to an Information Sharing Agreement will each designate a Data Sharing Lead as the point of contact for all information sharing matters, including information requests.

4.5 The parties to an Information Sharing Agreement will each designate a Lead Officer with delegated authority and/or seniority in their agency to approve the terms of the agreement, review outputs and resolve disputes, where necessary. Although not mandatory, it is desirable that the Lead Officer will have delegated authority from their agency to execute the Information Sharing Agreement.

5. Authorised use of the data

5.1 NESA will only use the data for purposes agreed and specified in the Information Sharing Agreement.

5.2 NESA will not make copies of the data for any purpose other than for which the data was provided and specified in the Information Sharing Agreement.

5.3 The parties to an Information Sharing Agreement will not attempt to re-identify the data if it is provided in a de-identified or aggregated form.

5.4 NESA will not release the data to any third party or engage in any data matching activities involving the data without prior written consent from the Providing Organisation

5.5 The parties to an Information Sharing Agreement will take reasonable measures to safeguard the commercial and reputational standing of data providers when considering the use of data and publication of results. The parties to an Information Sharing Agreement will be able to assess the risk when reviewing draft reports.

5.6 Reports are to include an explanation of procedures associated with access, use and disclosure of the data.

5.7 Where compliance with these Protocols may place any of the parties to an Information Sharing Agreement in breach of any relevant standards on research integrity, such as the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, the relevant research integrity standards will prevail over these Protocols.

6. Compliance with privacy legislation and restrictions on the use of the data

6.1 The data will not be used in any manner that is inconsistent with the Information Privacy Principles contained in the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW), the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 (Cth) and the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (Cth).

6.2 The data will not be used in ways which would breach any relevant legislation, or in ways contrary to the requirements of existing agreements across all phases including collection, use, management, storage, and dissemination or publication.

6.3 Subject to paragraphs 6.1 and 6.2, the data will not be used or reported in ways which could identify individual students, staff, schools, school sectors, Teacher Education Institutions or other commercial entities, unless agreed by the parties to an Information Sharing Agreement and proposed use is also authorised by law.

6.4 If NESA receives a request under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 in relation to data specified in the Information Sharing Agreement, it will use best endeavours to consult with the Providing Organisation beforehand.

7. Dissemination or publication of the data

7.1 The Providing Organisation must be acknowledged as the source of data in any publication or presentation using the data.

7.2 NESA will provide the Lead Officer of the Providing Organisation with a copy of any report, article, presentation or other material to be published for review at least 30 days prior to release for correction of errors or misinterpretation, opportunity to respond to any issues and/or confirmation.

7.3 The Providing Organisation may formally indicate objections to dissemination or publication of particular material. Objections will be conveyed to the Lead Officer of NESA in accordance with dispute resolution processes set out in the Information Sharing Agreement.

8. Data quality

8.1 Data quality will be examined to ensure data is fit for purpose. Data quality issues identified will be investigated in consultation with Providing Organisation, and addressed where feasible. Relevant caveats and explanatory notes will accompany all release of data.

8.2 Methodology for the organisation, description, analysis and interpretation of data to be reported internally or externally will be described in the Information Sharing Agreement and discussed with Providing Organisations, if requested.

8.3 Information will be current as at the date and time it was supplied by the Providing Organisation. The Providing Organisation will notify NESA if any errors in the dataset are subsequently identified, however the Providing Organisation will not be obliged to provide updates for currency unless a requirement is specified in the Information Sharing Agreement.

9. Security of data

9.1 The Information Sharing Agreement will specify appropriate media and the format in which the data can be delivered securely, and NESA will be responsible for security of the data from the point at which delivery is confirmed.

9.2 NESA will store the data securely, in accordance with recognised standards and the organisation’s information security policy and guidelines.

9.3 NESA will maintain a record of who has access to the data, when, and for what purpose.

10. Confidentiality

10.1 NESA will take all reasonable steps to keep confidential information under effective control and protect it from unauthorised use or access.

10.2 NESA will immediately notify the Providing Organisation if it becomes aware of any unauthorised access to, use, or disclosure of confidential information.

10.3 NESA will only disclose confidential information if it is required by law to do so. NESA undertakes in this event to inform the Providing Organisation.

11. Retention and disposal of data

11.1 The Information Sharing Agreement will specify retention periods for the data to be shared, any requirements for disposal of information after the duration of the agreement and any requirements to verify disposal.

12. Review Arrangements

12.1 The Protocols will be formally reviewed bi-annually by the NESA Research and Development Committee and any updated version of the Protocols must be agreed to by the signatories, which includes obtaining approval from the NSW Vice Chancellors’ Committee on behalf of NSW universities, before it can take effect.

12.2 Any of the signatories can request an extraordinary review at any time where a joint discussion or decision is necessary to address local developments.

12.3 The most recent version of the Protocols will be made available on the NESA website and users of the data are responsible for ensuring they are compliant with these Protocols.

13. Complaints handling

13.1 The parties to an Information Sharing Agreement are responsible for putting in place effective procedures to address complaints relating to the use and disclosure of information, and information about these procedures should be made available to each party.

13.2 Under NSW and Commonwealth privacy legislation, individuals who believe their personal information has been mishandled have the right to lodge a complaint with the NSW Privacy Commissioner or the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner respectively.

GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS

NESA – the NSW Education Standards Authority and who is the party to an Information Sharing Agreement that will be receiving, storing and using the data.

Data Sharing Lead – the responsible data-providing/handling officer from each party to an Information Sharing Agreement that is the point of contact for all information sharing matters, including information requests.

Information Sharing Agreement – an agreement to share or exchange information and/or data that is permitted under section 16 of the Education Standards Act 2013.

Lead Officer – the responsible senior officer from each party to an Information Sharing Agreement with delegated authority and/or seniority to approve the terms of Information Sharing Agreements, review outputs and resolve disputes, where necessary.

Providing Organisation – the organisation providing the data.

Teacher Education Institution – NSW organisations such as universities responsible for initial teacher education programs that are accredited by the NSW Minister for Education.

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