Public schools in NSW are responsible for creating and managing records relating to school administration. These records include student enrolment and attendance records, assessment records, class programs, rosters, management plans, school policies, committee records, financial records and building and facilities records.
By creating and managing records effectively, schools will be able to meet their legislative responsibilities as well as their administrative responsibilities to teachers, students and parents.
This page contains links to rules and guidance that will assist schools in making and keeping records appropriately.
Public school records such as admission registers and certain pre 1950 school records are important archival records and have high research values. These types of records need to be cared for by the school until they are no longer required for current business. They can then be transferred to the Department of Education for transfer to NSW State Archives and Records. Giving them away to private organisations, members of the public or current and former members of staff is a breach of the State Records Act 1998.
Please contact the the Records Management Centre of Expertise at the Department of Education on 1300 32 32 32 or EDConnect.firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance with recordkeeping enquiries. The Department also has advice on their intranet.
A record is any information that is created or received in the course of official duties in a public school. Records can be in any format, including paper files, email messages, word-processed documents and spreadsheets.
Under the State Records Act schools are required to:
- create full and accurate records of their business
- keep records for as long as needed to provide evidence of the business conducted and to meet legal or other obligations
- destroy records only when they are authorised for destruction
- transfer permanently valuable records (‘State archives’) to NSW State Archives and Records, where they will be retained as part of the State’s official archives.
NSW State Archives and Records has published two leaflets on recordkeeping responsibilities. These leaflets may be distributed to employees so that they are aware of their responsibilities to create and keep records of the official business that they undertake.
Recordkeeping fundamentals explains:
- what records are
- why they are important
- the role that each employee has in the effective management of records.
Recordkeeping Reminders outlines some common situations where employees should make and keep records.
Public schools should store records in ways that protect them from unauthorised access and hazards (e.g. water, excessive light and heat, and vermin and insects).
NSW State Archives and Records has published some guidelines on the conditions in which records should be stored. These guidelines suggest methods for achieving stable temperature and humidity levels in records storage areas, and for protecting records from excessive light and vermin and insects.
Records should be stored in labelled boxes, and schools should keep lists of records so that they can easily be found when needed.
Records disposal involves destroying records or transferring records to another organisation (e.g. NSW State Archives and Records). Public schools should only dispose of records in accordance with a retention and disposal authority.
Retention and disposal authorities:
- specify how long different types of records must be kept before they can be destroyed
- identify records that will be kept permanently as part of the State’s official archives.
NSW State Archives and Records has issued the following disposal authority for public schools:
NSW State Archives and Records has also issued a retention and disposal authority that covers different types of administrative records created or received by all government agencies, including:
- financial and accounting records (FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT)
- records documenting the purchase and maintenance of equipment and stores (EQUIPMENT & STORES)
- personnel/HR records (PERSONNEL)
- records documenting the maintenance of buildings and facilities (PROPERTY MANAGEMENT).
Public schools must not destroy school records before the minimum retention periods in these retention and disposal authorities have expired.
Some records created and kept by public schools have permanent value and will be retained as part of the State’s official archives. These records are known as ‘State archives’ and must not be destroyed.
All school records dating from before 1900 are required as State archives. In addition, the following types of records dating from 1900 onwards are required as State archives:
Schools should keep State archives in a safe and secure location until they are no longer required for business or reference purposes. Schools should then arrange to transfer the records to NSW State Archives and Records via the Department of Education.
Transferring records involves boxing and listing the records and arranging for collection or delivery. For further information and advice about transferring records, please contact the Records Management Centre of Expertise at the Department of Education on 1300 32 32 32 or EDConnect.email@example.com.
Most records created and kept by public schools have only temporary value and may eventually be destroyed. The Department of Education has produced a summary listing the retention periods applying to the most common types of school records – this listing is available from the Department's intranet.
Public schools may destroy records that are not required as State archives when the relevant minimum retention period has expired and if the records have no further value to the school. The destruction of records should be done in a way that is:
- secure and confidential
NSW State Archives and Records has published some advice on the destruction of records. This covers the destruction of hard copy and digital records.
Some school records may be destroyed as a normal administrative practice without reference to a retention and disposal authority (e.g. facilitative drafts and working papers, duplicate copies of records stored elsewhere, input forms for data entry, ephemeral telephone messages, and advertising material and ‘junk mail’).
NSW State Archives and Records provides a number of free online training modules on recordkeeping in the NSW public sector. These can be accessed through our training resource centre.
For further information and advice about creating and keeping records, please contact the the Records Management Centre of Expertise at the Department of Education on 1300 32 32 32 or EDConnect.firstname.lastname@example.org
Published May 2014 / Revised February 2016 / Revised January 2017/Revised October 2017 to update disposal authority information/Revised February 2018