Are school leavers increasing your chance of a cyberattack? 

18 March, 2024

Are school leavers increasing your chance of a cyberattack? 

A key ingredient in any cybersecurity strategy is managing school leavers appropriately. Here's how it can help prevent a cyberattack.

The security of student and staff data is vitally important in education.

We are seeing a rise in the number of cyberattacks on the education sector, as cybercriminals seem to be turning their heads away from businesses and towards schools and colleges.

In fact, The Cyber Security Breaches Report found:  

  • Educational institutions are more likely to identify cybersecurity breaches or attacks than the average UK business.  
  • Around 1 in 10 primary schools experienced cybercrime in 2023. 
  • Around 1 in 3 secondary schools experienced cybercrime in 2023. 

A key ingredient in developing a strategy for your school’s cybersecurity is managing school leavers appropriately. You can add an additional layer of protection around your school’s data by establishing a robust school leaver strategy.

School cybersecurity lock on green door

Why cybersecurity matters for schools and trusts

It goes without saying that schools handle a vast amount of sensitive data, including student records, parental contact details and staff payroll information.

Any breach in the security of this data will result in disruption, reputational damage and a loss of trust and confidence in the school.

Teaching and learning downtime

Cyberattacks can cause system downtime, which would result in staff and students being unable to access vital tools and apps they need for teaching and learning.

Without access to emails, Google Classroom or Microsoft 365, teachers may struggle to access lesson plans, resources and deliver classes effectively, as well as distribute assignments and communicate with students and parents.

Likewise, students would be unable to access learning materials, submit assignments and get the latest updates for their classes.

Loss of data

In the event of a ransomware attack, sensitive information stored within your school’s systems could be compromised or encrypted.

A loss of student records, assessment data, attendance records and financial information could be the result.

Not only would this type of event massively disrupt your school, but it could also massively erode the trust of staff, students and parents.

Disruption to communication

Cyberattacks can disrupt communication channels and tools within your school, which has a detrimental effect on collaboration between teachers, students and admin staff.

For example, email services may become unavailable, making it challenging to make announcements, coordinate school activities or provide support to students and staff.

Impact on school budget and reputation

All the above requires significant time, resources and expertise to fix. With school budgets and staff time already being squeezed, the additional stress of a cyberattack could have a seriously negative impact and divert attention away from teaching and learning.

And in turn, a data breach has lasting implications on your reputation and credibility, potentially eroding the trust you’ve built up with staff, students, parents and the local community.


Woman in white long sleeve shirt with laptop in a school setting

How to manage school leavers effectively

Establish clear procedures

Develop clear and comprehensive procedures for managing school leavers, including students, teachers and admin staff.

Document these procedures in a formal policy or handbook to ensure consistency and accountability across the school or trust.

Communication between teams

Explain the importance of robust data management to MIS teams, admissions officers, personnel managers and trust MIS staff.

Disable accounts as soon as people leave

Immediately revoke leavers’ access privileges to school systems, networks, email accounts, and other digital resources according to your school’s policies. This prevents unauthorised access to sensitive information and reduces the risk of data breaches or security incidents.

Laptop and devices return

Require any staff member or student who is leaving to return any school-issued equipment and devices to prevent any access to sensitive information and reduce the risk of security incidents after they’ve left.

Enable Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) on accounts

Turn on MFA on all staff accounts to add an additional layer of security beyond passwords. This requires the user to confirm their identity using another device or authentication application.

Automate everything!

Enjoy the magic of automation with Salamander.

Our Integration Suite automates all user account provisioning, integrating your MIS data with the top EdTech tools, helping you save 100s of hours of admin time each year:

Automation of user account provisioning means:  

  • Access is automatically revoked for all school leavers, according to your school’s policies.  
  • Automated set up of user permissions – staff and students only access data/resources they need to teach, work and learn.  
  • Class memberships are always up-to-date as soon as a student moves up the school. 
  • Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) can be automatically enabled for new and existing staff. 

School or MAT? 

We’re the UK’s leading user management solutions provider, trusted by 4000+ schools. Our Integration Suite automates the creation of staff and pupil accounts and the setup of classes, subjects, year groups and more.  

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MSP for education? 

Salamander for Partners can help managed service providers (MSP), value added resellers (VAR) or IT support providers (ITSP) save time and eradicate the hassle of onboarding and provisioning schools whilst earning you an attractive reseller margin. 

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Courtney Farrow

Written by Courtney Farrow

Marketing and Social media

Courtney supports SalamanderSoft in creating engaging online content for the company website and social media channels. She has over ten years of experience in digital content creation and her company Bloom Creative specialises in helping software and tech brands attract, convert and retain customers.

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