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Schools and Direct Marketing

The basic rule that applies to direct marketing is that you need the consent of the individual to use their personal data for direct marketing purposes.  At a minimum, an individual must be given a right to refuse such use of their personal data both at the time the data is collected (an “opt-out”) and, in the case of direct marketing by electronic means, on every subsequent marketing message.  The “opt-out” right must be free of charge.  

A school/ETB must obtain prior written consent to direct marketing if it wishes to issue direct marketing (whether by post, email or sms text messaging).

The recipient should be given the option to “unsubscribe” free of charge on receipt of each communication.  This “unsubscribe” should be fully respected and no further direct marketing communications should be sent to that individual. Schools/ETBs must ensure that their systems are sophisticated enough to deal with such unsubscribe requests.  

Schools should not send unsolicited marketing texts as this is an offence which attracts heavy fines.  

Note: Schools should clearly understand that sending non-marketing text messages to parents will not fall under “direct marketing” (eg. school closures, weather alerts, school activities/events, parent/teacher meetings, pupil absences-alerting parents if pupil fails to attend on any given day, etc).  However, consent should still be collected for same.