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Document Marking and Secure Email

Document Marking and Secure Email


This page provides information and guidance about new systems for Document Marking and Secure Email that the Council is introducing.  It is planned that more detailed information will be made available in due course. 

If you have any queries, please contact perfdata@wokingham.gov.uk.

Document Marking

Wokingham Borough Council has implemented a new system of Document Marking.  This means that schools will receive documents and emails that are marked with one of the following:

  • UNCLASSIFIED / NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED: a document or email which contains no personal or sensitive information.  Emails will usually just have the word [UNCLASSIFIED] in the subject line.

  • PROTECT: a document or email which contains information which about which there is some sensitivity.  This relates to data that if it was disclosed, lost, stolen and misused might cause short-term inconvenience, harm or distress to an individual, cause financial loss, breach undertakings to maintain the confidence of information or breach statutory restrictions on the disclosure of information.

  • RESTRICTED: a document or email which contains information where a strict ‘need to know’ is required.  This relates to data that if it was disclosed, lost, stolen and misused might cause substantial inconvenience, harm or distress to individuals, substantial damage to the Council's reputation or have a significant financial impact on the Council. It is unlikely that schools will receive documents with this classification.

The Council is implementing Document Marking to ensure compliance with the Public Services Network code of compliance (previously known as GCSX).  Schools and Academies are responsible for their own Information Management protocols, so need to make their own decisions about whether to implement their own system of Document Marking.  Archived pages from the former government ICT advisory body ‘Becta’ at the link below still provide useful advice on this and other data management issues.


Secure Email

If the document or email is marked PROTECT or RESTRICTED and is sent by a WBC officer to a non-WBC email address, such as a school or Academy, as well as being marked, it should use a special new encrypted secure email system.  The first time a given school email address receives a Secure email from the Council, a special password has to be set up to enable it to be accessed.  Further instructions will be provided to schools as necessary, but essentially a link is provided to a special Secure Mail Centre where the recipient can view and download the email and any attachments.  The recipient can also reply to the email and add attachments securely if they wish.

Once the password has been set up, the next time a secure email is sent to this recipient by anyone from the Council, the same password can be used again.  Note however that if an encrypted email is sent from the Council to a different email address at the school, a new password will need to be set up.

To try to reduce the impact of lots of 'ad hoc' passwords being set up by different Council officers, a decision was taken to set up secure mail passwords centrally in advance for the three most commonly used school email addresses (head, finance and admin/office).  SENCO secure email accounts have now been added, using a new feature where users can manage their own passwords.

FAQs for Schools 

1. Why is the WBC secure email solution needed to send and receive sensitive and confidential emails and documents between WBC and third parties such as schools?

Normal email accounts send messages across the internet in plain text, and it is possible for messages to be captured en route – a bit like sending a postcard in the mail. Organisations have a duty under the Data Protection Act to protect personal and confidential information both at rest (e.g. on a laptop) and in transit (e.g. when sent via email).  Such information should be encrypted. Email encryption in a normal email system is difficult to achieve and requires a level of technical knowledge.

2. How does WBC Secure Mail work to provide security for confidential information

It provides a separate, secure, encrypted online mail box, where sensitive messages and documents can be stored securely by the sender and retrieved securely by the recipient, once they have been set up with an account by a member of staff in WBC. 

3.  Can schools use the WBC Secure Mail system to send emails to Wokingham Borough Council?

No, but they can reply to a secure email initiated by a member of staff in WBC, including attaching confidential files. The original sender from WBC can also add additional recipients to an email to exchange secure email with multiple parties. The school user will NOT be able to add additional recipients when replying – they would have to ask the WBC sender to add them. Schools will therefore have to ask the intended recipient at WBC to send them a secure email to start the conversation. Instructions for how to do this are at the following link (you will need to login using your school details to see this resource): Secure Email Support for Wokingham schools

4.  Can schools use the WBC Secure Mail system to send emails to other bodies, such as the NHS or parents?

Unfortunately this is currently beyond the scope of the system.  Because this is a system based on the wokingham.gov.uk domain, it isn't possible for schools to use it to send secure emails to other third parties. However we are looking into implementing a similar secure email system for Wokingham schools in the future. 

5.  What should schools do about sending secure emails to other bodies?

Each school needs to make a decision about their requirements for secure email, given guidance in this area from the ICO and others.  Where sensitive information is to be sent by email, measures should be adopted to ensure it is secure.  This might include password protection or some form of encryption using a system such as WinZIP or 7Zip.  However, it is becoming evident that there may be a need for schools to have access to a secure email system so we are currently examining different options that schools might wish to consider and hope to provide more guidance in due course. 

6. Is the WBC Secure Mail system the same as the DfE Secure Access (SA) system? 

No, the DfE SA system is a separate system to the new Secure Email system that WBC has recently introduced.  The DfE SA system is the DfE website that schools use to access COLLECT (for the submission of statutory data returns such as School’s Census), s2s (to transfer files between schools and the Local Authority) and Key2Success. 

7. I have forgotten my clue and passphrase – can I reset it or have it reset for me?

If you are a Head, Bursar or Admin, whose mailbox accounts were set up in Sept 2013, your mailbox has a fixed clue and passphrase which you cannot change yourself.  You can however ask for the clue and passphrase to be reset.  SENCO users set up in Spring 2014 will be able to reset their own password.

Head or Admin users:  please contact Hilary McLean in Childrens and Adult Services Reception - 0118 974 6105

Bursars:  please contact Diane Aldrich – 0118 974 6718

NOTE that if your passphrase is reset then any unopened mail will have to be re-sent to you.  Any mail that you have already opened will still be accessible however.

8. Can schools ask for other email addresses to be set up with Secure Email?

Any email address can be set up with Secure email by Council officers on an 'ad hoc' basis, but if schools have other email addresses that are commonly used to receive confidential/sensitive emails from wokingham.gov.uk accounts, please contact Hilary McLean in Childrens and Adult Services Reception - 0118 974 6105 and ask for the particular email address to be set up.

9.  I have been sent a form document from WBC which I have to fill in and return to WBC  – how do I do that?

To edit the form you will need to:

- Click on the secure link you received, and enter your passphrase, to open your secure mailbox
- Find the form document in your secure mailbox
- Save the form document to your computer
- Edit and save the completed form document on your computer
- Return to the secure mailbox (via the link you received), reply to the email and attach the edited version of the form

  • NB you cannot just open the form document and edit it in the mailbox – it must be saved and then re-attached

10. How long do documents remain in the secure mail store?

The length of time a document will be available depends on how your original account was set up, but will be a maximum of 90 days. If you need to retain the documents long term you should download them to your local system as they will not be kept in the secure mailbox indefinitely