DORCHESTER'S Thomas Hardye School's IT systems have been taken down by a cyber ransom attack.

The school, in a message to parents, says it will be working with partners, including the National Cyber Security Centre and the Police, to get the system working again as soon as possible.

It has not been operating throughout Monday and was still down on Tuesday. It is believed the system was hacked into during Sunday, May 21st and detected before school started on Monday morning.

Exams, which have just started, are not affected and the school says it will remain open with teaching methods being adapted, where necessary.

Anything which operates through the school server has been affected including payments in the canteen, pupil payments for other items which are based on finger print technology, electronic diaries, records and messaging.

The attack, which locks screens and systems,  involves a ransom demand payable on the Dark Web, which the school says it will not be doing.

Parents and carers of more than 2,100 pupils have been told that the school has no indication of how long it will take to restore systems.

A message from the headteacher, Nick Rutherford, to parents said: "We are in liaison with our school Data Protection Officer and this data breach has been reported to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) in line with requirements of the Data Protection Act 2018/GDPR. Every action has been taken to minimise disruption and data loss.

"The school will be working with Wessex Multi-Academy Trust, IT team and other relevant third parties (Department for Education, National Cyber Security Centre and police) to restore functionality and normal working as soon as possible.

"The school will remain open with teaching and learning being adapted accordingly.  Please be reassured that examinations will continue to run as normal with contingencies in place for those students who have access arrangements.

"I appreciate that this will cause some problems for parents/carers with regards to school communications and apologise for any inconvenience. Please use the telephone absence line to report student absence, as staff cannot currently receive emails. Please also telephone the school should you wish to report any concerns or speak to a member of staff.

"Staff will not have access to previous emails or online calendars, therefore, should you have made prior arrangements to meet with staff this week it may be worth phoning the school beforehand to check that our colleagues are aware.

We will continue to assess the situation and update parents/carers as necessary by Groupcall until our email is restored."

The school is part of the Wessex Multi-Academy Trust, with only minor affects on other schools which link into the Thomas Hardye system. It is said that none of them have suffered data loss in the way that Thomas Hardye has.

Attempt to reach the school internet platform continue to be met with a message saying "unable to connect" or "took too long to respond" indicating a problem with the website.