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Breach of information?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by AnotherDayAnotherHassle, Nov 21, 2019.

  1. AnotherDayAnotherHassle

    AnotherDayAnotherHassle New commenter

    I started a supply post in September, and to be honest, its not gone very well. I was really enthusiastic at the beginning, but I got a bad observation a few weeks in. My HoD has been supportive, and I had another observation, which she said was a good lesson. This made me feel better. I do like the school, and the students are generally good. The other staff are nice too.

    However, things have gone wrong again this week. I have a class with a child in whose behaviour isn't great - he's ADHD and struggles. I got an email from a parent complaining about this child and how it was disrupting her son's learning, and I responded by telling her that the other child has ADHD and can't always help it, but I follow behaviour policies.

    I was told by the HoY of that year today that the parent had called her complaining, saying that I'd told her that the other child couldn't help it because of his ADHD, and I'd not given her a satisfactory answer. The HoY said she was annoyed with the parent, but also that I shouldn't have told her about the other child's condition, as its disclosing confidential information. The HoY said she'd deal with it, but I might have to be asked about data protection. I feel like walking out. What should I do?
  2. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Established commenter

    There are two issues here. It seems to me that the other parent would not have been satisfied unless you told them this other child was going to be removed from the lesson or some other drastic action. A good standard answer for a situation like this would be along the lines of "I am aware that the other student is currently having some difficulties in class and we are looking a ways to support his learning to reduce the disruption other students may face."

    The second issue is that you have mentioned a specific condition about another student to the parent which you shouldn't have done as it is confidential. I doubt anything major will happen apart from the metaphorical slap on the wrist but you do need to be careful as to what you say in the future.
  3. 7eleven

    7eleven Senior commenter

    It was a mistake to reveal another pupil’s information. I would just hold my hands up to that, apologise and take with good grace any ‘training’ the school feels necessary.

    If the child is disrupting other pupil’s learning try talking to the SENCO for help in managing it.

    I’d think carefully before walking away from reliable work, unless you’re generally fed up with teaching and are ready to make a change?
  4. shevington

    shevington Occasional commenter

    I would have passed this on to the Head of Year or Deputy Head who have a lot more time to deal with such matters Suggest you send future e-,mail to such people.
  5. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I'm really sorry-my post is going to be frank.
    Some good advice already, but I'd be more emphatic.
    What you did was in fact wrong, and you need to confront that head on.
    ADHD is in certain cases a medical condition, and in all cases a matter of confidentiality to staff working with the child, and you really are not authorised to share those details with a parent. Honestly? It surprises me that you would not know that, and also that if you are with an agency you ought to have signed declarations that you would know about child data protection/safeguarding etc.
    It bothers me that you didn't respond to the parent that you are not authorised to discuss other children than their own, and that you referred to school policy rather than giving her something more concrete eg you'd sit them apart, you'd chat to their child, you'd monitor it, you'd pass on concerns, you'd arrange a meeting higher up.
    I know you did not intend this, but I think you left this parent feeling diminished when all you wanted to do was share an uncensored description of what was happening. That was not what she wanted though.
    These are all things that come with experience and training,and your first step ought to be to say to the school that you would like to talk through the correct response with a member of staff, or that you would like to do some training, maybe an online certiicate in GDPR, as it will incur minimal time input from them.
    If you are with an agency, you also need to consider whether they will be told or if you would like to talk to them about this, because there are schools out there who might make a big thing of it.
    Getting in there first might be wise, it might not. That, I do not know.
  6. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I would feel thwarted by this as a parent.
    This is all about the other child. In fact, you have just confirmed that you have a disruptive child who is bothering everybody. You have painted a worse scenario than even the parent presented. But what the parent wants to know is "how is my child going to progress?"
    The parent is worried about their child. Because they are the parent.
    "Thank you for sharing how your child has been affected by our current class dynamic, which is obviously a measure of how much he likes to engage with the subject. I shall make sure to talk to him before next lesson and we can arrange a better seat for him to make the best progress. Please pass on my thanks for his continued effort and focus, and I shall make a point of updating you on how he responds to the new seating if you request. I am sorry he was not able to come and talk to me directly, but please reassure him i am happy to chat with him if wants to discuss any aspects of my lesson out of class time. In the meantime please be reassured I shall pass on your concerns about the other child/ren to the appropriate pastoral team for their information"

    This also deals with the possibility that the parent is blind to their own child not pulling their weight. It's not unheard of.
    JohnJCazorla and sabrinakat like this.
  7. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter


    I'm not surprised the parent is annoyed. You essentially excused the child whose behaviour her son has complained about by telling her he is ADHD - which isn't a magical get out clause - and that you follow behaviour policies, which sounds defensive. She'll be thinking you clearly don't, as otherwise her son wouldn't be complaining.

    You need to talk to the SENCO about strategies, you need to talk to the HoY and also need to plan what you're going to say to parents in future. I'm concerned you want to walk out - surely staying and making the situation better, or at least to some resolvement, is a better strategy?

    Also, others are correct- a child's medical/SEND/family information is confidential and not to be shared.
  8. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I kind of regret my two earlier replies, in that OP wil inevitably feel discouraged at a thread of exclusively negatives,and my posts in particular are strident in this.
    What I ought to add is that the staff in this school, in particular the middle managers, seem really supportive and helpful,(although the leadership seems somewhat absent because of...well,various clues)
    Additionally you musn't forget the positive second observation, which will have it in your HoDs mind that if they see something a little less than ideal (ie your first observation), then you still keep going and do other stuff well.
    We've all had days when we feel like walking out, let's hope that today has already been better.
    agathamorse and Piranha like this.
  9. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    I have a stock phrase whenever parents start this. Just say, I am sorry Mrs Z, I cannot discuss another pupil with you. I also say this when parents ask about being first second etc
    in class.
  10. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Never, ever make any comment on another child/children.

    "Dear Parent, Thank you for taking the time to write to me. I am always seeking to improve my practice so I have forwarded your email to my HoD and we will see what we can do as a team to improve your son's experience at school.
    Weald56 and agathamorse like this.
  11. AnotherDayAnotherHassle

    AnotherDayAnotherHassle New commenter

    Thanks for the replies.

    I had a meeting today with the HoY and an Assistant Head. Yes, I did get told I was wrong to tell the other parent about the other child, and I apologised. The AHT said she knows being put on the spot by parents is difficult, but I need to be careful what I say, and not disclose personal details.

    The HoY has said she will come into the lesson to give some tips on how to manage the child, but also that she's spoken to the parent, and smoothed things over. I just feel deflated and upset. I really wanted to do well at this school but feel I can't do a thing right.
  12. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    Not doing anything right is when you're being constantly berated and shouted at for trivial things - handing books in 2 seconds late for a book check, not smiling at the HoD in the corridor, and being given really difficult classes and left to sink with them.

    OP - you made a mistake. The school is asking you to accept it and learn from it. Data breaches can be professionally and financially very costly. If you really want to go, do. But bear in mind that if the same thing happens at another school, they could be far nastier about it.
  13. Over_the_hill

    Over_the_hill Star commenter

    Don’t leave a school over this. We all make mistakes. You have learnt from it, now forget about it and move on. Try and enjoy your weekend. X
  14. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Beyond sympathising that you feel bad about this, you also need to look sharp-make a note of what was said in the meeting and by who, just a brief summary and send it to them. Thank them for the meeting, and ask if you have missed anything out. Say that you'll assume not if you have not heard back in two days.
    Then when you have the HoY come to your lesson, do the same thing-send notes and then state the rest the same.
  15. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    I've known of many people who've made exactly the same mistake. It's incredibly easy to do. Don't beat yourself up. It sounds as if the child in your class is making things quite hard for you. It's not surprising you might make the occasional bad call. Anyone would. Nobody is perfect.
  16. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Don't be daft. As my lovely head has pointed out to me rather too many times...people make mistakes.
    strawbs and (deleted member) like this.
  17. Over_the_hill

    Over_the_hill Star commenter

    I had a situation this week where a non-verbal child with SEND, in frustration, pinched another child’s arm, leaving a mark. He was taken out of class for the rest of the afternoon to calm down and made the child a lovely ‘sorry’ card. At home time I had to speak to the parent of the hurt child but just kept it very short ‘Billy was pinched on the arm by another child, but please let me reassure you that the situation been dealt with appropriately.’ Of course Billy’s dad is going to ask him which child it was and find the card in his bag but I haven’t given anything away myself. My point is, when other children are involved, it’s always better to say less.
    strawbs, mothorchid and CWadd like this.
  18. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    In my experience parents often 'know' that little Jimmy has (or is meant to have, or schoolyard gossip says this) a condition and may say that to a teacher anyway. Which puts the teacher in a difficult position.

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