1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Confidentiality issue

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by WinniePotter, Jun 14, 2019.

  1. WinniePotter

    WinniePotter New commenter

    I’ve recently been signed off of work with work related stress induced by a fair share of members of my leadership team. A letter was sent to my class’ parents detailing that I am off for personal reasons and that they have got a supply in who ‘actually wants to be’ there. My name is also spelt wrong twice and it has quite a negative vibe about how I have disrupted the children. I care a lot about the children and feel this both shares personal information and is unfair. This has been uploaded to the school website - should it be on there?
  2. vectis1

    vectis1 New commenter


    I can’t actually believe this. Can supposedly educated adults really act like spiteful children?

    As a parent I would be horrified and would consider pulling my kids out of the school. Not because of the teacher but because of the way they have been publicly humiliated.

    Of course it shouldn’t be there. It’s defamation of character. Contact your union ASAP. It needs to be taken down, ideally with an apology to yourself on the website.

    I’m honestly flabbergasted that people would behave so unprofessionally.

    Thinking of you.
  3. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    Should this be on the website?


    Should this have been written?


    I agree with @vectis1. If this is true, it's shocking.

    Union. Now.
  4. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Agree 100% with posts #2 & #3.
    agathamorse likes this.
  5. Piscean1

    Piscean1 Senior commenter

    That's horrifying. They may see your post.

    Have you saved a copy of the letter? And maybe screenshotted it in case they decide to remove it?

    Union. Immediately. I can't believe anybody thought this was an appropriate decision.
  6. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    That’s an absolute no no with regard to the ‘actually want to be there’ comment. Such a letter would certainly not be posted on the website as this would be linked to the teacher’s name indefinitely in a google search.

    If writing such a letter, it’s one which:
    Goes only to the parents concerned and is not in the public domain;
    Is as brief as it can be regarding teacher and cover- I’m writing to inform that ... is currently absence from school and that I have therefore arranged for ... to cover the class. I will keep you updated as and when I can, as I hear more information. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to come directly to me.

    I can understand being positive about the cover as parents worry but that’s along the lines of ‘We are fortunate to have secured ... an experienced teacher, who will provide a consistent person for the children during this absence.’ Absent teacher might feel a bit sensitive around positive comments regarding the temporary replacement, however parents need to be reassured that the cover will provide a good deal for the children.

    I usually put a line such as ‘due to confidentiality/ respecting privacy I am/ might not be able to detail all information , however will keep you updated as much as I am able to at the appropriate time.’ I might put (if in a gossipy context) ‘Please respect ... privacy by not speculating and come directly to me.’ There might be information that could be shared verbally but not written.

    It does depend why a teacher is absent and what the picture of length of absence / likely return picture is. Sometimes the teacher might say that the Head can share the reason for absence.

    Absence does cause disruption however you deal with it under appropriate policy and procedure. Sometimes, you might acknowledge this to parents in terms of their anxiety- I understand that you will be worried/ this might cause disruption however these are circumstances beyond our control. I’ve had parents critical for me not ‘acknowledging/ aplogising’ in such a letter. They felt just giving facts around cover felt dismissive of their worry and that it didn’t matter to me that there was a different teacher. However to a teacher who is worried about being absent, it could be read as saying he/she is causing disruption.

    It is a very sensitive issue and I know I run such letters by trusted leaders ahead of sending, to check for phrasing and how they might be interpreted by absent teacher, parents, unions and the cover teacher. If possible, I get the absent teacher’s view but this does depend on why they were absent and the level of contact at the time.

    Your school needs to remove that letter immediately from the website, if all reassurance to parents aspects aside, it comes across in any way negative about you. I’d advise getting a trusted person to read it- I know that I have heightened sensitivity when reading things about myself, particularly if I have less trust with regard to the author.
  7. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    "I'm sad to say that Ms Potter is unlikely to be coming back to work for a few weeks but we've been very lucky to engage Ms Smiley to take the class until Ms Potter's return so it's very much business as usual for 4P. I expect everyone to continue to do their best and have a very happy and productive last few weeks of the academic year."
  8. Lucilla90

    Lucilla90 Occasional commenter

    What an appalling situation. (Reminds me of when I was ill and the local supply agency advert came up for long term supply for my job, saying ‘with the possibility of becoming permanent’ before I had even officially asked to leave, then a friend from another area said they’d heard I was leaving).

    It’s hard enough to be ill, let alone being kicked when you are down. It’s so difficult to have the energy to address situations like this. I agree with all the good advice, above.

    Hope also that isn’t your real name , if so, change it. I agree your situation may be recognised, if anyone from school reads this, so maybe report to mods to get the thread removed, but hope you will post again for support.

    Best wishes for your recovery.
  9. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    This is unacceptable and libellous, and the following steps should be taken immediately by the school:

    - another letter should be sent to the parents of children in your class, making it clear that the reason for your absence is that you are unwell and apologising unreservedly for any impression given in the original letter that you did not want to be there;

    - the copy on the school website should be removed and

    - a full, written apology should be sent to you.
    Curae, jarndyce, agathamorse and 4 others like this.
  10. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    Screenshot, snipping tool get copies of it before it is taken down.

    This is extremely poor behaviour of the sort if YOU had done similar you would be in very hot water.
  11. Happygopolitely

    Happygopolitely Established commenter

    Union - but not your inhouse rep.

    The implication is that you 'do not want to be there' and is in inciting and encouraging complaints against you. Employers have a duty of care - and this is not on. If anything it will increase your work related stress.
  12. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    Union, of course and also take loads of copies, a screen shot, print out, a print page, save to PDF etc and call the ICO on Monday morning. They may have infringed your right to privacy and data protection laws by disclosing confidential data to third parties regarding to you, i.e. you are off for personal reasons and it's easy for the parents to identify you. Also prospective employers may be prejudiced by this information if it's left on the school's website. There is an issue in data protection regarding disclosing and handling confidential information and the appropriate handling of information. Was this information handled in accordance with data protection laws? Could this matter have been handled better? It's for the ICO to decide and if the school is found guilty, they may be fined by the ICO up to £500,000 and at a time when school budgets are stretched.

    What's also good about the ICO is that they name and shame offenders on their website.:p
    agathamorse, Stiltskin and Curae like this.
  13. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    Sorry did I read this right but your SLT has chosen to write an inappropropriate letter about your absence and has then posted on the Internet

    OK this is not only defamation of character but is cyber libel which is a more serious offense due to the speed and expanse of the Internet. Please report this ASAP to your union HQ and if need be you may well be advised to look for legal support although I do hope there will be no need for this.
    I am astonished and sorry that this has happened. There has been a, serious lack of judgement here and most worryingly these people are supposed to be looking after children. So act quickly.
  14. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    I do hope OP fights and wins this. Disgusting attitude of a very stupid SLT.
    agathamorse likes this.
  15. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    May have been emailed to parents or given to children (who have lost it) to give to parents. The information may be on the website, as many schools do this to save postage, i.e. a letter sent home with the child and a copy of the letter on its school's website under information.

    The most important thing is to get a copy of the said letter via subject access letter which can be downloaded from the ICO, and the school will have to respond within 30 calender's days.

    Although we all have rights to privacy etc., attempting to get them upheld often works to our detriment. If the OP pursues this, with the ICO, his union etc. he may be victimised for doing so and create even more problems for him/herself when not well.

    The Op states he has had SLT blues :( for a while, so this action may just be further PROOF of perhaps, harassment and if he has been harassed by SLT he states he has 'stress induced by SLT' in his post, then he may have protection from the anti harassment laws. If he is off sick, he may have protection from the Equality laws, if he has had his privacy violated, he may have protection from the Human Rights law and the Data protection laws, GDPR etc.

    It is always difficult when dealing with schools, but if the Op days are numbered at the school, it really is worth pursuing this to come out of this in a better place.

    If I was a Op, I would keep a note of the date that this letter was sent out, get a copy of it, if you can, and use it, if ever needed. Stating something about it now may rock the boat and we all know how extremely delicate SLTs can be.:rolleyes:
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
  16. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Screenshot/download/otherwise record what is currently there (I'd hope that any governor who sees it would be straight in touch with the head to tell them to take it down quick).

    Union - not school rep.
    agathamorse and Curae like this.
  17. 8sycamore

    8sycamore Occasional commenter

    Oh you can have fun with them now!
    Make sure your union rep is combative because they should wipe the floor with them!
    Sorry you're going through this.
  18. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    Yes... take them to the cleaners without dirtying yourself.
    agathamorse likes this.
  19. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    You have reasonable grounds to complain to the Head about how the letter was phrased and to ask for it to be taken down.

    But most of the advice given to you on this thread about your rights (other than by @starlightexpress and @sbkrobson ) is either not true or just misleading. Do not follow it unless recommended by your union. Consult your union asap.
  20. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    OK, long post from me. Skip it if tired.

    That's a funny old post.
    On the face of it your school has done something appalling.
    Or have they?
    Uploading parental letters is pretty much standard, in case some parents do not receive them or lose them.
    Stating you are off for personal reasons is really rather vague. The reality is that you are off sick, but it does not even state as much. "Personal reasons" could mean bereavement, illness, house emergencies, children problems. It gives very little away whilst also being truthful that you are absent as opposed to having left.
    Stating the supply wants to be there is encouraging for parents. Supply Teachers carry a stigma with them, a time earned precedent of not really being an encouraging state of affairs for parents. But one who wants to be there is a better deal for them.
    And for you to discern a "negative vibe" in the letter is really very nebulous- you don't back that up with a quote (I know, you can't really) but you are off with stress, and to see your absence alluded to in print and by a third party is an intrinsically uncomfortable thing. Presumably you too would prefer not to have to be absent. How do we know you are not reading negativity into it?

    The issue here for me is that you state you are off work because of specific colleagues. You've stated that publically, that certain colleagues have "induced" a state of stress related unwellness. And you are happy to state that publically.
    So if you are to "get somebody into trouble" for that letter, as suggested by numerous posts, then you could equally be got into trouble for posting as you did.

    You are off with stress. What are you doing perusing the school website? Why are you bothering yourself with school stuff at all?
    You need to know that if you are off with stress, yes, people will talk about it. If not, as perceived,in a school letter, then more so among themselves in the staff room. It happens.
    Therefore if you are off with stress you need to avoid all school contact. Stop peeking at the website, internally castigating your managers, questioning their description of a supply teacher who is actually keeping your stuff buoyant.
    Just focus on yourself, your needs, getting better. Looking away from that which is the source of your illness.
    Your post does not indicate you are attempting to do that, but that is what you need to do. Why others would suggest you spend your sick leave contesting something which would be bitterly fought, I really don't know.

Share This Page