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Ex pupils and Facebook...

Discussion in 'Personal' started by fantastischfish, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    Hi everyone, I'm looking for some opinions.

    I have a Facebook page, which pupils have been able to find as a result of searching on the site. My profile is protected by security settings meaning the pupils can see my name and may send a request to 'add me' subject to my agreement, but that is all.
    I have never accepted pupils' friend requests in the past; I've always deleted them and then spoken to the pupils in school the following day to tell them not to contact me via Facebook. On one occasion, and pupils contacted me during the school holidays asking if she could tell me a secret; I said no, that I'd have to pass on information she gave me and would have to inform the school that she had contacted me on FB. She went on to make a disclosure, so I informed the LA's child protection person.
    However, I had accepted the 'friend requests' of a few pupils from 2 or 3 years ago. I've set my profile so that they can't see very much (e.g they cannot view my photos, nor see my updates/status). Basically, they can see my name and profile picture, and may send me a message every once in a while.
    I grew bored of having to go through all the security settings each time I 'added' a pupil, so I decided to make a Facebook group for my ex-pupils to join - I'm leaving the school at the end of term and I've love to hear occasionally how some pupils are doing.
    The group I've set up allows pupils to join, after I have approved them, and allows them to leave message on the 'wall' but without being able to access my page directly nor send me a private message.
    However, I've recently read a GTC in investigation during which a teacher was reprimand for having contact with pupils on Facebook even after the pupils have left.
    What do you think about this? I appreciate that not everyone's an FB fan and therefore some may view this as a blessing. However, is there anything wrong with a teacher receiving/sending the occasional message from an ex pupils on FB? I've received a message from a pupils regarding a disclosure (which I appropriately passed on; the poor kid obviously needed someone to confide in during the hols, so found and contacted me), but have also received the odd message asking for advice from student taking my subject at A level, and once a child wanting to send me some artwork she'd done, as I'd always been a fan of hers whilst she was at school.
    Do you think that contact with ex-pupils is a no-no mattter what?
  2. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    God, post written in sleepless state on phone so typos galore! My apologies.
  3. Um - let me think... well now... Yes.
  4. Sorry - to clarify - on Facebook, etc. Why can't they contact you at school?
  5. It depends on the situation- I am friends with an ex pupil in a bizarre way- we go to one of the same groups. She is 23 and the same age as some of my friends. I don't teach at the school anymore... but it is quite odd.
    My husband is friends with some of his ex-teachers.
  6. We are told that we are not allowed to have ex-pupils as friends until they are 18. County policy
  7. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I'm leaving my current school. It just got me interested because I saw the gtc case where someone was disciplined for keeping in touch with students via Facebook after the teacher had left the school. Now, whilst I don't particularly like the idea of adding school aged students to my friends list, I don't actually see what's so serious that it requires gtc intervention, providing that the teacher made sure that all contact was of an appropriate nature (i.e. no sharing of photos, no inappropriate language etc). I personally wouldn't want even ex pupils to be allowed freedom to poke around my profile, but I'd be up for making a group where ex pupils could keep in touch but not actually see my profile. I know some wouldn't agree with that BUT why would it warrant gtc involvement?
  8. gergil4

    gergil4 New commenter

    Check your LA/school policy, and if in doubt wait until they're 18 as another poster suggested.
  9. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    I don't use FB myself so the issue never arises for me. One thing to consider though - you appear to be considering each ex-student in isolation, but they too have networks of friends and/or siblings who may still be current students, or who may know current students, so any info you exchange or reveal will find it's way back to school whatever.
  10. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    Again, just to clarify, I'm not asking for myself but more as a general question. Once a teacher and/or a student had left school why can't they keep in touch if they want to? Assuming the contact is appropriate given pupils' ages etc? Just wondering why the gtc would discipline for that.
  11. anon8315

    anon8315 Established commenter

    I can only assume perhaps the conduct was inappropriate?
    I'm worried now as I am in an identical position to you Eva and would also like to stay in touch. I have some students from a previous school on mine but they are all from my form group (who were year 11 when I left) or sixth form classes so are all over 18 now anyway.
    Perhaps I will contact the GTC and ask?
  12. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    I'll add ex-students if I know them AND I used to teach them, but not if I know them BECAUSE I used to teach them.
  13. DM

    DM New commenter

    Why take the risk? Do you really need to know what students who once spent a few dozen hours in your classroom are now doing on a day to day basis? I have a vague interest when ex-students graduate or get sentenced to a long stretch but I can find out about that in the local paper.
  14. catherinaaa

    catherinaaa New commenter

    I'm in my late twenties and have 2 former teachers as FB "friends". Am now a teacher myself. I think I'm beyond the age where it can be seen as a problem!
  15. I think the worry is how you would prove yourself innocent should allegations of impropriety be made. It makes sense for you to be the moderator of the type of group you describe but it also means you could be accused of just deleting incriminating conversations...and then there's the can of worms which is the chat/IM function.
  16. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    TBH once the 'ex-pupils' have left school and are at least 18 there is no problem. I was contacted by an ex-pupil who is now on my friends list. He is 23 and I was his tutor for just one year....year 7. No problem. I jave a few other ex-pupils from other schools as friends. All are over 18 and some are friends of my own children as I taught for a year at my children's school. Come to think of it, I taught my own children, they are ex-pupils so I could take this literally and not have my own kids as FB friends!
    What a load of old nonsense!
  17. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    I appreciate your comments and know that a lot of people will feel that way. Put isn't it possible that a teacher and a student may actually become friendly once the student has left school and/or the teacher has left the school that student attended?
    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for protecting oneself and I do feel a duty to ensure that even ex-students retain a sense of respect for me as someone who was responsible for them at one point (e.g. I wouldn't allow an ex-student, should I have added them on FB, to view all of my photos where I might be a bit drunk and bleary eyed, or at a hen party like those primary teachers that were in the news a while back!). However, isn't it perfectly possible that once the teacher/student relationship is over, the same people may actually become friends?
    I'm just pondering here. I'm sure the earlier poster was right when they suggested that the teacher who was disciplined by the GTC probably had inappropriate contact with their ex-student. I was just wondering what is considered inappropriate once the student and/or the teacher has left the school. Is is inappropriate just to have an ex-student as a friend on FB in the first place? I'd personally argue that it isn't, provided that the teacher ensures that any aspects of their profile that may be inappropriate (e.g. certain photos, certain language etc) are hidden from the student.
    I'm just wondering what exactly the GTC disapproved of, I suppose.
    A colleague I discussed this previously worked at a school that USED Facebook as a modern means of communicating with students. There were accounts set up using school email addresses where teachers could create groups for their classes and therefore send a message to all group members regarding work etc. Now, I think this is dodgy ground and the potential for abuse is huge. But if managed correctly, I think it could work. I know, I know, homework can be written in planners and why do we NEED all this technology etc. But moving with the times....it could be really useful. And if pupils are carrying their iPhones around (why do they always have better phones that most of the teachers?!) why not appeal to them by using technology effectively?
  18. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    As I said - I add them if I know them AND I used to teach them. Not BECAUSE I used to teach them.

    I know a couple of ex-students through music groups and walking groups - it's natural to add them, surely?
  19. littlemissraw

    littlemissraw Occasional commenter

    I have a seperate profile set up for my Uni students to get help on, a few students from my old school have added me (my real profile is unsearchable unless they know a friend of mine) and I've let them,all that gets posted in coursework deadlines, places for work experience, relevant links relating to the Uni course etc.
    Don't think I'd let them on my 'real' profile until they hit their 20's just so theres limited chance of them knowing current pupils, always the worry FB will change security settings and they may see things you don't want them too. x
  20. Why not create a page "Past students of X" and then students can "like" the page and then see anything you or anyone else says on the wall and stay in touch but they cannot see anything on your personal profile other than what your profile settings allow.
    I have also set up two profiles - a personal one and a work one!
    Our FE college has just released a Social Networking policy and as a result I have had to remove a number of friends who I have known for a large number of years due to previous dance school occupation but have now reached the stage of joining our college!

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