OUR LADY’S CATHOLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL
Our Lady’s School is founded on faith in Jesus Christ and the life of the school community is centred on His presence.
At Our Lady’s School we believe that
the safety, well-being and protection of our pupils are the paramount consideration in all decisions staff at this school make about confidentiality. The appropriate sharing of information between school staff is an essential element in ensuring our pupils’ well-being and safety
it is an essential part of the ethos of our school that trust is established to enable pupils, staff and parents/carers to seek help both within and outside the school in order to minimise the number of situations when personal information is shared to ensure pupils and staff are supported and safe
pupils, parents/carers and staff need to know the boundaries of confidentiality in order to feel safe and comfortable discussing personal issues and concerns, including sex and relationships
the school’s attitude to confidentiality is easily understood and everyone should be able to trust the boundaries of confidentiality operating within the school
issues concerning personal information including sex and relationships and other personal matters can arise at any time
everyone in the school community needs to know that no-one can offer absolute confidentiality
everyone in the school community needs to know the limits of confidentiality that can be offered by individuals within the school community so they can make informed decisions about the most appropriate person to talk to about any health, sex and relationship or other personal issue they want to discuss.
To ensure that all information shared in confidence by pupils, parents/carers will only be used to enhance the safety, well-being and protection of our pupils.
Definition of confidentiality
Confidentiality is defined as ‘something which is spoken or given in private, entrusted with another’s secret affairs’. The confider is asking for the content of the conversation to be kept secret. Anyone offering absolute confidentiality to someone else would be offering to keep the content of his or her conversation completely secret and discuss it with no-one.
In practice there are few circumstances where absolute confidentiality is offered in our school. We strive to strike a balance between ensuring the safety, well-being and protection of our pupils and staff, ensuring there is an ethos of trust where pupils and staff can ask for help when they need it and ensuring that when it is essential to share personal information, child protection issues and good practice are followed.
This means that in most cases what is offered is limited confidentiality. Disclosure of the content of a conversation could be discussed with professional colleagues, but the confider would not be identified except in certain circumstances.
Staff should make it clear that there are limits to confidentiality at the beginning of the conversation. These limits relate to ensuring children’s safety and well-being. The pupil will be informed when a confidence has to be broken for this reason and be involved in the information sharing.
Different levels of confidentiality are appropriate for different circumstances.
1. In the classroom in the course of a lesson
Given by a member of teaching staff or an outside visitor including health professionals.
Careful thought needs to be given to the content of the lesson setting the climate and establishing ground rules to ensure confidential disclosures are not made. It should be made clear to pupils that this is not the time or place to disclose confidential personal information. When a health professional is contributing to a school’s health education programme in a classroom setting, they are working with the same boundaries of confidentiality as a teacher.
2. One-to-one disclosures to members of school staff
It is essential all members of staff know the limits of the confidentiality they can offer to both pupils and parents and carers and any required actions and sources of further support or help available both for the pupil or parent/carer, within the school and from other agencies where appropriate. All staff at this school encourage pupils to discuss different issues with their parents or carers and vice versa. However, the needs of the pupil are paramount and the school staff will not automatically share information about the pupil with their parents unless it is considered to be in the child’s best interests.
3. Disclosures to a counsellor, school nurse or health professional operating a confidential service in the school
Health professionals such as school nurses can give confidential medical advice to pupils provided they are competent to do so and follow the Fraser Guidelines (guidelines for doctors and other health professionals on giving medical advice to under 16’s). School nurses are skilled in discussing issues and possible actions with young people and always have in mind the need to encourage pupils to discuss issues with their parents or carers. However, the needs of the pupil are paramount and the school nurse will not insist that a pupil’s parents or carers are informed about any advice or treatment they give.
The legal position for school staff
All school staff should not promise confidentiality. Pupils do not have the right to expect they will not be reported to their parents or carers and may not, in the absence of an explicit promise, assume that information conveyed outside that context is private. No member of this school’s staff can or should give such a promise.
School staff are NOT obliged to break confidentiality except where child protection is or may be an issue, however at Our Lady’s School we believe it is important staff are able to share their concerns about pupils’ safety and well-being.
Teachers, counsellors and health professionals
Professional judgement is required by a teacher, counsellor or health professional in considering whether he or she should indicate to a child that the child could make a disclosure in confidence and whether such a confidence could then be maintained having heard the information. In exercising their professional judgement the teacher, counsellor or health professional must consider the best interests of the child, including the need to both ensure trust to provide safeguards for our children and possible child protection issues.
All teachers at this school receive basic training in child protection as part of their induction to this school and are expected to follow the school’s child protection policy and procedures.
Counsellors and health professionals
At Our Lady’s School we offer pupils the support of a school counsellor. This service is confidential between the counsellor or health professional and the individual pupil. No information is shared with school staff except as defined in the school’s child protection policy. This is essential to maintain the trust needed for these services to meet the needs of our pupils.
Non-teaching staff, visitors, parent helpers, work experience and teaching students
At Our Lady’s School we expect all non-teaching staff to report any disclosures by pupils or parents/carers of a concerning nature to the Designated Child Protection Co-ordinator (DCPC) as soon as possible after the disclosure and in an appropriate setting, so others cannot over hear. The DCPC will decide what, if any, further action needs to be taken.
Our Lady’s School believes that it is essential to work in partnership with parents and carers and we endeavour to keep parents/carers abreast of their child’s progress at school, including any concerns about their progress or behaviour. However, we also need to maintain a balance so that our pupils can share any concerns and ask for help when they need it. Where a pupil does discuss a difficult personal issue, with staff at Our Lady’s School, they will be encouraged to also discuss the matter with their parents or carers and may be supported to do so where it is appropriate.
The safety, well-being and protection of our pupils is the paramount consideration in all decisions staff at this school make about confidentiality.
Where there are areas of doubt about the sharing of information, Our Lady’s School will consult with the local area Safeguarding Board.
When confidentiality should be broken and the procedures for doing this
See the school Child Protection Policy. The school Designated Child Protection Coordinator is Miss Isabel Quinn and in her absence Mrs Julia Foster.
Support for staff
Staff may have support needs themselves in dealing with some of the personal issues of our pupils. At Our Lady’s School we prefer staff to ask for help rather than possibly making a poor decision because they don’t have all the facts or the necessary training, or taking worries about pupils home with them.
Staff should discuss any concerns with Miss Isabel Quinn.
Links with other policies
This policy has links with the following school policies
Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education
Sex and Relationships
This policy has been distributed to all teaching and non-teaching staff as part of whole school training on Child Protection/Safeguarding. A copy of the policy can always be found in the main policies folder. All new staff receive a copy of the policy when they join the school.
The final policy was agreed by the leadership team and the school’s governing body, and has been widely disseminated to staff, pupils, parents/carers and partner agencies. The policy is disseminated to all new staff joining the school.