Health & Safety Matters - E-Safety, Stress Audits
The use of IT in schools has brought many advantages, but alongside these go pitfalls that may cause problems for the unwary. A teacher needs to realise that careless use of IT can infringe on their privacy and make it hard to separate their professional and private life.
Keep your private contact information private
• Never use your own mobile phone or email account to contact parents or students. Apart from privacy, if you only use school email, you have evidence to show exactly what contact you have had with them.
• If you are on a school visit and need to use a mobile phone, ask the school to provide you with one. Keep a record of your phone's unique International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, keep phones secure while on school premises and report thefts to the police and mobile operator as soon as possible.
Keep Data Secure
• Make sure all sensitive data is secured by passwords and preferably encryption.
• Do not transfer data to memory sticks that can be easily lost or stolen.
• Be wary about taking laptops containing confidential student details out of school.
Protect Your Privacy
• Use school e-mail address only for work purposes.
• Be aware that, if you access any personal web-based e-mail accounts via their school network, that these may be subject to the school's internet protocol which could include monitoring and surveillance.
• If you post information and photos about yourself on social networking sites that you wouldn't want employers, colleagues, pupils or parents to see, make sure you know who can access the details. Remember that friends of friends may be pupils. Governors have been known to google members of staff. Do you want them to know what you did in Benidorm when you were a student?
Do not befriend pupils or parents of pupils on social networking sites. (You should consider carefully the implications of befriending ex-pupils.)
If you are a victim of cyber bullying of any nature, report it to the school authorities or the police as appropriate. Do not retaliate yourself and NEVER delete text messages or emails that might be used as evidence. Take a screen capture of material, including the URL or web address.
Leicester NUT has been campaigning for some time to make sure that stress is managed properly in schools. I would like to think that we have had a significant impact with this, but for stress management to be really effective, teachers have to play their part.
The first stage in stress management is always a stress audit. This should take place annually. Most schools now do this, but they often report that less than half of their staff completes the questionnaire. There are many reasons for this, including the jaundiced view that the school isn't serious about the process or concern about lack of confidentiality. I would urge all teachers to complete and hand in the form. If this doesn't happen, a school may claim that they don't have a problem with stress or that it's only a few whingers who are complaining.
After the audit has been analysed, the school management should discuss the results with the staff and produce an action plan to tackle any problems that have been identified.
If you have any concerns about the way your school is carrying out the process, please contact me at the NUT office.
Dates for Your Diary
School H&S Representatives training - 4th to 8th February 2013. NUT safety representatives who have not attended the course within the last 5 years are entitled to attend. Details and application forms are available from the NUT Membership and Communications Department on 020 7380 4837 or on www.teachers.org.uk/courses/representatives.
Midlands Region Annual H&S Conference – Wednesday 6th March in Birmingham. Please contact andyleicesternut.org.uk for more details.