Brighton Hill Community School

with specialist sports status

Brighton Hill Community School

with specialist sports status
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Home >> Information >> Policies >> 30. Information Sharing and Confidentiality

Published on - 12-02-2015

30. Information Sharing and Confidentiality

Objective – To ensure that all staff have a common understanding of information sharing and confidentiality when working with young people, their parents / guardians and fellow professionals.
This policy applies to all school staff and adults working with students on behalf of the school.
The lead manager for the application and monitoring of this policy is the Headteacher
Staff will be made aware of this policy through induction programmes; training opportunities; and
Staff meetings
It is imperative that professionals working with children share information when it is in the interests of the child / young person to do so.  This policy is developed from Hampshire Children’s Services “Information sharing and confidentiality policy” June 2008, and will be reviewed in light of any changes to the policy.

A - Key Points

  • The sharing of information should always be done in the best interest of the young person and his / her family.
  • All staff who have access to information about young people, have a duty to preserve confidence.  The individual’s right to confidentiality must be respected.  Personal information must be treated with care, and this means not disclosing it to people who do not need to know. In normal circumstances the consent of the subject of the information for disclosure and the consent of the provider of the information may also be required.
  • Irrespective of the age or maturity of the child or young person, if information is disclosed which indicates that the young person involved or another person is at serious risk of harm, then confidentiality cannot be preserved as safeguarding procedures must take precedence.
  • Children and young people have a right to confidentiality if there is no risk of serious harm to themselves or any other person, but staff are encouraged to support the young person talking to their parent/carers on all issues.
  • Young people and their parents/carers should be aware that information will not be shared about them without this first being explained to them, except in certain limited circumstances where they or another person is at risk of harm, or in the prevention or detection of crime.
  • If confidentiality is to be broken a record should be made of this to include: what information was provided and to whom; the reason it was shared; evidence that a thorough risk assessment was undertaken; who authorised the disclosure.
  • Information that should be kept includes the dates and times of any meetings, telephone conversations, letters sent and received with actual copies kept and face-to-face meetings.  In addition to this a short account of the nature of the discussion should also be kept.
  • If the young person is looked after more detailed information should be kept.
  • As young people mature they are able to take more responsibility for their own decisions about confidentiality.  The exception to this is where learning disability impairs an individual’s capacity to consent.
  • If the young person is Gillick competent or Fraser competent in the case of access to contraception, their decision overrides their parent/carer.

In UK law, a person’s 18th birthday draws the line between childhood and adulthood.  The right of younger children/young people to provide independent consent is proportionate to their competence.  In 1985 the criteria to establish whether a young person irrespective of age had the capacity to provide valid consent to treatment in specified circumstances, were approved by the House of Lords and became known as the Gillick Test for Gillick competence. This identifies children/young people under 16 who have the legal capacity to consent to medical examination and treatment, providing they can demonstrate sufficient maturity and intelligence to understand and appraise the nature and implications of the proposed treatment or action, including the risks and alternative courses of action.
Lord Fraser’s guidance relates only to confidential contraception and sexual health advice.

Contraception or Sexual Health Advice
Staff who have been approached by a young person for advice on contraception or sexual health must consider carefully whether that young person aged 12 or over, possibly younger in some cases is Gillick or Fraser competent.   To ascertain whether a particular young person on a particular occasion has sufficient understanding to consent, or refuse to consent to the sharing of information about them members of staff must consider:

  • Can the young person understand the question you are asking them, have used appropriate age and ability-related language or preferred mode of communication?
  • Does the young person have a reasonable understanding of: what information might be recorded/shares? The reason why this happens? The implications of information being recorded or shared?
  • Can the young person: appreciate and consider alternative courses of action open to them? Weigh up one aspect of the situation against another? Express a clear personal view on the matter as distinct from repeating what someone else thinks they should do? Be reasonably consistent in their view on the matter or are they constantly changing their mind?

B - Obtaining and Recording Information
Staff must make it clear to students that they cannot offer unconditional confidentiality
When talking with students it is important for them to maintain their professional boundaries.  Whilst being supportive where they can, distancing techniques should be used when appropriate, and students encouraged or supported to access confidential services.
Students should be warned that if there is a child protection issue where they, or others, are likely to be at risk of significant harm, staff are under a duty to follow safeguarding procedures and cannot offer confidentiality over a child protection issue. It is important that staff deal with this sensitively and explain to the student that they must follow the Child Protection Policy (Number 16).
Staff can only offer confidentiality to students on issues that do not involve significant illegal activities e.g. drug trafficking, arson.  If the conversation begins to move to this kind of issue they must be warned that confidentiality cannot be guaranteed.
In talking with students staff need to encourage them to talk to their parents/carers about the issue that may be troubling them and support them in doing this, where appropriate.
Health Services (doctors, school nurse and health drop-in) can offer confidential health services (including contraception) to students under the age of 16 providing they follow the Fraser Guidelines.
If the student is not considered to be Fraser competent consent to record and share information will be decided by those with Parental Responsibility.  If in doubt staff should refer to the CPLO. If parental consent is required one parent is sufficient but in the case of family conflict care should be taken as to which parent should be approached.
All reported cases of concern around under-16 sexual activity must be documented, including detailed reasons where a decision is taken not to share information.  This should be shared with the CPLO to decide whether there is a need to undertake a formal safeguarding investigation.

C – Sharing of Information
Information sharing must be done in a way that is compatible with the Data Protection Act; the Human Rights Act and the Common Law of Confidentiality.
Staff should consider who should receive the shared information and how much information it is necessary to share.
Information to be shared must be: accurate; up to date; necessary for the purpose it is being shared; shared only with those people who need to know; shared securely. (Do not mention the name of an individual in an e-mail header, phone someone if you are about to send a confidential fax, mark envelopes Confidential and For the Attention of XXX)
The subject of the information and, if different, the provider of the information should generally be told of the sharing if it is safe to do so.

D – Peer Support and Mentoring Projects
Students involved in peer mentoring will undergo training on Confidentiality prior to any work involving other students.  They will be supervised and monitored by the School Counsellor. 

E – Student Support Worker / Welfare Assistant
The Student support or welfare officer may be approached by students for a confidential discussion.  Confidentiality cannot be offered over a child protection issue.  Sometimes it is necessary for a student to be able to talk about deep-seated troubling issues in order to help them through their situation; we do not require the counsellor to inform the line-manager about illegal activities unless there is a child protection issue or other significant risk.

F- Parents and Families
Sometimes there may be family issues which might affect a student and which the family will only disclose if they can be sure the information will be treated confidentially.  We will respect the wishes of the family and where it is felt necessary to share the information given to us, this will be discussed with the parent first unless a student is considered to be at immediate risk and/or there is an overriding child protection concern.
Linked Policies
Anti-bullying policy    Health and Safety
Child Protection    Safeguarding policy

Hampshire Children’s Services – Information Sharing and Confidentiality Policy June 2008, this document contains a list of National and Local References.

The monitoring and review procedures for this policy are as follows:-
Headteacher / CPLO will annually review this policy to ensure that it is up-to-date with current legislation.  Monitor concerns regarding confidentiality.

Ratified: October 2013

Under review: April 2015



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