In schools we ask parents and carers for a variety of information so that we are able to care for children as effectively as we can while they are with us. However, we can only ask for information which is directly relevant – for example:
● health or medical information
● records from previous schools
● records for children who have special educational needs.
This is confidential information and must be used only for the purpose for which it was gathered. If the information needs to be passed on to others for any reason, parental consent will need to be given. This usually involves parents signing a consent form.
Under the Data Protection Act 1998, any organisation which holds information on individuals needs to be registered with the Data Protection Commission. This is designed to ensure that confidential information cannot be passed on to others without the individual’s consent. There are eight principles of practice which govern the use of personal information. Information must be:
● processed fairly and lawfully
● used only for the purpose for which it was gathered
● adequate, relevant and not excessive
● accurate and kept up to date where necessary
● kept for no longer than necessary
● processed in line with the individual’s rights
● kept secure
● not transferred outside the European Union without adequate protection.
You will need to be aware of a range of information in your role as a teaching assistant, from issues around the school to the individual needs of the children with whom you work. You should know how and when to share any information you have access to. If you are at all concerned or unclear about whom you can speak to, your first point of contact should be your line manager, or in the case of children with special educational needs (SEN), the SENCO. Many teaching assistants working in schools are also parents of children at the same school, and other parents may sometimes put pressure on them to disclose information. You should not...