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MIS Systems Thread, Behavioural Comments in Technical; We're currently reconfiguring our behaviour management system and I'm writing some recording rules to accompany it. When describing an incident ...
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    Behavioural Comments

    We're currently reconfiguring our behaviour management system and I'm writing some recording rules to accompany it. When describing an incident teachers have free text to describe it and I'm looking to provide some guidance about what should be written. Things such as sticking to the facts, no supposition etc.

    At some point in the future we'd like parents to receive notifications of behaviour incidents and some of the comments I've seen written on our current system could be described as inappropriate at best!

    Does anyone have any rules or guidance about what should and shouldn't be recorded when commenting on incidents?

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    vikpaw's Avatar
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    I believe SIMS if you use it, provide some guidance which came about when the feature to show behaviour to parents online was enabled.
    I think one of the key things is not to mention other children by name in group incidents.

    Perhaps something that describes what you want e.g. a short, factual summary should be written, not reference any one pupil by name.

    Though not answering your question the publicly available policies here are a pretty awesome example of a well established behaviour policy Secondary | Sanctions | The British School of Kuwait
    Last edited by vikpaw; 5th July 2012 at 10:06 AM.

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    tombry's Avatar
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    that's a school that doesn't mess around!

    I'm trying to get our comments more uniform as well - on top of that I'm trying to get staff to understand how helpful it would be if they actually added comments to all incidents, as "continual disruptive behavior" doesn't really tell me anything when the parent calls up wanting to know why Johnny has a detention.

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    For less confident schools, SLG has a number of control options. These include don't show anything before a date, only show dates & behaviour type through to show full detail.

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    EdWhittaker's Avatar
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    Hi
    Regarding teacher comments, the accepted ground rules are pretty clear - whether it's written comments or you're talking directly to parents or pupils:
    Describe what you saw, not what you think you saw. e.g. 'I saw him remove the pencil from the desk', not 'I saw him steal the pencil'.
    Describe the behaviour, not the child. e.g 'He was chatting when I was talking'. not, 'He is a nuisance in class'.
    Use dispassionate and professional language. e.g. 'This is the third time I've had to speak to him about this.' not, 'I'm sick of his stupid behaviour'
    Finally; don't write down anything wouldn't say to the parent's face!

    If your school is considering relaying teacher comments directly to parents, without moderation, then I say good luck to you. I suspect the policy will be reviewed rather quickly. Put it this way, we have lots of schools using our behaviour application and it does have direct reporting to parents. Schools have the option to display just basic details (lesson, subject, teacher etc) or to include the teacher comment as well. I can tell you that there isn't one, not a single one, of our schools that has opted to display the teacher comment.

    If you want some more advice or training material on how to word behaviour reports I can send you some material that I've prepared for staff training in the past.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EdWhittaker View Post
    If your school is considering relaying teacher comments directly to parents, without moderation, then I say good luck to you. I suspect the policy will be reviewed rather quickly. Put it this way, we have lots of schools using our behaviour application and it does have direct reporting to parents. Schools have the option to display just basic details (lesson, subject, teacher etc) or to include the teacher comment as well. I can tell you that there isn't one, not a single one, of our schools that has opted to display the teacher comment.
    It's a false sense of security given that a request under the data protection act would see that data released to parents.

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    EdWhittaker's Avatar
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    Actually, you're wrong there. Firstly, you can only demand access to data which is about you, not someone else. Thus a parent has no right to any data about their child unless it is apparent that the child is too young or does not have the mental capacity to understand what is going on. In Scotland it is assumed that children normally have this capacity from the age of 12. Although there is no corresponding legal age in England, this gives a guideline to what is deemed reasonable. Hence parents would not be able to demand access to their child's behaviour record if the school considered that the child was mature enough to make that decision themselves. Secondly, nobody has the right to demand to see any data which may refer to a third person without that person's permission. In this case, that person would be the teacher who wrote the report; or it may be that another child is named in the report. If by reading the report the parent would be able to identify the teacher or the other child or whoever, then the parent cannot see it without the permission of those parties. Thirdly, the teacher who writes the report is, by definition, the controller of that data and again the teacher would have grant permission before that data information can be disclosed.
    It not as simple as it first seems.
    Last edited by EdWhittaker; 23rd August 2012 at 03:00 PM. Reason: added detail

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    I don't believe I am wrong. Schedule 11 sets out a parents right to access to their Child's educational record. Behaviour information recorded by a teacher would fall under this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EdWhittaker View Post
    Actually, you're wrong there. Firstly, you can only demand access to data which is about you, not someone else. Thus a parent has no right to any data about their child unless it is apparent that the child is too young or does not have the mental capacity to understand what is going on. In Scotland it is assumed that children normally have this capacity from the age of 12. Although there is no corresponding legal age in England, this gives a guideline to what is deemed reasonable. Hence parents would not be able to demand access to their child's behaviour record if the school considered that the child was mature enough to make that decision themselves. Secondly, nobody has the right to demand to see any data which may refer to a third person without that person's permission. In this case, that person would be the teacher who wrote the report; or it may be that another child is named in the report. If by reading the report the parent would be able to identify the teacher or the other child or whoever, then the parent cannot see it without the permission of those parties. Thirdly, the teacher who writes the report is, by definition, the controller of that data and again the teacher would have grant permission before that data information can be disclosed.
    It not as simple as it first seems.
    Along with the Section 11 access to a child's record, your point about referring to a third person is incorrect also. If a school is requested to release data which contains information about a third person, they can either get permission from that person (which would be included in school policy documents, which form part of all school staff contracts), or they can redact the information to hide that information (similar to how a court refers to people as random letters when hiding their identify).

    Also, a teacher is not the controller of information just because they generated it. The school owns that information, and will have various roles defined within its policies. The controller is usually someone like the Head Teacher, Bursar or Data Manager etc...

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    The controller is usually someone like the Head Teacher, Bursar or Data Manager etc...
    IIRC The DPA guidelines indicate that the Head of School is the defacto Data controller until they "actively" delegate that role to another individual.
    So even if the Head is utterly unaware of how their MIS works, if they haven't told someone else to take responisbility "they" are the Data cotnroller for all information entered into the MIS (or affiliate system).

    But otherwise localzuk is correct it is usually one of those mentioned.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnCondon View Post
    IIRC The DPA guidelines indicate that the Head of School is the defacto Data controller until they "actively" delegate that role to another individual.
    So even if the Head is utterly unaware of how their MIS works, if they haven't told someone else to take responisbility "they" are the Data cotnroller for all information entered into the MIS (or affiliate system).

    But otherwise localzuk is correct it is usually one of those mentioned.
    Indeed. The same goes for any other responsibility in reality - its all the Head's job unless he delegates it, and even then, it still falls into his lap if something goes wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcstru View Post
    I don't believe I am wrong. Schedule 11 sets out a parents right to access to their Child's educational record. Behaviour information recorded by a teacher would fall under this.
    Agreed, the teacher's comments form part of the pupil record. But, unless I'm missing something, schedule 11 just defines what constitutes an educational record; I can't see any reference to right of access. I have previously discussed exactly this matter with staff from the DCO and I'm going off what I've been told by them. But what this does go to show, and what they actually suggested, is that the actual legal position is not at all clear.

    Getting back to the OP, if the teacher comments are retained in school and the parent does demand access then at least it can be 'reviewed' and inappropriate comments removed or names redacted. If the comment goes straight out, that's it there's nothing you can do about it.

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    Another reason to withhold teacher comments is that very often they are written in the heat of the moment and things might be written that the teacher doesn't really mean, just venting their anger and frustration.

    Whatever the legal or other arguments, my advice would be don't send teacher comments out unmoderated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EdWhittaker View Post
    Agreed, the teacher's comments form part of the pupil record. But, unless I'm missing something, schedule 11 just defines what constitutes an educational record; I can't see any reference to right of access.
    The right of access is part of the Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005 (Amended 2008). Actual requests may be made under the provisions of The Data Protection Act.
    Last edited by pcstru; 23rd August 2012 at 04:01 PM.

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    @EdWhittaker just to add to the clear responses from @localzuk, @JohnCondon and @pcstru

    There are a number of roles within information management and we should not confuse specific data controller roles of Senior Information Risk Officers / Data Protection Officer with other roles (ie the role allocated which has the legal and policy responsibility within the school ... and if no person is published with this role in their job description and / or on the ICO's Register then it will indeed be the Head Teacher according to DPA and The Education Act 2011 ... an Act which makes references and amendments to many preceding Acts). Data controller does not have to be a single person and there can be joint data controllers. For example (given by ICO) CCTV in a town centre might have the joint data controller of the Council and the Police.

    The Data Asset Owner is usually the person(s) who have responsibility delegated to them to deal with particular types or classes of data to be processed. A data creator is someone who may create data and information about a data subject (either from scratch or by reprocessing existing data / information) and they do so in accordance with policies and practice as set out by data asset owners, polices and practices which are ratified / authorised by the SIRO (as the specifically nominated Data Controller).

    The age of ownership of data within the EU is debated but is considered to be either older than 12 or the age of 13 and the semantics of the discussion is based around whether you consider the present EU guide about being older than 12 years to be 12 years and 1 day or to be 13.

    As already mentioned, the school has a duty of care which will require the release of data and information to parents unless there is a specific instruction not to. These frequently come from court orders and those with experience of Looked After Children will have had to deal with these. It may even be that the LA takes the role of Corporate Parent and is given access to the data / information.

    Teacher comments cannot / should not be moderated unless it involves releasing information in which the recipient has no right to receive. An example would be the obfuscation of the name of another child involved in an incident. If a teacher puts in an unsuitably worded comment then this is not a reason not to release the data / information.
    Last edited by GrumbleDook; 23rd August 2012 at 04:36 PM. Reason: clarification of roles names

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