Confidentiality (school situation)


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Students often ask for 'confidentiality', but while teachers will always be discreet and
keep things private, they cannot usually promise not to pass the information on to anyone. This is because the law gives them heavy responsibilities as adults who have care of you. Peer Supporters are also bound by this code of confidentiality. 

In lessons, teachers should not put pressure on you to disclose personal information, and should discourage your fellow students from applying any such pressure. For example, they should want you to be careful when discussing sensitive or controversial issues such as those listed in the bullets below.

All personal information about you is regarded as private, and teachers will not pass it on indiscriminately (for example, they won't chat about you in the staff room). But they cannot offer you or your parents unconditional confidentiality: by law, teachers must pass on, to senior staff or to the people/agencies who have responsibility for such matters, information about behaviour or events likely to cause harm to young people. Where teachers have to pass on such information, or where they need to seek professional advice in order to help you, they will tell you what is happening, and who will have access to the information.

Depending on your age and maturity, teachers are not necessarily obliged to pass on information to your parents, though they will usually encourage you to seek support and help from them. For all young persons up to the age of 18, the school can inform parents if it seems reasonable to do so. While teachers should not guarantee confidentiality; they are not legally obliged to inform parents about subjects discussed with pupils, if they believe it is not in the best interests of the young people to do so. However, teachers must follow the instructions of head teachers in these situations.

In a survey carried out for FPA in 1994, most 13-15 year olds said that they would find it useful to talk to a teacher about matters such as contraception, but two-thirds would not do so if the teacher were likely to tell their parents. Teachers often take this into consideration when listening to pupils, and if you discuss your options with the teacher, they will very often respect your wishes wherever they can.

If a young person wants confidentiality, the only place the can have this is by talking to a doctor. 


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