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
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
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.