Discussing confidential matters with a student

When discussing sensitive matters with a student, your discussions should be treated as confidential.

Sharing information

Some confidential issues will need to be shared with other named contacts and/or specialist services. If you are unsure about whether an issue should be kept confidential, or would like further advice on an issue, you can seek guidance from the Student Services Hub or your senior tutor anonymously in the first instance.

Gaining consent

Some support services (such as disability and wellbeing services) can only pass on information once a student has given signed consent and agreed who they would like their information shared with.

Record keeping

All appropriate written records should be stored securely and out of plain sight of other people.

Boundaries and expectations

It is good practice to establish boundaries from the start. The key to this is to set out expectations – both yours and your students. Where students are experiencing difficulties outside of your experience and expertise, it is important to utilise support services that can offer specialist help. Boundaries to consider include:

  • how quickly you will respond to email
  • what you can offer and what is offered centrally
  • the best way to arrange a meeting
  • when you are and are not available (There is no expectation that you should be available outside normal working hours)
  • how long meetings will last

Expectations

When discussing or arranging to discuss a confidential matter, you are expected to:

  • within reason, accommodate your students requests for meetings
  • be available when you say you will be
  • keep conversations confidential wherever possible
  • have an appreciation of equality and diversity matters
  • keep up-to-date on support services available to students so that you can make appropriate referrals

You are not expected to have specialist pastoral support skills to offer counselling, specialist advice or ongoing emotional support. You should be able to expect your students to:

  • attend scheduled meetings (and give notice if they won’t be attending)
  • contact you if they need meetings beyond scheduled departmental provision
  • ask questions you can easily answer and others that will require you to direct them towards specialist services

Sending group emails

You may wish to send an information email to a number of students. Please ensure that you use the ‘bcc’ facility available in Outlook or send each email separately. Any contact with students should be individual and the recipient should not have access to the names of other students.

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Help and support

Our Student Services Hub provides advice, information and guidance on a range of health and wellbeing issues to help you support students.