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Teachers warned on perils of social networking sites
11:39am Tuesday 7th August 2012 in News
GUIDANCE is being issued to East Lancashire teachers about the risks of using social networking sites.
Lancashire County Council has issued guidelines to staff to avoid forming 'on-line friendships' with pupils on sites such as Facebook , Bebo and MySpace.
It comes after more than 40 teachers nationally were referred to the General Teaching Council in 2011 for unprofessional conduct related to the inappropriate use of social media sites.
Lesley Ham, the NASUWT union's negotiating secretary for Blackburn with Darwen, said teachers were falling foul of the rules as they do not use the privacy settings available.
She said: “It's been a problem for a few years. People are entitled to a private life but they need to use privacy settings on these sites.
“It is unwise to engage in social media with pupils.
“Staff have got into problems where they have been open on things like Facebook. They have been off ill and published pictures where they had been on a day out.
“There could be a low level aggrievance where somebody has had a drink, lost their temper and published derogatory comments about a colleague.
“At the other end of the spectrum, which are less frequent, are a member of staff engaging with a pupil. Those can lead to suspensions.
“We have not seen it this year, but there have been cases in the past.”
Staff are advised not to conduct or portray themselves in a manner which may bring the school into disrepute, be derogatory towards the school and its employees, be derogatory towards pupils or parents and carers and bring into question their appropriateness to work with children and young people.
It also urges staff not to form on-line 'friendships' with parents, carers and pupils and communication with former pupils, especially under 18, should be 'strongly discouraged'.
County Coun Susie Charles, Cabinet Member for Children and Schools, said: “We have provided all schools with our own advice based on the government's Guidance on Safer Working Practices for Adults who work with Children and Young People.
“And in addition we are supplying all schools with hard copies of the guidance.”
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