Teachers warned of online risk

Warning to teachers
Warning to teachers
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TEACHERS in Wigan are being warned about the dangers of revealing details of their personal life online.

The Wigan branch of the National Union of Teachers has produced a list of “do’s and don’ts” to help teaching staff avoid having problems using social networking sites.

It follows calls from teaching unions for every school to have rules about how teachers use sites like Facebook or Twitter.

Max Atkins, Divisional Secretary for Wigan NUT, said: “The NUT has produced guidelines for members on a range of e-safety issues.

“Due to a teacher’s unique position in the school and the wider community, there are “do” and “don’t” rules to keep them safe.

“This includes not posting information and photos about yourself, or school-related matters, publicly that you wouldn’t want employers, colleagues, pupils or parents to see. Teachers should not befriend pupils, ex-pupils, parents or other members of the school community, and should keep personal phone numbers private. Do not use your own mobile phones to contact pupils or parents.

“They should also ensure that school rules regarding the use of technologies are consistently enforced.

“And teachers should not personally retaliate to any comments made about themselves on these sites. Instead, report the incident to the appropriate member of staff.

“This is a good reminder to teachers of their position in society and how much more vulnerable they are than people in most other professions.”

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said new teachers were having problems because of using social networking sites.

The issues include staff being told off for what they have put online or being embarrassed by pupils who discover too much about their private life.

The NAHT wants every school to set out exactly what is and isn’t allowed.

Russell Hobby, of the NAHT, said: “Schools need to get up there and state things clearly. Otherwise teachers may be disciplined unfairly.”

Mr Hobby also said that many new teachers were caught out by how much they needed to change what they do online when they start work.

He added: “You’re used to a much more relaxed environment at university where what you say and do doesn’t matter so much.

“Then you’re suddenly into a place where you’ve got people expecting you to be role models.”