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What's the deal with online comms - between parents or teachers?

(19 Posts)
Strella Wed 22-Jul-15 20:00:08

I'm a bit confused about this.

I have two genuine questions if anyone's got a moment.

First question - are teachers with twitter accounts supposed to post stuff that would be considered mildly offensive/swearing/that sort of thing on there?

I don't know, and I'd like to know partly due to the second question.

Which is, when a 'private' email network exists between parents of children in a class, is this subject to any protocol regarding what the parents post to one another?

We have a situation where a parent posted something about a teacher - just a general opinion - and the HT was informed (don't know who by) and responded quite angrily.

I'm interested in what is considered OK and what isn't. Chances are he is in the right on both counts but I don't know how this sort of stuff is generally dealt with.


Llareggub Wed 22-Jul-15 20:08:49

I'm not a teacher but I've always used social media and emails on the basis that they aren't private and once sent I have no control over them.

Teachers who are offensive or use inappropriate language on Twitter would sensible to tweet as anonymously as possible.

Rosieposy4 Wed 22-Jul-15 20:13:40

I use my twitter account only for school stuff ( our school loves it!)
My fb is totally private and locked down, we have a no pupils as friends rule and even so i only post stuff that i would be happy for my head to see.

saintlyjimjams Wed 22-Jul-15 20:16:15

Parents communicating amongst themselves, whether online or face to face, is none of the head's business surely?

Strella Wed 22-Jul-15 20:24:25

I should say I'm not a teacher.

Yes my understanding was that private emails between parents - even if CCd to a list - were not a public forum as such and therefore if someone expressed a pretty much inoffensive, though negative, view of a certain teacher, this wasn't something the HT (who was not copied in - nor were any staff) would not have a right to object to.

I could be wrong.
The twitter account is public, obviously, and is under their real name, with a photograph and mentions the school in various tweets though not by name.

Strella Wed 22-Jul-15 20:25:02

The school has a separate account.

Happy36 Wed 22-Jul-15 20:29:28

For the first thing, it depends if the Twitter account is affiliated to the school in anyway. If it is the teacher's personal Twitter, then he or she can post what they wish.

For the latter, the parent e-mail network provided by the school, the school should have clear, public, written guidelines of what can and can't be posted. If you are part of this network, ask for a copy of the guidelines and then go back and ask if any part of them is unclear.

In my limited experience, some schools have been slow to deal with the "rules and regulations" side of social media, getting excited to jump on the bandwagon without realising all of the grey areas.

Scissor Wed 22-Jul-15 20:34:05

Twitter, level of post 9pm sweary comedy level language, not so much of an issue. Prob better if more anonymous but they are entitled to be real people, eg tweeting, general trying to be funny, slightly pissed off stuff. Not necessarily a great professional move and may be against policy of school so may be reprimanded, not likely to be an offence in law.

Forum where community is colluding in slander/personal attack...we have had teacher victim of this due to heritage and was Police reportable, taken extremely seriously and frankly a very different thing. Slander, making personal unverifiable attacks on another person are completely unacceptable.

It's the personal nature that I find the problem...twitter comment along the lines of day at work, is very different beast to Mr/s X is a

Strella Wed 22-Jul-15 20:35:11

Thank you - yes, it is a personal twitter account but very public and very easily identifiable. I would have thought he ought to make it private if he wants to post sweary type things though. Just to protect his own reputation really.

The email network is not set up or provided by the school; it was organised by a parent in order that we can communicate between the class parents, for purposes such as discussing trips or school council or opinions on dinners etc.

He is not on the list and there are no guidelines. Several items of note have been communicated to him recently and no one knows how or by whom.

I don't think he has any business telling parents what they can and cannot say to one another in thie format but I don't know what the 'rules' are.

Strella Wed 22-Jul-15 20:37:39

Cross posted Scissor, yes, I see what you mean.

It wasn't an attack as such. It was a comment on the fact they were unhappy with him as a teacher, given as a reason for moving classes - nothing sinister or orchestrated and no one even replied to it.

It was the sort of comment you know the person would say to the HT's face if required. No swearing, or name calling, in fact nothing much at all.

Strella Wed 22-Jul-15 20:42:58

Just to add, I wouldn't have made such a comment myself, not to a wide audience. I think it was indiscreet; the thing is though what could the HT do about it in any case?

People make personal remarks and comments in the playground all the time. It isn't usually an incitement to victimise, bullying, or anything like that.

Scissor Wed 22-Jul-15 20:54:24

It was a personal, named, negative comment about an individuals professional capability and has been published. The internet is really not the place to do that, however closed you feel your community is one of your members is obviously not comfortable and whistleblowing.

saintlyjimjams Wed 22-Jul-15 20:56:48

I think it's indiscreet. But if it's a private group communicating amongst themselves, using their own set up (not the school's) then he shouldn't be getting involved. He'd be wise not to get involved anyway.

Scissor Wed 22-Jul-15 21:07:24

On the internet you are publishing, your comments are being saved, sent and shared in many different ways, all open to access and attack and mostly, once posted , up forever.

So twitter scenario is maybe daft and foolish and may well impact on the person posting, they will have the consequence of that.

Personal comment on teacher is potentially libel/slander as has been published, so is now on record, and not just part of a non minuted conversation with the headteacher. (Would hazard a guess that any conversation on these lines may well have got as short shrift)

Scissor Wed 22-Jul-15 21:14:46

Saintly... completely agree, best not to get involved, but does sound odd that a school has a closed forum for one class that has been set up to comment on so many day to day matters as school council, dinners etc that don't even fall in the remit of the official school governors.

BackforGood Wed 22-Jul-15 21:18:37

I agree with scissor - it's inappropriate to make personal comments about someone you know - particularly in a professional capacity - on a public forum.
If the person had an issue, then they should have gone in and discussed it.

However, I'm not sure what the HT or the teacher them self could do about it, short of taking them to court for libel or some such.

I'm presuming this is an informal group people have arranged themselves, not something set up by the school (?) if it were, then it would be easier to have them removed from the group, or close down the group or something.

Strella Thu 23-Jul-15 06:59:19

Thank you all, different opinions...

It's NOT on a social network or the internet, unless personal email counts as the internet? I don't think that email counts as 'published'? Or does it?

It's a CC list of parents in the class. People use it for buying and selling occasionally, offering work, advertising activities, asking for photos of events, even party invitation - and commenting on school matters.

It was a personal, named remark, yes - but it's not a campaign, any replies were sent in private to the person who made the comment, not CCd to anyone and it won't be saved on the internet for posterity, and probably nowhere else either (except in my overflowing deleted items box).

Saying that there have been comments about another teacher in the past which were continued back and forth to the list, and nothing was ever said about that. Probably because lots of people shared the opinion but others did not and so it was an exchange of thoughts.

I am slightly biased; my feelings towards the HT are not entirely sympathetic as is probably obvious. But in any case I think it is an interesting situation.

saintlyjimjams Thu 23-Jul-15 08:28:02

It's really none of the head's business. Are they are a bit of a dinosaur with limited understanding of the Internet?

Strella Thu 23-Jul-15 09:05:14

Far from it. He prides himself on his knowledge of technology and is trying to improve the use of it in school, he's quite young (well, younger than me, ahem)

Unless what he has been told isn't accurate - I mean if someone said 'so and so is circulating an email about one of the teachers, saying awful things about him' then I might get the wrong idea myself.

The point of the parent commenting was to explain their actions in moving the child to another class. It wasn't advisable to include detail like that but I don't think it constitutes bullying etc. so perhaps whoever told him about it phrased it to sound much worse than it was.

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