The hardest part of my work as a Resource teacher is keeping students’ IEPs up to date. I need to balance students’ confidentiality with accessing relevant information about their learning needs and skills to formulate a short term plan. This involves consulting subject teachers, parents, psychological assessments, samples of their work every six to eight weeks. The result is a focused plan that addresses the student’s immediate learning needs allowing the student access the curriculum.
The process is a lengthy logistical nightmare for me. To consult colleagues I must text them, email or try and catch them in the staff room. Parents need to be phoned several times before I can catch them. Students need to bring home slips of paper for parental consent to be given. I can’t cope with slips of paper that well. I struggle not to lose them. Imagine what it’s like trying to relay slips between students with ADD, dyspraxia or dyslexia and their parents and back.
My colleagues often duplicate this process to plan for the same students who are part of different Learning Support groups.
All this paperwork is necessary. It facilitates better teaching and learning. But such huge efforts into record keeping detract from the finite resources I can put into planning engaging classes.
Why are so many schools reluctant to move from paper digital records? According to the Department Of Education’s Protection of Personal Data Code of Practice, 2011 “In collecting personal data the Department has a responsibility to use it both effectively and ethically.” The key word here is “effectively”. It is our duty.
“Teachers should have access to all information that is likely to be relevant to teaching or supervising a student with special educational needs, including psychological reports and other confidential documents.” Inclusion of Students With SEN Post primary Guidelines.
To ensure we keep appropriate records we should be guided by the principal that each record has a purpose. Only information that fits its purpose of facilitating better teaching and learning should be committed electronically or on paper. With this principal in mind teachers can stand over everything that they record whether on paper or electronically.
Electronically is the best way to enable us fulfil our duty to use data effectively. This fulfils our other duty: to protect students’ data. Currently we store sensitive data about our students in a locked office. This works against the principal of working effectively with the students’ IEPs on a day to day basis. I like to have access to the IEPs on a daily basis so that I can plan effectively. So I keep them in my locked classroom occasionally, bring them home occasionally, have them on my desk occasionally. Optimised student learning is facilitated but security is diminished. Also my colleagues can’t access the IEP because its not in the office. Doesn’t this show that using paper it is impossible to marry security and sharing?
There must be a way to conveniently and securely access and appropriately share up to date student data. Please let me know how you meet this challenge.