5.6 Confidentiality

Section 5.4a| outlined how staff should handle confidential information and disclosure within the School. The basic principle is not to circulate personal information about named individuals unnecessarily and without their consent, but at the same time always to seek advice on how to handle difficult situations. Health and safety legislation takes precedence over Data Protection Act legislation, such that if there is any concern about risk of injury to self or others, confidentiality is a secondary concern. The School's Data Protection Policy can be found at http://www.lse.ac.uk/intranet/LSEServices/policies/pdfs/school/datProPol.pdf|

Note that where a student has disclosed a disability, you must ensure that if the student refuses to consent to this information being passed on to others in the School, they sign a form to that effect. The form can be obtained from the Disability and Well-being Service's Information on disclosure and confidentiality at lse.ac.uk/disability

When communicating with people outside the School (including parents and sponsors), the Data Protection Act prohibits the disclosure of any information about registered students to third parties, with a few specific exceptions - primarily statutory authorities (see 'Disclosure to third parties' at www.jisclegal.ac.uk/dataprotection/dataprotection.htm|). Queries about the student's progress, living arrangements, state of mind and so on (and indeed even straightforward queries about whether they are registered at LSE) should therefore be handled carefully and should not be answered without the student's consent in writing or via email from their LSE email account. Departmental tutors may wish to remind acting academic advisers about this legal perspective when responding to requests for information particularly from parents, guardians, sponsors or employers.

It is also best practice to avoid corresponding with students' non-LSE email accounts. At most a reply should simply confirm that a message has been sent to their LSE account. This is to ensure that personal information is not disclosed to a third party.

The LSE Student Counselling Service has its own confidentiality policy (see lse.ac.uk/counselling|). All counselling remains confidential, and the service is not able to provide any information about students without their explicit agreement, other than in exceptional circumstances (eg, serious risk of harm to self or others).

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