Ask a teacher

4th May 2007 at 01:00
I am a 22-year-old female teacher and vaguely know one of my Year 10 girls on a social level. She has given my MSN address to some of the other girls in class. They are delightful and the contact has been harmless. They have sent me short stories and poems they have written and I have advised them on books they might enjoy. Am I doing anything unprofessional?

Amanda, Oldham

A It is probably not advisable to continue, unless you have notified the parents.

There's nothing wrong with offering feedback on work or advising on books, but you need to consider the reactions of the parents.

Most would see your actions as positive and be grateful for your advice.

Inform parents and find out whether they are comfortable about this.

Nick, Kent

A Always ask a senior member of staff before doing anything which might have unwanted consequences. I don't think you're doing anything unprofessional, unless it is against school policy, but you are putting yourself at risk.

Change your email address and tell pupils they can give you work in school that you will look at later. You appear to be a committed teacher. Make sure that you work within secure boundaries.

Joe, East Yorkshire

A I'm sure that your motives are beyond reproach, and that all contact has been innocent but we live in an age in which, for example, all physical contact between generations is now open to suspicion and the internet has become the recruiting ground for paedophiles.

Every action, no matter how genuine, is subject to scrutiny, innuendo and unsavoury speculation.

Colin, West Sussex

A If you are guilty of anything, it is that you have been naive and it could lead to problems. There is always the possibility that things might develop in an "inappropriate" fashion.

For example, the girls might complain about your colleagues or talk about problems at home. If this happens you will need to draw lines Jenny, Worthing

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