What the law says on advice

7th February 1997 at 00:00
The legal fears most often voiced by teachers are the effects of Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act and the implications of Circular 594 from the Department for Education.

Ms Lenderyou emphasises that Section 28 - the clause prohibiting promotion of homosexuality - does not apply to schools at all, but to local authorities.

Concerns about the circular centre on the warning against giving individuals contraceptive advice, and the instruction that heads and parents should be told about any confidences about underage sex.

The Sex Education Forum says it would not be good practice for anyone unqualified to give contraceptive advice, but there was nothing to prevent a teacher telling a pupil where he or she could get such information - from the GP, for example. It was also sensible to set limits on confidences at the outset - pupils should role-play rather than discuss their own problems in the classroom.

Those asking to tell the teacher something in confidence should be told that this could not be guaranteed, as the teacher would have to decide as an adult on what had been said. But if the pupil needed protection or help, the teacher should promise to stay with him or her while things were resolved.

The circular did allow headteachers to insist that staff informed them of any confidences made in them by pupils.

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