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Upper School Dilemmas

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On 01/06/2019 at 02:38, Kate_N said:

 

Let me offer a different perspective: I have 30 years experience of dealing with undergrads - so I'm speaking about legal adults here. I appreciate it's different for those under 18. But at 18, people are deemed legally adult, and some of the things posters are demanding here are illegal, and put university staff in compromising situations. These demands are unreasonable in current legal circumstances.

 

Sadly, what I see each year, is that sadly, for a small minority of troubled students, the home life is - sadly - not "nurturing home life." Sometimes, from what I gather from troubled students, it's the home life, and/or the behaviour of a parent which is actually the problem. Ad even if this is not objectively true, it is the student's perception.

 

And surely it is a parent's job to gradually & age-appropriately train their children for independence?

 

I teach the student - my relationship is with the student, not the parent (and actually, at universities, it's still mostly the taxpayer who is paying the tuition fee, not the parent). It would be a breach of my trust relationship with a student to inform their parents without the student's permission - in some cases I've dealt with, I cannot imagine what havoc I could have caused, had I contacted parents.

 

 

How do I know the circumstances of a student's family relationships, unless they tell me? They may have a different story about family life than their parents, but my working relationship is with the student. I am legally not permitted to contact parents unless I have the written permission of the legally adult undergrad.

 

The situation of a recent student suicide was that the young person was quite seriously unwell before university. There were adjustments, but these were not enough for the illness - however, sometimes it is just not possible to make adjustments and teach the full course. . As educators, we have a responsibility to teach and assess appropriately. I've had many experiences of working with a student who basically is not well enough to be at university, but they have become attached to the idea that being at university is the one thing that they are successful at, and the one thing that keeps them from having to admit the extent of their illness. Of course, this is a disastrous way of thinking, and academic staff spend a lot of time (and our own emotional/mental well-being) trying to assist and guide these young people. But you can't get a degree for being ill, as harsh as that sounds (and I know it's very tough in some instances). There are mechanisms for intercalation/leave of absence. In my experience, students who take these up end up doing very well. We once had a student write our staff team a card to say thank you for forcing her to choose between dropping out completely or taking a year's leave of absence. She chose the latter, worked and rested for a year, and sailed through the rest of her degree. 

 

Most academic staff take their professional responsibility for the care & nurturing of undergrads very seriously. But universities cannot supply the deficiencies of the NHS, dysfunctional families, or chronic illness or disability. We can make "reasonable accommodation" but we have a responsibility to hold students to the highest of standards (in what is one of the world's BEST education system, which attracts learners from all over the world).

 

I think these issues are diminished if they're reduced simply to "I'm paying for this." That attitude - frankly - is becoming part of the problem in some instances.

 

In dance training, where it feels that time is of the essence, of course these things feel more urgent and thus more difficult. But in the end, we all need physical and mental well-being. 

While this thread was originally about 16 years old being treated as legal adults in terms of their information being withheld from parents, I appreciate you expressing your perspective. I underatand that students's backgrounds and relationship with their family differ (though I think other than in very exceptional circumstances confidential information about a university student or employee 18 or over should not be shared anyway) and agree that that it would be unreasonable and even immoral to break the law in order to share confidential information about a student.

 

You said "you can't get a degree for being ill". I agree that you shouldn't get a degree SOLELY for being ill (what one should get a degree for is for satisfying the course requirements), and there is nothing wrong with leave of absence or even quitting university when it is in one's best interest, whether because of medical or other reasons. Although personally I have decided to start my university studies (and I was nowhere near a top student in terms of grades in secondary school), I do not believe that university should be considered compulsory or that ANY student (even the most academically able) should be forced into going to university.

 

However, while I see absolutely nothing wrong with a person deciding not to go to university even when they have the opportunity (as long as the decision was arrived with logical thinking and consideration of facts),a I think university may be the right decision for some students, and that likely includes students with an illness or illneses (I am not disagreeing that a medical leave of absence or withdrawal from university could appropriate in some situationa).

 

While one shouldn't get a diploma or degree solely for being ill, one absolutely should get a degree for passing and finishing course requirements needed to obtain the diploma or degree despite illness.

Edited by DancingtoDance

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On 29/05/2019 at 14:27, taxi4ballet said:

Only if you are able to complete the 3 years. If not - due to injury as in my dd's case or for other reasons - then you have used up part of your degree funding with nothing to show for it and no A-levels either. You get a level 5 qualification if you complete 2 years, but all that means is that you are unable get funding to go to college to study something else, and you can't get on a degree-level course in another field because they won't accept the dance qualification and you don't have enough UCAS points because you have no A-levels either. You would also have to self-fund part of the degree. Catch 22.

 

To be honest, on the whole, A-levels might be the best option.

You can do A levels and then go to Rambert at 18. Excellent dance education there and good pastoral / physio care

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The interests of the young person should always be paramount it’s that simple. But to shove my oar in, there is absolutely no comparison between a young person going away to a good university at 18/19 years to study for a degree and a 16 year old going away to study for a ‘degree ‘ in classical dance. It is a degree in name only packaged that way to get funding. In reality it’s a hard physical and mental slog with little support or pastoral care. I have a had a child in each system at the same time and the two situations are not comparable. My dd has survived but it has been a close run thing at times and many of her friends have not been so lucky. Since it’s considered normal for classical students to embark on such a course at 16 unlike the rare academic prodigy who goes to university early, the safeguards and parental involvement should IMO default to the needs of a 16 year old and currently they don’t at some schools. 

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I wonder how universities other than dance universities deal with minors' confidential information; do they disclose it to the young person's parent(s)/guardian or not? It may be rare for students to go to university before nearly a legal adult however I would not be surprised if there are plenty of university students who are not 18 yet because of a late birthday et cetera. I do appreciate that it is not the same thing as a 16 year old doing a degree course in dance.

 

I don't exactly understand how the fact that a young person under 18 is doing a degree course (in whatever) would mean that they are be treated as legal adults in terms of confidentiality. Also, does UK government law allow that for a young person under 18 (I don't know)?

 

I agree that where the majority of students in a particular course are of a similar age and under 18, then the needs of that age group must be considered especially in terms of health and safety and confidentiality issues. Personally I think that the maturity of 16-17 year olds may vary and that one minor may be ready to independently live away from home responsibility while another may not be. However, I do think that unless the  that 16 and 17 year olds should be treated as minors in regards to confidentiality (I don't know UK government law in regards to what this would and would not permit).

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Consent and confidential information is evolving legally in relation to 16 and 17 year olds. 16 and 17 years old are becoming more recognised in the UK as young persons. This means they can visit health practitioners without their parents and are entitled to have their health information kept confidential. The law is clear on this and the General Medical Council provides information on this. They can now even consent to surgery without parental agreement (but if they refused and was in their best interests to have the procedure then their parents could be asked.)

Schools do have a duty to care but if a young person requests for their information to not be disclosed evolving legislation may prevent.

In University at 18 level, we can recommend the student tells their parents or even wellbeing/GP but we cannot force this. On professional courses such as health professionals then concerns about the mental wellbeing of students is dealt with by wellbeing/occupational health and fitness to practice.

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23 hours ago, DancingtoDance said:

I wonder how universities other than dance universities deal with minors' confidential information; do they disclose it to the young person's parent(s)/guardian or not? It may be rare for students to go to university before nearly a legal adult however I would not be surprised if there are plenty of university students who are not 18 yet because of a late birthday et cetera. I do appreciate that it is not the same thing as a 16 year old doing a degree course in dance.

 

I don't exactly understand how the fact that a young person under 18 is doing a degree course (in whatever) would mean that they are be treated as legal adults in terms of confidentiality. Also, does UK government law allow that for a young person under 18 (I don't know)?

 

I agree that where the majority of students in a particular course are of a similar age and under 18, then the needs of that age group must be considered especially in terms of health and safety and confidentiality issues. Personally I think that the maturity of 16-17 year olds may vary and that one minor may be ready to independently live away from home responsibility while another may not be. However, I do think that unless the  that 16 and 17 year olds should be treated as minors in regards to confidentiality (I don't know UK government law in regards to what this would and would not permit).

I meant to say I think 16 and 17 year olds should be treated as minors in regards to confidentiality unless government law suggests otherwise.

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On 04/09/2019 at 05:38, DancingtoDance said:

I meant to say I think 16 and 17 year olds should be treated as minors in regards to confidentiality unless government law suggests otherwise.

i do not think that sentence has the meaning you think it has ...

*cough* Gillick / Fraser  * cough * 

Edited by NJH

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If a child / minor is assessed as Fraser (gillick) competent then yes they do have a right to make their own choices and expect their information to remain confidential. 

 

However it’s not as straight forward as that. 

 

I would worry about a school that simply refused to communicate with parents without even considering the child’s wishes (ie a blanket policy rather than looking at the individual). 

 

As a nurse working with teenagers I will often ask for permission to discuss an issue with a parent. More often than not the teenager is happy for this to happen. 

 

Fraser competency does not exclude the school from speaking to parents. It means that each student should be treated as an individual to consider what the student wishes to happen. 

Even over the age of 18 the student can give permission for information to be shared with their parents. It shouldn’t be completely black and white. 

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We run a business providing training and qualifications. If an employer pays for a learner to be trained by us, the learner agrees (on a signed agreement) that we share their progress with the funder. 

 

Although my dd is over 18 and receiving a Dada,  we pay a significant amount towards her dance training. Information on her progress is shared with us, and I feel this is right. I don’t think she has signed an agreement to this effect, and perhaps she should, but I strongly believe we should be in the loop about how well she is doing (and if our money is being well spent!) 

 

If my dd wishes to discuss anything with her teachers or pastoral team which is not directly impacting on her dance training, that is a different matter. I I would hope that the institution would encourage her to share, or seek her agreement to share on her behalf if they felt it was significant. 

 

 

 

Edited by Karen
Edited for typo
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And it’s not just about confidentiality, important though that is. It’s about support and nurture, about duty of care. Some schools I could mention have strict no alcohol and no overnight guest policies but they are not enforced. A group of under 18s living in shared accommodation and left to their own devices will likely end up living in a complete mess as not all of them have the maturity to cope. Some 16 to 18 year olds do manage extremely well but when forced to share dirty accommodation and deal with classmates who are suffering from extreme homesickness and lashing out as a result it’s not at all easy. Add on to that the emotional and physical strain of a very demanding course and you the parent may find yourself on the receiving end of a very distressed phone call. At this point you may begin to harbour very uncharitable views towards the school who have allowed this situation to happen.

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