Ethics and confidentiality
When gathering, storing or obtaining any data, schools need to consider the issues of confidentiality and ethics.
‘Ethics serve to identify good, desirable, or acceptable conduct …’
The protection of individual privacy and confidentiality also includes individual rights within specific local and national cultural contexts.The cultural diversity within Australia means there is a range of views on the relative weight of individual and community values. The research or information gained will need to be of benefit to the participants.
Some of the ‘Principles of justice’ that need to be considered include the balance of public interest with the interests of the school, the capacity of individuals to make decisions about their lives and the right to exercise this capacity within the school community, and maximising the possible benefits and minimising possible harms in relation to any data that is collected.
We comply with ethical principles to ensure:
- Protection of individual rights to privacy and confidentiality
- The information benefits the participants
- We keep in mind the principles of justice, autonomy and beneficence
Ethics & Confidentiality paper, NSW Rural Doctors, April 2001
A range of data methodologies can be an advantage if there is sufficient time and energy – pieces of quantative data that confirm qualitative data can mean the school leadership or core team can feel confident about the survey results. The school could also consider other ways to gather perceptions – using focus discussion groups with external observers and recorders; learning conversations with students; student art and performance;playground language surveys; point of service surveys at the school counsellor's office; or academic and behavior data.