Safeguarding for music teachers giving lessons remotely

Many music teachers have successfully used Skype, FaceTime, Zoom and other audio-visual software to give music lessons for several years.

Safeguarding remains as important in this environment as anywhere else, and ISM members should familiarise themselves with our Safeguarding & Child Protection Policy, Code of Practice and Procedures and the ISM Members Code of Conduct.

Working via Skype (or equivalent) does raise some other safeguarding issues you need to consider.

Before and during lessons

  • Ideally set up a separate Skype (or equivalent) account for your online teaching. Keep it separate from your personal online profiles. Make sure you use an appropriate image for your profile picture, and do not share any personal information about yourself eg personal telephone number, email accounts, Facebook and other social media links.
  • Discuss the offer to teach online with the parents or guardians of pupils under the age of 18. You should also discuss this with your adult clients as online lessons may represent a change to your current contractual provisions.
  • Use the parents’ or guardians’ own account if possible rather than a child’s, to deliver lessons. Alternatively, ask them to set one up in their name and under their control.
  • Set out a clear policy in writing: tell people that your Skype (or equivalent) account will be used exclusively for the purpose of lessons and only during music lessons.
  • Get the agreement of the parents or guardians for teaching online in writing. Consider obtaininga DBS Enhanced Disclosure Certificate (formerly CRB check).
  • Test your set-up before you go live: are the camera and microphone working properly? Is the camera in the correct position for optimum teaching? Make sure you are working against a neutral background.
  • Be business-like when giving lessons: always present yourself as professionally as you would if you were giving a face-to-face lesson, in dress and in manner: remember that while social media applications can encourage informality, you need to observe your usual high professional standards at times.
  • The pupil must take lessons in a room with an open door and parents/guardians must provide that one of them or for a trusted adult shall be in the same premises as the pupil while the lesson takes place.

Recording lessons

Many members have asked us about the safeguarding implications of using Skype, Zoom and other software to record lessons.

This is a sensitive area and we advise caution. Always discuss this with your pupils or parents.

If you are in any doubt as to the intentions of your pupils or the parents/guardians of your pupils, do not record lessons.

You must never record a lesson without the knowledge and written consent of your pupil, or the pupil’s parents/guardians.

If you decide you so wish to record lessons:

  • Ask for consent in writing before you make any recording.
  • Have a written policy available to your clients which says:
  • what you will do with the recordings and that you will only ever use them for the purpose of tuition for the individual pupils
  • how long you will keep them and why
  • that you guarantee you will only ever share the recording with the pupil (if an adult) or the parents/guardians
  • How you will dispose securely of the recordings at the end of your retention period
  • That you will securely delete and dispose of recordings as quickly as possible if your pupils or their parents withdraw consent.
  • Update your GDPR Data Protection Privacy Statement and record of processing to reflect this.

As an alternative to making recordings yourself

Ask parents if they wish to make the recording themselves. This way they can control what happens to the recording. You should also seek their agreement that they will not share, or post to social media any recordings, and that they will securely delete and dispose of any of recordings of your teaching as soon as possible on your request.

If you have any safeguarding concerns about your pupil:

ISM members should follow the instructions in the ISM’s Safeguarding and Child Protection document.

  • If you are working within an organisation, contact their safeguarding lead in the first instance.
  • If you are working outside an organisation, you can call the NSPCC helpline 0808 800 5000, your local authority children’s social care department, or email the ISM’s Designated Safeguarding Person at [email protected]