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  • Discrimination, the law, CRB checks (All Teachers)

    Posted by Eliza Fyfe on September 3, 2016 at 9:51 am

    Big topic here!

    So I got an enquiry from someone with a learning difficulty, nothing out of the ordinary here, and I already teach a couple who are deaf/blind. I asked my PA to email my teachers to see if they are all okay to teach this particular student, before making the referral to the appropriate teacher. My PA’s partner, who is a lawyer, said this was illegal due to this being discrimination. The truth is, I like to ask my teachers if they are comfortable teaching anyone with a unique request or with learning difficulties as this can require a certain skill set.

    It made me really think how careful I need to be with how I word things. I thought it would be interesting to explore the boundaries of communication so as to avoid discrimination but also ensuring teachers and clients are comfortable with each other! Have you had any similar stories?

    Another one is a guy I told a white lie to because he seemed a bit weird over email. Consistent messages, not understanding the options we gave him then constantly talking about working with Black Sabbath’s keys player… he had poor English, which wouldn’t normally matter, but he generally had a bad vibe!

    I believe the law is that you cannot refuse service to anyone, even if they have an extremely controversial political/religious belief that you disagree with. But where do you draw the line… and are you even allowed to?!

    Also, further to this, should I ensure that all teachers are CRB checked, even though it’s all independent lessons away from schools? I wanted to check the law on this too! I am CRB checked but haven’t checked if the teachers are! I think, as I am a company, I should probably sort this out!

    Kat Hunter replied 7 years, 7 months ago 2 Members · 5 Replies
  • 5 Replies
  • Matthew Rusk

    September 3, 2016 at 9:54 am

    Just on the CRB check – now known as a DBS check – I can confirm that the last time I spoke with a lawyer that for private music tuition lessons it is not a legal requirement to hold a valid certificate to be able to offer to teach young students or vulnerable adults. That said I would thoroughly recommend that all teachers obtain one, not only as it is a mark of professionalism but also as something that can be added to the websites to help encourage more parents to get in touch for lessons with their children. DBS checks can be obtained from here (https://www.gov.uk/disclosure-barring-service-check/overview).

  • Beckie Tunnicliffe

    September 3, 2016 at 9:55 am

    I know this isn’t from a teaching point of view, but when I worked in retail we was actually allowed to refuse to serve or sell items to customers if we had a good enough reason. For example, nasty customers, or there was a minority of customers who would try to make out an item was cheaper than it actually was (e.g. changing the price on the item but making it HEAVILY discounted, like £50 to £10 instead of £30). We would then scan the item into the till and it would obviously be the correct price (£30). As we cannot put such a huge discount on the item the customer would start to kick off and always say “You HAVE to legally sell it at the price it is marked at it is the law I demand to see your manager blah blah blah I’m speaking to your head office!”etc etc. Actually, no we don’t – we can just refuse to sell the item to the customer on those grounds and nothing can be done about it. It is your discretion.

    Whether this would apply in a similar situation for teaching, e.g. the enquiry that seemed a bit weird, I don’t know – but if you don’t feel comfortable teaching that person then don’t teach them. Obviously you can’t turn around to them and say “Sorry, but you’re a bit strange, I can’t teach you”…at the end of the day you have to be happy as well as the customer. And you would be able to use that circumstance where someone refuses to pay you – luckily I’ve never been in that situation with a student where I have had to refuse lessons for that reason (it’s been close though!)

  • Phil Schneider

    September 3, 2016 at 9:55 am

    Funny thing is i recently received a similar enquiry. i am sure all enquiries are genuine and no one would be trying to trap you into a legal claim for monetary gain. You can’t discriminate on certain legally defined attributes but like when i tried to join the millionaires club but was discriminated against for being poor but it aint illegal If i was a disabled millionaire may be .

    You need to tread carefully. Don’t give out anything that can be construed as discriminatory. you can’t say “I don’t like to teach disabled people” but “I do not have adequate qualifications for this specialised area of teaching” as long as it is true or ” I am full at the moment please try later ” Lawyers please note quotation marks for purposes of example the opinions expressed therewithin are not mine or anybody associated with me but serve an educational fictious example based in the Ottoman empire and have no direct relevance to the uk law or could be a humorous piece of satire and is not legal advice.

  • Guest Teacher

    September 3, 2016 at 9:55 am

    I’m DBS checked because I work as a youth and children’s worker part time and I would definitely recommend having one even if it is just to give parents peace of mind and to protect yourself.

    Where the law is concerned, in my understanding in working with youth and children as well as vulnerable adults in the past I believe that as long as you treat everyone in the same manner, so you said you like to make sure your teachers are comfortable with teaching people. So as long as you do this with every student and not just the autistic or weird ones then it is not discriminating and there is nothing they can do.

    I might be wrong but as far as I understand it as long as you treat everyone with the same criteria (obviously I know you have to take different approaches with different people) then you are fine.

  • Kat Hunter

    September 3, 2016 at 9:55 am

    Although my knowledge of the Uk legal system is not thorough, I would imagine that regardless of the law it would, in fact, be unethical to ACCEPT a student if you feel you’re unable to serve them as they would like, and if you know you can refer them to a different service that would much better cater for their needs.
    For example, I now don’t teach anyone under the age of 16, don’t often teach people with disabilities, and don’t teach people with vocal injuries unless I know what I’m doing and am confident I am the best person to help these students reach their goals. This is not me *discriminating* against people. If parents enquire about lessons, or students with special needs enquire, there’s a teacher I refer them to who is AMAZING at this kind of work (when I watch her working with kids and compare it to my much more technique-focused adult-friendly teaching style, it’s a no-brainer). If students with injuries enquire, I request a letter from a doctor or ENT with an “ok” to start vocal training and specifics. It would be UNETHICAL for me to accept these students when I can refer them to other people who are far more knowledgeable than I am, in helping specific students achieve the goals they are aiming for.

    I know it’s much more sensitive when working with people with disabilities, and you have to watch your wording, but if you feel uncomfortable teaching someone, then taking their money for a service you aren’t well-equipped to provide is bad news no matter how you look at it.

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