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The Dogenius Institute
Inspiration & Ethical Education for Animal Advocates

Staff-Student Relationships

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1. Introduction

1.1 This policy outlines The DoGenius Ltd’s position on relationships between members of staff and students. The relationship between students and staff are central to the student experience and this policy is intended to ensure that these relationships are professional, have boundaries, and are founded on mutual trust and confidence.

 

1.2 In the context of this document, a personal relationship is defined as:

  • a family relationship;
  • a business/commercial/financial relationship; or
  • a sexual/romantic relationship, however brief.

 

1.3 A professional relationship is defined as:

  • a teaching, assessing, supervising, tutoring, mentoring role; or
  • a pastoral or welfare role; or
  • an administrative or technical support role.

 

1.4 The difference in power between a member of staff and a student makes any personal relationships potentially vulnerable to exploitation. They also generate real or perceived inequalities, not only involving the persons concerned, but also affecting other members of the The DoGenius Ltd, whether students or staff.

 

2. Scope of the policy

2.1 This policy applies to all staff members of The DoGenius Ltd, including hourly paid lecturers and other contracted staff employed directly by The DoGenius Ltd.

2.2 The policy also applies to staff who are enrolled as students.

 

3. Relationships with other policies

3.1 This policy is part of a suite of policies and guidelines that have been designed to protect staff and students and ensure all members of The DoGenius Ltd community can enjoy a positive environment in which to work and study. This policy should be read in conjunction with the following policies:

  • Guidance on Dealing with Unacceptable Behavior
  • Staff Disciplinary Policy and Procedure
  • Safeguarding Policy
  • Dignity at Work
  • Declarations of Interest Policy
  • Guidance on the use of social media for staff

 

4. Policy statement

4.1 The staff-student relationship should be one of trust and confidence in order that students can benefit from the learning experience offered by the The DoGenius Ltd. It is also vital that students benefit from equality of treatment and so it is important that a personal relationship between a member of staff and a student does not in any way prejudice that equality, in reality or perception.

4.2 Members of The DoGenius Ltd staff are strongly discouraged from entering into a personal relationship with any student and this policy covers all students regardless of their course. All students are affected by the imbalance of power in any such relationship. It should be noted that any relationships with students under the age of eighteen is regarded as a disciplinary matter under the The DoGenius Ltd’s Safeguarding Policy. In particular, under the Sexual Offences Act 2000 it is an offence for a person over 18 to have a sexual relationship with a child under 18 where that person is in a position of trust in respect of that child, even if the relationship is consensual.

 

4.3 The DoGenius Ltd regards it as unprofessional for any staff member to actively seek to initiate a personal relationship or to pursue such a relationship with a student in any circumstance. It has a duty of care to its students to ensure that they can study in a safe environment and that their welfare is protected. The DoGenius Ltd may, therefore, take disciplinary action under the Staff Disciplinary Procedure where there is any behavior by members of staff that undermines the professional staff student relationship such as texting, inappropriate communications, asking them to socialise etc. Such behavior or that of a more serious nature such as asking for sexual favours or other forms of abuse, will lead to action.

 

4.4 The DoGenius Ltd does, however, recognise that such relationships may nonetheless develop where it may not have been initiated by the staff member or may pre-exist. Where a member of staff has a professional role in relation to a student with whom they have a personal relationship, it is the responsibility of the member of staff to inform their Head of School/Service promptly. The Head of school will review teaching, tutoring, assessment, administrative or any other arrangements to ensure the interests of the student is protected.

 

5. Guidance on maintaining professional relationships

5.1 Staff should aim to develop good professional relationships with students. Within this, certain boundaries are important to maintain to ensure that these relationships remain professional as follows:

  • Although staff should aim to develop a professional relationship they should not see themselves as friends;
  • Staff should maintain an appropriate boundary between work and home including not sharing personal information with them or socialising with them except on any appropriate course related functions;

 

6. Declarations

6.1 Staff must declare to their Head of School/Service where they have an existing personal relationship with a student. Where this exists, the Head of School should ensure that the members of staff does not teach or assess the student or otherwise have any professional responsibility for them. Such relationships should also be declared and it is important that the student is not advantaged by the relationship above their peers.

6.2 Where a personal relationship develops, it is the member of staff must inform the Head of School/Service promptly. It must also be reported in accordance with the Declarations of Interest Policy. Where a staff member has not declared it will be viewed as a disciplinary matter.