How we protect your anonymity

Posted on 27th August 2016 by John
A padlock and chain in front of a green door

Whether you’re looking forward to the new term with a certain relish or quietly dreading the thought of another year ‘at that place’, your experiences of your school are what colour your outlook.

It’s those experiences that Happy Teacher seeks to collect and share with the wider teaching community. We truly believe that by giving you the means to review your school and share those thoughts with others, we can not only empower all teachers to make more informed decisions when considering a change of job but also raise the bar for how schools treat their teaching staff.

Whilst that’s a lofty goal, we do understand that the idea of sharing a negative review is probably a bit daunting. Even if you don’t particularly enjoy working at your school, you probably don’t want to put your name to a review that highlights your school’s shortcomings for fear of repercussions. It’s for that reason that we’ve made review anonymity a key component of Happy Teacher.

In fact, it underpins everything we do.

Don’t ask, don’t tell

Our philosophy is to never request more information than we actually need. We’re not in the business of selling data (and we never will be) so our main concern is striking a balance between review validity and not asking for more information than we need.

For example, if you are writing a review the only identifying information we ask for is your school email address and a personal email address. We don’t ask you for your name, your address or any other identifying data because, simply put, we don’t need to know.

Given that we cannot guarantee that you have sole access to your school email address, we take the position that we should send as little as possible to that address. For that reason we only send a single email to your school email address (just to confirm that you do indeed work at your selected school). Any other email we send (including password resets) are sent to your personal email address which is yours and yours alone.

We also try to be as transparent as possible in how we handle your data. We’re a limited company registered with the Information Commissioners Office and we make every effort to clearly explain how your data is stored and handled in our privacy policy.  On a more technical front, we aren’t taking any risks with your data – all communication on the site is encrypted and data is stored on industry-leading secure cloud servers.

Your review

Your school review itself is comprised of three parts. The first part is all about numbers – we ask you to give agreement ratings for a series of statements about your school (find out more about the making of those questions).

The second part of the review therefore asks you to write a short summary of the things you like and/or dislike about your school. Teachers using the site are finding these comments to be highly useful.

We ask all teachers to follow our simple review guidelines and we actively moderate all review comments to ensure that each one adheres to those guidelines. So even if you accidentally write something that identifies you or someone else at your school there’s not much chance of it making its public debut.  We also have a 24 hour ‘cooldown’ period after a review is submitted which gives us time to moderate reviews but also gives you the ability to change your review before it’s published.

The last part of the review asks you a short series of questions about you. These question are entirely optional but we ask them so that in the future we can look for interesting patterns across the country. This information is never publicly associated with individual review comments.

Presenting the data

When it comes to presenting review data for each school, we’ve put a lot of thought into how we can provide meaningful information without risking the identity of individual teachers.

Reviews for a school are not displayed at all until there are at least three reviews available. This ensures that any average scores are more valid and also ensures that no teacher is ‘singled out’ for having written a review.

As you can see from this demonstration of how we present school review data, the scores for each school are presented in aggregate form only. Review comments are displayed with only an approximation how long ago the comment was made – no other identifying information is associated with comments.

Addressing any concerns you may have over review anonymity is one of our top priorities. We want teachers to feel positive about writing a review of their school rather than worry about the potential repercussions. If you have any questions or comments then we want to hear from you!

Photo credit: Pexels