Best Practices

The following are in conjuncton to the information in the Flags process page, and the guide on how to raise a flag.

  • Starfish’s main purpose is to support staff in helping the student throughout their academic life at the College.
  • Any interventions and progress on an issue should be added as ‘Comments’ on a raised flag. All flags should eventually be ‘Resolved’.
  • If a concern/issue/case has an associated file or document which holds sensitive data (e.g. Medical Report on a Word document or PDF) then that file is to be kept on the secure file repository provided by your department.
  • Students should be informed by the department about the use of Starfish, and how their information is to be used.
  • Student Achievements (or ‘Kudos’) should be recognised and added to the student’s folder whenever possible. These provide an important source of positive reinforcement, and are useful when writing reference letters on behalf of the student.
  • In cases where you need to disclose the issue to another party, inform the student of who you are intending to involve, and why (eg. medical advice). Inform the student that such disclosure can be anonymous, although in some cases someone else will need to be notified (usually the Senior/PG Tutor).
  • Be aware of which other role related to the student can see the flag/note etc. you are raising, especially in the cases when the flag/note might implicate another member of staff. In those cases the issue should be kept outside the system.
  • Students will receive an email from Starfish when they reach 3/6/10 unapproved absences recorded in an Academic Year. This has had positive results in some departments already where the Senior/Personal tutors have followed up on these, and previously undisclosed Mitigating Circumstances have come to light.  This is a good example of the benefits of the system and intervention by staff has led to more proactive support to the students.
  • The difference between a Flag and a Note, is that a flag is to be resolved while a note can remain for longer periods on a student folder, and also it can be deleted. Flags are easier to track and filter on within the system.
  • When writing a reference, you can use both Achievements and the student’s Transcript which should be attached on the student folder (for continuing students).
  • Please take special care when you download files from the system which hold sensitive data (e.g. reports, files from a student folder) – ensure they are deleted from your local or shared drive after you have finished working with them. In general, avoid opening a file directly from your browser as you do not control where the browser saves it - always do a 'Save As' so you have control of the save location.
  • Also, be mindful when you are copy/pasting information out of the system. In general, avoid exchanging sensitive information via email, as it is not considered a secure means of communication. Starfish should be used instead as the central repository for that type of information. If there is a member of staff that should be in this student’s Circle of Care, then please contact your departmental Starfish representative.
  • The Starfish ‘Organisation’ in Blackboard (top right on your Blackboard dashboard) is managed by your departmental Starfish representative, and might hold useful information/forms/policies etc.
  • Civil & Environmental Engineering is using the system to track PhD milestones. This allows students and supervisors to track their progress towards completion of their degree requirements and upcoming deadlines.

Links to College policies and other areas of best practice

Student Space

Personal Tutors' guide

Success Guide

Improving the Student Experience (PDF)

Academic governance

The UK Quality Code for Higher Education

Also, see the Starfish Terms of use and Data protection page.