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Online safety

Keeping children safe in education (2018) sets out

Annex C: Online safety

The use of technology has become a significant component of many safeguarding issues. Child sexual exploitation; radicalisation; sexual predation: technology often provides the platform that facilitates harm. An effective approach to online safety empowers a school or college to protect and educate the whole school or college community in their use of technology and establishes mechanisms to identify, intervene in, and escalate any incident where appropriate.

The breadth of issues classified within online safety is considerable, but can be categorised into three areas of risk:

  • content: being exposed to illegal, inappropriate or harmful material; for example pornography, fake news, racist or radical and extremist views;
  • contact: being subjected to harmful online interaction with other users; for example commercial advertising as well as adults posing as children or young adults; and
  • conduct: personal online behaviour that increases the likelihood of, or causes, harm; for example making, sending and receiving explicit images, or online bullying.

Education

Opportunities to teach safeguarding, including online safety, are discussed at paragraph 85-87. Resources that could support schools and colleges include:

  • UKCCIS has recently published its Education for a connected world Online safety is a whole school and college issue. The framework aims to support the development of the curriculum and is of particular relevance to PSHE education and Computing. It is designed, however, to be usable across the curriculum and beyond and to be central to a whole school or college approach to safeguarding and online safety. It covers early years through to age 18.
  • The PSHE Association provides guidance to schools on developing their PSHE curriculum
  • Parent Zone and Google have developed Be Internet Legends a free internet safety curriculum with PSHE accredited lesson plans and teaching resources for Key Stage 2 pupils.

Filters and monitoring

Governing bodies and proprietors should be doing all that they reasonably can to limit children’s exposure to the above risks from the school’s or college’s IT system. As part of this process, governing bodies and proprietors should ensure their school or college has appropriate filters and monitoring systems in place.

Whilst considering their responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, and provide them with a safe environment in which to learn, governing bodies and proprietors should consider the age range of their pupils, the number of pupils, how often they access the IT system and the proportionality of costs vs risks.

The appropriateness of any filters and monitoring systems are a matter for individual schools and colleges and will be informed in part, by the risk assessment required by the Prevent Duty. The UK Safer Internet Centre has published guidance as to what “appropriate” filtering and monitoring might look like: UK Safer Internet Centre: appropriate filtering and monitoring.

Guidance on e-security is available from the National Education Network. Support for schools is available via the: schools’ buying strategy with specific advice on procurement here: buying for schools.

Whilst filtering and monitoring is an important part of the online safety picture for schools and colleges to consider, it is only one part. Governors and proprietors should consider a whole school or college approach to online safety. This will include a clear policy on the use of mobile technology in the school or college. Many children have unlimited and unrestricted access to the internet via 3G and 4G in particular and the school and college should carefully consider how this is managed on their premises. Whilst it is essential that governing bodies and proprietors ensure that appropriate filters and monitoring systems are in place, they should be careful that “over blocking” does not lead to unreasonable restrictions as to what children can be taught with regard to online teaching and safeguarding.

Reviewing online safety

Technology in this area evolves and changes rapidly. A free online safety self-review tool for schools can be found via the 360 safe website. UKCCIS have recently published Online safety in schools and colleges: Questions for the governing board.

Staff training

Governors and proprietors should ensure that, as part of the requirement for staff to undergo regularly updated safeguarding training [KCSIE (2018), paragraph 81] and the requirement to ensure children are taught about safeguarding, including online safety [KCSIE (2018), paragraph 85], that online safety training for staff is integrated, aligned and considered as part of the overarching safeguarding approach.

Information and support

There is a wealth of information available to support schools, colleges and parents to keep children safe online. The list [on this page] is not exhaustive but should provide a useful starting point.

Updates and changes

Updated

These pages are updated regularly and should be used as the main source of information.  Printed versions should be used with care as they can become out of date.