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eSafety: What's The Advice?

Published on 18/08/17

We know it's not a new topic and we're sure you're all too familiar with the concerns that the Internet brings to children, BUT with the new GDPR coming into place in May 2018, it's important that we refresh our memories with the importance of eSafety. 

So, as a little refresh, we would like to bring your attention back to the subject as it will all be very relevant for you to address before this coming May.

What is eSafety?

Ofsted describes e-safety as a school’s ability to protect and educate pupils and staff in their use of technology as well as having appropriate mechanisms in place to intervene and support any incident where appropriate. Protecting students means creating a safe learning environment, however education around e-safety is the only way to ensure that, wherever they are, they know how to stay safe online.

Why is it important?

With the continuing growth of technology, children today are the next generation of the digital age. With this sharp growth comes an increase in usage of a wide range of devices that are being accessed in and out of school. It may seem that technology is surpassing our understanding and knowledge in comparison to our children, but by keeping an awareness of what children are using these technologies for, and how to protect and educate them against any potential risks, we can put appropriate and extensive mechanisms in place.

“72% of children use a tablet at home (up from 42% in 2013). Among children aged between 5

and 7, 34% now have their own tablet, rather than using devices belonging to their parents or

school (up from 19% in 2013)”

- Ofcom 2014

A sharp increase in tablet ownership among very young children means that some are using one to surf the web, play games and watch video clips before they join school. With access to technologies at such a young age, the significance of e-safety has never been so important.

Indicators of ineffective practice

In previous years, e-safety practices have struggled to match the speed at which technology has grown, which means that there hasn’t been any firm guidelines or regulations within schools. E-safety has now become so important that Ofsted include this as part of their inspections, putting it firmly on the agenda of all schools. Common indicators of ineffective practice have been recorded as the following:

  • Personal data is often left unsecured and / or leaves school site without encryption

  • Security of passwords is ineffective, for example passwords are shared or common

    with all but the youngest children

  • Policies are generic and not updated

  • There is no progressive planned e-safety curriculum, for example there is only an assembly held annually

  • There is no internet filtering or monitoring, there is no evidence of staff training

  • Pupils are not aware how to report a problem

Developing your policies

Developing a robust e-safety policy might seem like an arduous job, but there are many resources online that will allow you to develop a comprehensive framework. Within your e-safety policy you should include:

  • Roles & Responsibilities – Clearly outline who students and staff can report to in accordance with e-safety issues, and where guidance can be received on reporting mechanisms

  • Acceptable Use Policy – This can be written with your pupils to ensure that they understand what is expected of them and how they can conduct themselves online

  • Informing parents – It is the understanding that is important, not the consent. It is important that parents understand the basis for your policies and why the school implements them

There are many aspects that are regularly missed from school’s e-safety policies which can include:

  • Risk assessment templates – This will include any introduction of new technology, and must be risk assessed against the foreseeability of any risk

  • Incident flowcharts & logs – Outlines clear guidance on the processes that will be adhered to if a risk is identified

  • Training – Establishing effectiveness of e-safety training and awareness in school and who recommends further initiatives when necessary

What can you do?

It is everyone’s responsibility when it comes to maintaining effective e-safety practices in your school. With this is mind, it is always prudent to look at what information is available publicly online for all teaching and non-teaching staff. With the growing amount of social media channels that are readily available today, educating everyone on how to correctly set up privacy settings is an important factor when it comes to safeguarding children and upholding the reputation of your school. As part of ongoing staff training it is recommended that everyone looks at what information can be accessed on public profiles, and steps are put in place to protect this information. Common social media platforms can include:

  • Facebook 

  • Twitter

  • Instagram

  • LinkedIn

  • Instagram

  • Snapchat

  • Whatsapp

It is also worth looking at public information made readily available on your school website. You may have a password secured area of your website that has been set up for Governors, Ofsted or even Parents. It is worth thinking about the type of information that is stored in these areas, and what would be the repercussions if this information was to be made public. Is there a risk of passwords falling into the wrong hands? Does our staff list give out too much public info, such as full names or email addresses?

Child E-Safety Issues

We can set up e-safety policies, procedures and filtering solutions to our hearts content, but the greatest tool at our disposal is education, and showing children how to appropriately recognise and handle e-safety issues. One way of achieving this is to embed this knowledge from a very young age, which will include an e-safety curriculum that develops an understanding of the below issues:

  • Cyberbullying

  • Making personal information public

  • Disclosing financial information

  • Viewing sexually explicit, racist, violet or extremist content

  • Commercialism

  • Sexting

  • Downloads / Spyware

Develop Parent Training

While schools can take steps to safeguard children with the use of online technologies, it is largely down to the training that they receive in courses such as this one. It is all for nought if parents are also not properly informed themselves and can embed that education outside of school. Ofsted have recognised this as a major factor, and will now look to see what steps a school has taken to develop parent training.

“One in three parents say that they have had concerns or questions about their child’s

technology use in the last year, and 75% of parents are unaware of how to apply parental

control on their children’s phones”

- Ofcom 2014

With statistics like this, it is imperative that key information gets shared with parents to ensure they are they are confident in their children’s use of technology. Fortunately, there are many ways of achieving this, and there is a lot of information readily available to make this communication realistic.

E-Safety Checklist

Does your school have it covered? Many schools think this is the case. There is a broad spectrum on what e-safety can cover, and while the below checklist is by no means a complete specification, it is a great overview and what should be embedded within your school.

eSafety checklist

We hope this post has been useful to you and brought some of the key considerations of eSafety to you attention.

When it comes to eSafety, one of the biggest methods of combatting the issue is education. By educating both children and their parents, we will be best place to ensure the safety of children online, whether this is at home or in school.

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