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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 88-90. Resources that could support schools and colleges include:

  • Be Internet Legends developed by Parent Zone and Google is a free internet safety curriculum with PSHE accredited lesson plans and teaching resources for Key Stage 2 pupils;
  • Disrespectnobody is Home Office advice and includes resources on healthy relationships, including sexting and pornography;
  • Education for a connected world framework from the UK Council for Internet Safety supports the development of the curriculum and is of particular relevance to RSHE education and Computing. It is designed, however, to be usable across the curriculum and beyond (covering early years through to age 18) and to be central to a whole school or college approach to safeguarding and online safety;
  • PSHE association provides guidance to schools on developing their PSHE curriculum;
  • Teaching online safety in school is departmental guidance outlining how schools can ensure their pupils understand how to stay safe and behave online as part of existing curriculum requirements;
  • Thinkuknow is the National Crime Agency/CEOPs education programme with age specific resources;
  • UK Safer Internet Centre developed guidance and resources that can help with the teaching of the online safety component of the Computing Curriculum.

Protecting children

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. [119] 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, 4G and 5G 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. UKCIS has published Online safety in schools and colleges: Questions for the governing board to help responsible bodies assure themselves that their online safety arraignments are effective.

Education at home

Where children are being asked to learn online at home the department has provided advice to support schools and colleges do so safely: safeguarding-in-schools-colleges- and-other-providers and safeguarding-and-remote-education

Staff training

Governors and proprietors should ensure that, as part of the requirement for staff to undergo regularly updated safeguarding training (paragraph 84) and the requirement to ensure children are taught about safeguarding, including online safety (paragraph 87), that online safety training for staff is integrated, aligned and considered as part of the overarching safeguarding approach.

[119] The Prevent duty Departmental advice for schools and childcare providers and Prevent Duty Guidance For Further Education Institutions

Information and support

There is a wealth of information available to support schools, colleges and parents/carers to keep children safe online. The following list is not exhaustive but should provide a useful starting point:

Advice for governing bodies/proprietors and senior leaders

Remote education, virtual lessons and live streaming

Support for children

Parental support

  • Childnet offers a toolkit to support parents and carers of children of any age to start discussions about their online life, to set boundaries around online behaviour and technology use, and to find out where to get more help and support;
  • Commonsensemedia provide independent reviews, age ratings, & other information about all types of media for children and their parents;
  • Government advice about protecting children from specific online harms such as child sexual abuse, sexting, and cyberbullying;
  • Government advice about security and privacy settings, blocking unsuitable content, and parental controls;
  • Internet Matters provide age-specific online safety checklists, guides on how to set parental controls on a range of devices, and a host of practical tips to help children get the most out of their digital world;
  • Let’s Talk About It provides advice for parents and carers to keep children safe from online radicalisation;
  • London Grid for Learning provides support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online, including tips to keep primary aged children safe online;
  • Lucy Faithfull Foundation StopItNow resource can be used by parents and carers who are concerned about someone’s behaviour, including children who may be displaying concerning sexual behaviour (not just about online);
  • National Crime Agency/CEOP Thinkuknow provides support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online;
  • Net-aware provides support for parents and carers from the NSPCC and O2, including a guide to social networks, apps and games;
  • Parentzone provides help for parents and carers on how to keep their children safe online;
  • Parent info from Parentzone and the National Crime Agency provides support and guidance for parents from leading experts and organisations;
  • UK Safer Internet Centre provide tips, advice, guides and other resources to help keep children safe online.