Online Safety in School and a Secure Online Environment

Author: Bethany Spencer

Posted: 04 May 2017

Estimated time to read: 4 mins

With more students than ever gaining access to online learning platforms‭, ‬Ofsted are continually adapting their guidelines to include more stringent inspections of online safety policy in schools across the UK‭. ‬It can be difficult to establish a balance between providing a secure online learning environment and giving students enough freedom to enhance their learning with technology‭. ‬This checklist aims to provide you with an overview of five simple steps you can take to implement a practical‭, ‬comprehensive‭ ‬online safety policy at your school‭.‬online safety in school and a secure online environment

1‭. ‬Implement a consistent‭, ‬whole-school approach

There is no better way to approach online safety than to arm your school community with the tools‭, ‬knowledge and resources they need to protect themselves online‭. ‬Ensure that your online safety policy is inclusive of parents‭, ‬guardians and students alike‭, ‬and that it is adaptable to the needs of the school community more broadly‭. ‬

A consistent approach is a successful one‭. ‬As a school‭, ‬SLT should implement a structural‭, ‬practical method to policy-making to ensure that all staff‭, ‬students and parents are regularly made‭ ‬aware of school guidelines and kept up to date with policy changes‭.‬

2‭. ‬Provide clear channels of communication

In order to implement a whole-school approach to online safety‭, ‬schools must engage fully with students‭, ‬parents and the school‭ ‬community at large‭. ‬This engagement requires clear and open channels of communication between all stakeholders‭, ‬where potential‭ ‬threats to online safety can be safely reported and efficiently addressed‭. ‬

Encourage feedback and offer both advice and resources to ensure that your school community feels supported and engaged in your approach to online learning‭.‬

3‭. ‬Establish a transparent online safety policy

Your online safety policy should be clear‭, ‬concise and regularly updated to reflect current Ofsted expectations‭. ‬Easily accessible to all students‭, ‬parents and staff members‭, ‬your policy is there to ensure that everyone is on the same page‭, ‬and help you get the most out of e-learning‭. ‬

Online safety need not be taught as a subject in it’s own right‭, ‬but should be deeply embedded alongside other crucial elements of the curriculum‭. ‬Ensure that school policies such‭ ‬as homework‭, ‬anti-bullying and behaviour have been adapted to remain relevant in the context of digital learning‭.‬

4‭. ‬Supply regular‭, ‬high quality‭, ‬inclusive training

Ofsted recommends that all staff‭ (‬both teaching and non-teaching‭) ‬receive regular training in online safety awareness‭. ‬Due to the fast-paced nature of technology it is crucial to remain as well-informed as possible‭. ‬

Schools should ensure that all staff members are aware of how technologies‭ ‬like instant messaging and social media channels work so that you are in a position to ensure that they are not misused‭. ‬Teachers are fully educated in how to deal with cyberbullying‭, ‬online exploitation and potential threats to data security‭. ‬Ideally‭, ‬at least one staff member should be trained and accredited as an E-Safety Officer‭. ‬

5‭. ‬Ensure resources are both up-to-date and available‭ ‬

An effective online safety policy is one which is both positive and inclusive‭. ‬Ensure that you make resources readily available‭ ‬for students to educate themselves in their own time‭. Provide parents‭, ‬students and teachers with the online resources detailed‭ ‬below‭, ‬allowing all members of your school community to learn how to develop a positive‭, ‬informed and safe attitude to online learning‭.‬

Internet Watch Foundation‭ ‬‭(‬IWF‭)‬
UK Safer Internet Centre
CEOP‭ (‬Child Exploitation and Online Protection‭)‬
NSPCC Net Aware

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