What online safety support can I expect from my child’s school?

Mark Bentley of London Grid for Learning gives advice on what schools are doing to build on children knowledge of online safety

Safeguarding lead Michael Bell and online safety expert Mark Bentley provide a short summary of the policies and the guidelines that schools use to help keep children safe online.

Safeguarding in schools

All schools in England are under a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of their pupils.

  • All children deserve a safe environment in which they can learn, this includes offline and online.
  • All school staff have a role to play in safeguarding children. If any staff member has a concern about a child they should act on it immediately.
  • All schools should have a designated safeguarding lead (DSL) who should be appointed from the senior leadership team and who will take lead responsibility of safeguarding and child protection (including online safety).
  • The DSL will often be the best point of contact for parents who have concerns about their child’s online safety at school.

Online safety requirements for schools

  • All schools must have regard to the statutory guidance- Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE).
  • Amongst other things KCSIE sets out:
  • That an effective approach to online safety empowers a school to protect and educate the whole school community in their use of technology and establishes mechanisms to identify, intervene in and escalate any incident where appropriate.
  • A whole school approach to online safety will include a clear policy on the use of mobile technology in the school. What that policy looks like is a matter for individual schools. If parents are unsure they should speak to the school.
  • All schools should have an effective child protection policy. It should be easily accessible for parents as it should be published on the schools website or available by other means if necessary.
  • All school staff should undergo safeguarding and child protection training (including online safety) at induction. The training should be regularly updated.
    • School should ensure appropriate filters and monitoring systems are in place to protect children from accessing harmful and inappropriate online material whilst on the schools IT systems.
    • UK Safer Internet Centre provides guidance as to what “appropriate” might look like.
  •  Annex C in KCSIE covers online safety and provides schools with a list of useful resources. Many of these resources are just as relevant for parents.

Schools should teach children about safeguarding, including online safety.  This should be considered as part of providing a broad and balanced curriculum and many schools will utilise PSHE. The PSHE association provide guidance for schools on developing their PSHE curriculum.

  • E-safety is also covered at all key stages in the national curriculum for computing. It is compulsory in maintained schools and can be used as a benchmark by academies and free schools. Pupils are taught how to keep personal information private, how to use technology safely and respectfully, and where to go for help and support when they have concerns about content or contact on the internet or other online technologies.

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