Five more FACTS you must understand about the latest ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ guidance from the Department for Education.

Although there’s little doubt that the increasing use of technology in schools is a huge plus for academic learning, there’s also no mistaking that it’s a platform open to abuse - in every sense of the word. Last week I shared a series of facts about the latest “Keeping Children Safe in Education” guidance from the Department for Education which I hope you found useful and thought provoking. This week I wanted to share 5 more facts that you may find surprising. Either way, I hope you find them interesting and useful – the pressure really is on to put in place an effective approach to online safety: if you haven’t already, it’s definitely time to review and assess your safeguarding measures.

Fact 6. If you adopt a ‘top 10’ approach to your threat libraries, you could lose visibility of serious threats

The high volume of false-positives associated with software monitoring solutions often forces schools to adopt a ‘top10’ approach, focusing on incidents by volume. In an attempt to manage the volume of activity that comes through markers can be removed. It is vital that experienced and trained specialists make these decisions based on a robust volume of evidence.

At e-Safe we recognise that the ICT environment is a rich source of behaviour markers and believe, therefore, it is important that all incidents are reviewed. Typically, the more serious behaviours do not occur in volume and a ‘top 10’ approach or the removal of a marker can easily result in the complete loss of visibility of a serious safeguarding risk. Large volumes of benign incidents easily mask the single subtle marker of life threatening behaviour, or illegal activity, and at e-Safe all incidents are reviewed by experts skilled in behaviour monitoring.

Fact 7. For over 1m students, in primary and secondary education, English is a second language

Recent figures from the DfE show that the number of pupils, aged five and upwards, speaking other languages has doubled in the past decade, reaching a record high of just over a million. You need to understand the languages and cultural references of the children and young people in your care to ensure that risks, irrespective of the language or cultural context, are identified.

Safeguarding risk may be wholly or partly written in a foreign language script, a foreign language written using an English keyboard (Romanised), include slang or text-speak variants, or reflect a cultural meaning which doesn’t translate to English. All of this must be detected to ensure safeguarding risks are visible.

With highly advanced software, and honed threat libraries (that include 1000s of markers across multiple languages), e-Safe has a unique ability to detect risks in any language, in any text. Importantly, the e-Safe monitoring team is multi-lingual with a rich knowledge of different cultures - vital skills for interpreting and assessing the true meaning of words, phrases, slang and text speak in different languages.

Fact 8. Almost 1/3 of incidents happen offline - in the evenings, weekends and holidays

Most monitoring software solutions, and all filtering solutions that offer a degree of keyword detection, are focused on online activity, usually onsite. This means that the significant volume of incidents that happen offline - in the evenings, weekends and holidays - are invisible to the safeguarding team. Therefore, in order to be truly effective, monitoring of school owned devices can’t be confined to school premises in school hours, as incidents are happening off site, offline and out of hours. What is needed is monitoring 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The advanced e-Safe monitoring agent ensures that activity on school owned devices is monitored constantly, even when offline. Incidents that happen out of hours are reviewed 24/7, 365 days a year - and those requiring immediate intervention are escalated in real-time, directly by telephone, to ensure effective intervention, protection and support for the individual, and minimal reputation risk for the school.

Fact 9. The markers of the more serious threats are much more likely to be imagery based

While digital content must be monitored for words and phrases in any language, extreme behaviour markers are often detected through imagery, typically moving imagery, on webcam, chat roulette and encrypted applications like Skype. For example, 95% of online child abuse is imagery based. It is vital that the detection technology doesn’t only rely on text or meta data to detect these areas, it must have the capability to monitor static and moving images in isolation.

With unique image detection technology, e-Safe ensures that static, video and webcam activity - which is not accompanied by text or meta data - is visible too.

Fact 10. Secondary schools have one serious safeguarding incident per week that requires immediate intervention

Intelligence sourced from monitoring over the last four years tells us that secondary schools are identifying and dealing with one serious safeguarding risk each week. Serious risks cover illegal and life threatening activity, including threats of violence, radicalisation, terrorism, substance abuse, grooming, child abuse, sexualisation, FGM and pornography. If you aren’t seeing this level of risk in your establishment, it’s probable that your monitoring solution isn’t successful in making this visible.

For further information about e-Safe, and how it can form the basis of a comprehensive safeguarding strategy, please contact us directly.

For more information, advice and guidance around our online safety solutions, visit www.rm.com/onlinesafety


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