Online Safeguarding, as we know, is a very serious matter, and as such there needs to be a whole school standardised approach to dealing with matters of concern. This standardised approach is your e-safety policy.
As we all know, it isn’t necessarily incidents that happen in the school, but commonly it is incidents of behaviour that are taking place outside the school gates, that the school is expected to deal with. This is why a consistent, co-ordinated approach across the school is so important.
But whilst safeguarding and e-safety is a whole school matter, clearly there are roles within the school that need to take the lead and commonly these roles are:
- The Governing body
- The Senior leadership team
- The ICT co-ordinator and IT support
- Pastoral staff
All of these roles need to work together to ensure a clear, consistent approach to dealing with matters of concern.
First let’s consider the governing body.
Governors have a very important strategic role; they will be there to support the school in setting high standards and developing or reviewing policies.
In the case of the e-safety policy governors must review and endorse this policy either annually or in response to an incident. In order to review policy and ensure the high standards of the school it is vital that governors have a good, in-depth knowledge of online risks, Ofsted e-safety inspection standards as well as e-safety within the national curriculum. It’s important that Governors receive adequate training in this area and are fully aware of their duties to protect and support all members of their school community.
From the SLT perspective, it will commonly be a single member of the senior leadership team that will have the strategic responsibility for e-safety within the school, although this is wholly dependent on the size of the school. The senior leadership team will ensure that the e-safety policy is written in a way that is consistent and gives due regard to other school policies such as safeguarding, behaviour and anti-bullying before submitting the e-safety policy to governors to ratify and endorse. The designated member/s of SLT should then act as the single point of contact for all e-safety issues within the school and should ensure that policies are embedded, current and adhered to.
Next we have the ICT Co-ordinator. Commonly within primary schools, the ICT co-ordinator has the day-to-day responsibility for e-safety at the school. At secondary schools or their independent school or academy equivalent this role is usually given to the Head of ICT. This role is particularly important now that e-safety is embedded into the national curriculum for computing from September 2014. There are key aspects to e-safety across all key stages and so the designated person needs to ensure that, in the words of the Department for Education, the curriculum must be balanced and broadly based, and which:
- Promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society
- Prepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life
In practice e-safety shouldn’t just be the remit of ICT and so it is a good idea to consider cross-curricular aspects within PSHE too as part of whole school planning. And then we have pastoral staff. I doubt anyone would argue that the majority of incidents that schools have to deal with are happening outside of school. In this regard school pastoral staff will have an in-depth knowledge of incidents that are having negative effects on behaviour both inside and outside the school gates. Typically these incidents would be related to such things as online bullying, falling out over social media posts, or more serious incidents such as sexting and others.
Lastly, all school staff have a responsibility to ensure that pupils using ICT, in any context, are reminded about appropriate behaviour on a regular basis. Staff should be fully aware of the e-safety policy and appropriate strategies and processes they should adopt if they encounter problems.