Keeping children safe in the digital world has become an ever increasingly challenging task for school leaders and teachers. This challenge is augmented by the fact that young people nowadays grow up as sophisticated digital natives leaving the so-called adults far behind in terms of digital knowledge and know-how.
As we all know, in spite of this challenge, we can’t afford to be left behind; especially when children are in our care. As the online world becomes increasingly complex and e-learning becomes an integral part of school activity we need to find ever more innovative ways to keep children safe in this environment and it has become as essential to teach children how to stay safe in the digital world as it is in the real world. It is important to remember that what happens in the digital world is rarely confined to that realm. Instead, activity that takes place online often has far reaching effects on children in their everyday lives in the real world.
In response to the increase in potential online risk the UK Government has recognised this as a key area where school safeguarding strategies need to be strengthened. Following a consultation carried out by the Department for Education from December 2015 to February 2016, Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSiE) guidelines have now been updated to include a dedicated section on online safety with new requirements for schools to adhere to. These will come into effect on the 5th September and will be inspected as part of Ofsted’s Common Inspection Framework.
The guidance places the responsibility for online safety on all staff and encourages the development of a positive digital culture stating that ‘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 and escalate any incident where appropriate’ (Keeping Children Safe in Education, 2016).
“Technology has become a significant component of many safeguarding issues including radicalisation, child exploitation and sexual predation”
The guidance calls for all schools to employ effective online safeguarding mechanisms in order to empower children to recognise these as risks and know what to do when they encounter these. This means that every person in the school is responsible for the care of students when they are using the school’s ICT. In addition the guidelines now include a mandatory requirement for all schools to have an appropriate monitoring system in place by law.
The guidance uses the 3Cs to categorise online risk. Governing bodies, proprietors and school staff now need to be aware of these risks so that they can monitor and safeguard against them. These include:
- CONTENT: being exposed to illegal, inappropriate or harmful material
- CONTACT: being subjected to harmful online interaction with other users
- CONDUCT: personal online behaviour that increases the likelihood of, or causes, harm.
How can Future Digital help your school?
RM Education has partnered with Future Digital to help schools safeguard the students in their care when they are online and to fulfil their legislative duty in relation to the Prevent duty. Future Digital software can also help schools to fulfil the KCSiE mandate by ensuring that schools have a robust monitoring system in place.
As the digital environment continues to change rapidly, it is essential that schools are aware of changes to online activities and behaviours. These might be specific to your school, local area or be a more widely adopted trend across an age group. Future Digital’s solutions allow schools to gather vital information that will help your school pre-empt possible risk.
y using our monitoring system you will be able to demonstrate clear compliance with KCSiE’s mandatory legislative requirement. But much more than that, Future Digital solutions help you to develop a complete view of your students’ online behaviour and activity so that you can identify and anticipate potential risk. The software ensures that your staff have the tools in place to help keep children safe online while also guiding them to develop into responsible digital citizens.
About Marie Bailey
Marie is Sales Director at Future Digital and is an expert in e-safety and safeguarding solutions for education having worked within sales and marketing for the IT Education market for over 20 years.
Initially working with Clifton Reed Consultants, Marie helped establish the company as a market leader in the provision of IT systems to grant maintained schools as well as establishing “Ranger” network control and management software.
Marie joined Future Digital in 2013 and has played a pivotal role in establishing the company and helping to develop Future Digital's innovative and leading edge safeguarding solutions.
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