Schools have a duty of care to protect their students from harm. How they accomplish this is through a safeguarding provision that includes many aspects of protection and support. This includes protecting children from maltreatment, helping vulnerable children, promoting safe care at home, in school and in the community. Today, a vital part of this safeguarding provision in schools is online safety.
Historically, the physical safety of children might have been at the top of the safety agenda but attitudes to online safeguarding are changing. In fact, the recent changes to legislation in the UK reflect this increasing focus on the importance of online safety in schools.
The updated, Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE) and Working together to safeguard children statutory guides demonstrate a shift in attitude. Supported by Ofsted and the Independent Schools Inspectorate schools now have proper guidance for the development and improvement of their safeguarding provision, and central to this is the role of online safety.
A change in mentality
There's been a dramatic change in the understanding we have of the risks that children face online, from bullying, grooming, exploitation, and extremist behaviour to their increased exposure to gaming technology. Gaming can bring plenty of issues like violence, inappropriate language, disclosure of unsuitable information and thanks to ubiquitous connectivity to the internet, communication, through these games, with adults.
The legislation in the UK supports more robust practices and training programmes about online safety designed for education and safeguarding leaders across the sector. These types of practices will go a long way to helping prevent online safety issues arising in the first place and dealing with those issues when they do arise. Schools are effective at managing online safety incidents when they take a whole school approach to safeguarding - effective escalation routes, regularly reviewed policies and procedures, appropriate filtering and monitoring systems and an education programme which supports the whole school community.
The right tools for online safety
While legislation and education of the school community are vital, schools also need the right technical infrastructure, along with updated and robust policies, procedures, and escalation routes. When it comes to protecting their students, schools should put in place the best technical solutions to assist with their goals. It is important to consider how best to use the reporting functionalities within these technologies to ensure all safeguarding incidents are identified, reported and escalated in line with the schools policies.
The role of filtering and monitoring
Online safety, in practice, is the major concern with making sure that children are safeguarded from potentially harmful and inappropriate online activities and content. For this to happen, schools need to ensure appropriate filters and appropriate monitoring systems are in place. Ultimately, the best solution is a mix of intuitive filtering and sophisticated monitoring. The combination of both is a much more effective tool for safeguarding than 'over-blocking' with filters. This is reflected by legislation, namely the ‘Keeping children safe in education’ guidance document by the Department for Education.
The guidance document states that monitoring should support open access to the internet without "unreasonable restrictions as to what children can be taught with regard to online teaching and safeguarding."
Online safety isn’t about autocratic, fundamental denial of access to information. It’s about educating and promoting positive and healthy practices for students online. And effective monitoring can alert schools to what children are trying to access instead of over-blocking and remaining in the dark.
RM Education has what
your school needs
RM education offer a combination of consultancies, training and accreditation as well as cutting-edge monitoring and filtering solutions. So, when it comes to your online safety processes, you can adopt a whole school approach.
Schools need to make sure an online safety strategy is part of their safeguarding provision. We work with the school to develop their whole school approach to online safety. This will include analysis of and gaps to your online safety provision, areas for improvement, guidance for best practice and recommended responses to safety breaches. We also run tailored training workshops that cover important online safety issues and help keep staff as prepared as possible. In addition, we’ll review of your online safety policy and acceptable use policy and provide a written report and personalised action plan.
Filtering and monitoring
RM Education’s filtering product, RM SafetyNet, is simple to use and blocks inappropriate content without hindering a student’s ability to learn. Our sophisticated monitoring solution can swiftly identify issues and alert you to any online behaviour that warrants concern, providing both reassurance and compliance that meets Department of Education guidance and UK Safer Internet standards.
Online Safety Review Tool
Our online review will help you see how you fit within the legislation – the review covers training, policies, practice and reporting. Then, once we've identified your needs, we sit down with SLT, DSL, parents and governors to look at common issues and how you've dealt with them in the past. Take our free Online Safety review now.
Why RM Education?
RM Education understand safeguarding because we only work in the education sector. We have been providing technology for schools for over forty years and are committed to providing best-in-class safeguarding solutions that stay ahead of the curve.
- We can recommend products, upgrade solutions services and help you get accreditation
- We'll help define incident reporting routes and escalation procedures
- We'll provide training for students, parents, teachers and governing bodies
We make sure your school’s policies and procedures are aligned with both this change in mentality around online safety and in accordance with legislation.
Take our free Online Safety Review to discover your safeguarding abilities.