Interpreting the Ofsted Requirements for E-safety

Text BookIn September 2012, Ofsted issued the first briefing to its inspectors instructing them on how they should inspect e-safety in the schools they attend. The inspection authority’s ‘Inspecting e-safety in schools’ document has been updated regularly, with the last amendment being published at the start of this year.

The briefing has caused a fair degree of confusion within schools, with regard to interpreting its stipulations. What e-safety requirements school leadership should have in place with regard to their staff and students has caused the most uncertainty.

The document highlights a number of key features of good and outstanding practice, which cover a number of areas. Within this and subsequent blogs, we will look at the individual areas of the briefing and suggest how schools may deliver particular aspects successfully, in the eyes of Ofsted (or indeed, other inspection authorities) and to the benefit of schools.

Key Features of Good and Outstanding Practice - Whole school consistent approach

1. All teaching and non-teaching staff should have good recognition and awareness of e-safety issues.

This can be demonstrated by:

  • Having a repository of useful documents and articles relating to different aspects of e-safety.
  • - This gives helpful context when discussing e-safety in training sessions for staff as well as assisting students to understand during PSHE or ICT lessons focusing on e-safety.
    - Allows students and staff to keep up-to-date with new e-safety issues.
    - It also allows students and staff to privately browse the articles to improve recognition and awareness or help with projects relating to e-safety.
    - A repository can also be helpful when compiling an e-safety policy.
    - Can be used in school newsletters/websites to keep parents/guardians aware of modern e-safety issues to ensure that they can keep their children safe at home.

  • A comprehensive and up-to-date training scheme (see point 3)
  • 2. The senior management of schools have made e-safety a priority across all areas of the school.

    This can be demonstrated by:

  • The achievement of a recognised standard, such as the ‘E-safety mark’. The South-West Grid for Learning offers a free e-safety self-review tool to assist in achieving this standard.
  • The school having in place planned, comprehensive e-safety and safe-guarding programmes of study which must be embedded within all aspects of each year group’s curriculum such as within PSHE/ICT schemes of work, lesson plans and classroom resources.
  • Evidence of the use of a wide range of age-appropriate e-safety resources that utilise modern digital technologies to deliver e-safety information in an engaging manner for 21st century students.
  • Evidence of relevant and up-to-date e-safety content and safe-guarding facilities (reporting CEOP buttons etc.) contained within the school’s online presence such as its VLE, learning platform or website.
  • The school should ensure that e-safety and safe-guarding are also embedded in other school activities such as extended school provision.
  • The school e-safety plan possessing breadth and progression such as evidence that an audit of e-safety provision is regularly carried out and, if areas of improvement or development are identified, these should be addressed in a timely manner.
  • Students possessing knowledge and awareness of e-safety issues and understanding the importance of following the school’s e-safety and acceptable use policies. This can be addressed in relevant lessons and assemblies.
  • Programmes whereby students are involved in e-safety education such as peer-monitoring or student-led assemblies.
  • Effective education, monitoring and protection of vulnerable students who may be at risk from both their own online activities and those of others.
  • 3. Training in e-safety has been given a high priority in order to increase both expertise and internal knowledge capacity.

    This could be demonstrated by:

  • Provision of recognised comprehensive programmes of e-safety training for teaching and non-teaching staff across the whole school by organisations such as Fantastict or E2BN.
  • Use of resources provided by www.e-safetysupport.com and other online e-safety information providers to support staff awareness training.
  • Comprehensive use of resources such as the videos available from CEOP to train students to seriously consider their personal online actions and behaviour.
  • 4. They value the contribution that students, their parents and the wider community can make and that this is integrated into the whole school e-safety strategy.

    This could be demonstrated by:

  • The implementing of clear channels of reporting of potential e-safety issues by both students and parents. These could take the form of:
  • - Nominated, trained individual members of staff and peer-monitors that parents or students could approach personally in the event of an e-safety issue.
    - A specific email address or telephone contact that parents use to alert the school of potential issues or to request advice on e-safety.
    - Regular in-school events to allow dialogue to take place between parents and teaching staff where advice and information could be offered regarding e-safety and safe-guarding issues.
    - Promoting access to parents to the school’s repository of articles and resources in order to raise awareness and knowledge of e-safety issues at home.

    These are just some suggestions on how you may develop your e-safety provision. If you would like to share your thoughts on implementing e-safety policy and practice in your school, we would love to hear from you. Please use the comments form below.

    Further ideas on how to demonstrate key features of good and outstanding practice will be brought to you in future articles.

    Written by Steve Gresty on January 23, 2014 12:48

    The Tablet Revolution and E-safety Education

    E-safety TabletAs the latest sales figures for the Christmas shopping frenzy begin being released, it’s no surprise that technological gadgets are leading the charge.

    It is reported that Microsoft sold 364,000 Xbox Ones while Sony sold 530,000 PS4s in the UK in the lead up to Christmas. The sale of digital games (which includes mobile gaming, PC and console downloads) is said to have grown by 16.4% taking it to a value of £1.18 billion and video games have also grown in the UK by 6.6% overall in 2013.

    However, it is the ‘tablet revolution’ which makes the most striking impact on our engagement with the online world. Post Christmas sales figures estimate that 12-13 million units were sold in the UK which means that now over half of the UK population now owns or has access to a tablet. This huge leap has been fuelled by the emergence of retailer branded tablets (from the likes of Argos and Tesco) which are available at a much cheaper price than the market leading iPad – making tablets more financially accessible to more people.

    The BBC recently reported that over the Christmas period, viewing of their iPlayer service saw mobile devices overtake computers for the first time - with access to the internet now so readily available it’s easy to understand why.

    So where does e-safety come into all of this?

    I spoke to colleagues, family and friends in the lead up to Christmas and found that the youngest request for a tablet came from 7 year olds – and some of them were getting their wish. Of course iPhones, laptops and consoles were also popular across all ages too.

    So Christmas morning comes and the excited child (or indeed adult!) opens up the tiny box sitting under the tree to reveal the shiny new tablet and they are away - with full access to the internet. But how many of the parents set up filters, or activated parental controls before they wrapped the gift? I suspect far fewer than were prepared to admit.

    It is this freedom to roam the internet, warts-n-all, that adds weight to the argument for education over prohibition when it comes to e-safety. It’s all very well having filters on school systems and parental controls on PCs at home, but with so many more children now having the world at their fingertips they not only have the ability to access the wealth of information available online but also can potentially become susceptible to the dangers that the environment offers too.

    Written by Safeguarding Essentials on January 09, 2014 09:35

    Are you online offline?

    For large swathes of the global population, the notion of whether a person is considered ‘Online’ is somewhat of a redundant question.

    The relatively rapid migration from dial-up Internet connection, to perpetually connected broadband and mobile wireless high speed data access has had a radical impact on what it means to be ‘online’.

    In the not too distant past, the phrase “Are you online?” was a euphemistic enquiry as to whether or not one had entered in to some kind of contract with an Internet Service Provider.

    More recently the same phrase could be a question asking whether a person was actually logged in or connected to any given service at that point in time.

    Recently I have seen a trend which has confused things further. It seems that the term ‘Online’ is being used to refer to something that happens through a Web browser as if somehow other platforms interacting with remote services over the Internet are in some way not ‘online’.

    For instance, it is now quite common for a TV advert to end with a phrase such as “Order online, or use our smartphone app”. This is quite meaningless. Strictly speaking it is the phone itself that is online i.e. the point of connection, but regardless of this arguably pedantic point, neither the advertiser’s Web site or their App can be used for ordering without being ‘online’.

    Does the lack of precision on the use of the term ‘online’ here confuse? Do people think that they are not ‘online’ if they are using an app? Does it matter? Possibly not and maybe the less technical term of being ‘connected’ will suffice.

    However, there is a very interesting question about perception exposed here. For instance, although a Web page open within a browser may refresh with updated information from time to time or even in real time while it is open (most in fact do not), closing the browser or navigating away from that site severs the communication.

    This is not true of an App. Although not all apps will need to exploit the mechanism, a modern smart phone app once opened is often still 'running' and processing in the background even when you switch your attention to another app. Further, modern smart phones tend to have features within the operating system which allow the phone itself to interact with some parts of the app’s online data source even if the app is not currently running. This is the mechanism which for instance provides alert notifications from Facebook or ebay.

    This is all further complicated by the fact that many people, whether they realise it or not still have an online presence even if they were in the middle of a forest, out of range of any cell connectivity with all their devices switched off, batteries removed and placed in a lead lined box and buried in a field.

    This is because many of the utilities and services with which we engage on a daily basis, are still working on our behalf even when we are not connected to them. For instance, our Facebook profiles are still available for people to read and to post to, your online photo albums are still accessible, your blog posts can still attract comments. ‘You’ can be invited to events, and listed with others on an ‘attendees’ list. Depending on your profile setting you may instantly friend or follow back anyone that requests to connect with you. Recommendation engines from online shops, music on demand services or movie streaming services are churning data preparing lists of content they think you’ll be interested in - they may even automatically send you an email about their findings.

    In short, the online ghost of your data and meta-data still reflects your presence and represents your likes, activities and habitual interactions for people and software alike to engage with. When you post a reply to someone’s comment on Facebook, the feeling is more akin to a direct contact with them than for instance sending an email, even if your ‘friend’ isn’t currently logged in to Facebook. This is because the context of the interface personifies your ‘friend’ through their trail of activities. Of course you have a great deal of control over these things if you take a bit of care over your service settings.

    Additionally, so much of what happens in the physical world is driven by online data and decisions made online, that the notion of being in a position where you are unaffected by things ‘online’ is fallacy.

    From an E-safety perspective it is important that people understand the nature of perpetual connectivity and the fact that direct engagement with a service is no longer the only driver of activity.

    Putting up an umbrella may shelter you from the rain but it does not stop it raining, nor does it protect you from the effects of the river about to burst it’s banks a mile away. Likewise, switching off a device does not terminate your online activity, or your involvement in the activity of others.

    A recent naive post I saw on twitter suggested that the poster had no “sympathy for those moaning about cyber bullying” because they should “just turn off their computer.” Logging off of a social network does not curtail cyber bullying or neutralise the waves that it causes in the physical world. Like many aspects of E-safety, problems are best tackled by action and education in the real world.

    These are tough concepts, but digital communications technology is such a useful tool and has such positive potential that it is worth the effort to understand and to ensure that the first principles are taught to our children so that they can apply the understanding as technology continues to evolve.

    Media studies was once derided by many as a ‘Mickey Mouse subject’. However, in a society where mass media has such a profound influence on our perceptions, understanding and opinions, can any rational person really argue against the value of educating people to critically evaluate the messages, meaning, contextualisation and veracity of the information we receive and the motivations of those presenting it?

    Likewise, in a world where so much of our interaction and engagement is mediated by communications technology, how can we not recognise the importance of teaching the fundamental underpinnings and the modes and models of the interaction?



    Photo from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Written by Safeguarding Essentials on December 04, 2013 17:31


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