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

    E-safety Dynamic and Proactive Policies, Practices and Procedures through Dedicated Time for Lead Teachers

    E-safety, as an aspect of the school curriculum, is a dynamic entity and an essential component in safeguarding.

    Consequently, e-safety policies and practices can be viewed as having two strands. First of all, known risks in relation to privacy, contact with strangers and accessing inappropriate material (such as violence, pornography and hate sites, for example) remain a constant. In one respect, the key messages that need to be communicated to children are static and unchanging. For instance, not divulging personal details and contact information via social media and networking websites and the steps children can take when confronted with online material and communications that make them feel uncomfortable.

    However, the rate of technological developments and digital applications demands e-safety policies and practices need to evolve and progress as and when new issues and concerns surface. It is this balance between static, or core e-safety education (which can be covered as a series of planned assemblies, an appropriate scheme of work and day-to-day highlighting of issues), and an appropriate reactive and proactive response, the non-static nature of e-safety, that poses the significant challenge for schools.

    Let us take a relatively recent example. Sending photographs via text message, email and sharing online through social networking websites has been with us for a while now. It is reasonable to suggest that the potential for images to be copied, altered, forwarded and put into the public domain (whether for positive purposes or driven by more malicious intentions) is known and understood. With the advent of Snapchat, digital communications can be sent with the assurance they will effectively ‘self-destruct’ after several seconds and be deleted from devices and servers. Schools are then in the position of needing to rapidly respond to a form of digital communication and sharing of media that has the potential to undermine previous work with children on e-safety: if the evidence of cyber-bullying or inappropriate communications doesn’t exist, then all that is left is the impact on victims and the courage of others not to act as bystanders.

    So, where does the static and dynamic model of e-safety leave those who develop policies and practices in school? Clearly, there is a need for the lead on e-safety to have sufficient time to be able to respond to more established issues in this area as well as emerging issues or anticipated safeguarding problems by having a current knowledge and understanding of technological and digital developments.

    An e-safety policy should acknowledge that the lead has dedicated time to ensuring practices are proactive and not simply reactive. There is a need to protect time for the lead to regularly review and update Acceptable Use Policies for both staff and children as well as consider how parents and carers can be made aware of potential dangers and risks as technological and digital developments continue to progress at a rapid pace. Dissemination of information related to new risks and responsible use issues also requires the lead to invest time in continued professional development to ensure all colleagues have the knowledge and understanding to address e-safety.

    Of course, stating that e-safety policies and procedures are in place (from a dedicated lead with adequate time for the role through to parental engagement) is different from accounting for the impact of steps taken. Evidence of impact, both qualitative and quantitative, is necessary to evaluate the success of e-safety education within the school to inform future priorities and demonstrate to OFSTED that this area of safeguarding has a high profile and the policies, practices and procedures in place are embedded. Once again, this brings us back to the need for an e-safety lead with adequate time dedicated to this area of work in schools.

    So, how can this be taken forward in practice? A good starting point is to audit the current position using the questions below. Where an aspect is not in place or needs review and attention, then this should form the basis of action planning and projecting the time necessary to address these areas for development.

  • Is there a dedicated e-safety lead in place?

  • Does the school have an e-safety policy? Is it updated on a regular basis and in response to emerging issues?

  • Is there acceptable use document for children? What about a user agreement for staff?

  • Has there been staff training related to e-safety? Does this include all staff groups? For example, teachers, leadership and management as well as support staff.

  • Is there a proactive approach to getting e-safety messages across to children? For example, a planned series of assemblies, a scheme of work and so on.

  • Are parents and carers involved in the school’s e-safety work?
  • By establishing a baseline in relation to these areas, formulating a plan of action, schools can therefore progress towards stronger e-safety provision and develop clarity in the impact on the school, staff, pupils and parents and carers.



    If you would like to share your thoughts on the issues raised in this article, please let us know by using the comments section below

    Written by Jazz Williams on November 28, 2013 11:36

    A school e-safety policy is so much more than a set of rules

    In the months since the inclusion of e-safety as part of the Ofsted inspection criteria, many schools are beginning to come to terms with the e-safety inspection criteria which includes; having a whole school consistent approach, developing robust and integrated reporting routines, having staff training and responsibilities identified, delivering age appropriate education, having the correct infrastructure, monitoring and evaluation, management of personal data and last but certainly not least, a school e-safety policy.

    In the most recent Ofsted ‘Inspecting e-safety in schools’ briefing, they identify key features of good or outstanding practice for e-safety policies as:

  • Rigorous e-safety policies and procedures are in place, written in plain English, contributed to by the whole school, updated regularly and ratified by governors.

  • The e-safety policy should be integrated with other relevant policies such as behaviour, safeguarding and anti-bullying.

  • The e-safety policy should incorporate an Acceptable Usage Policy that is understood and respected by pupils, staff and parents.
  • Significantly, there is only one indicator of inadequate practice:

  • Policies are generic and not updated.
  • It is easy to see why schools could fall into the latter category, not least because the e-safety inspection is a relatively new addition to the Ofsted inspection and may not yet be fully integrated with the other school procedures and policies. Downloading a 'one size fits all' policy template from the internet is a quick fix, but isn’t ideal and indeed, not a satisfactory solution where Ofsted in concerned.

    If e-safety issues are global and the associated risks applicable to all young people, why is an off-the-shelf policy inadequate. The answer to this lies with the whole school community involvement. If a policy were aimed at just students in a single year group, then it’s possible that a generic policy could well stand up to interrogation. However, add several more year groups, plus their parents and not forgetting their teachers, governors – the entire school community – and the parameters for the policy become vastly different.

    Each school will have a different relationship with its stakeholders – some school may have a locked down IT systems which prevent certain websites within the school, however once outside the school environment, pupils could have unrestricted access. This situation would require a different policy for pupils and parents to those which allow unrestricted (but monitored) access to the internet.

    Alternatively, a school may have a defined code of practice about personal social media accounts for teachers, while others may have accounts set up specifically for school use – again in each case, a different policy would be required.

    One area which all schools should have in common is the involvement of the students in the creation and implementation of the school e-safety policy – how this is applied however is again down to the individual school.

    These highlight just some of the areas where a policy would benefit from being unique to the school – let’s not forget, that there are several more areas from the Ofsted indicators that could also be interpreted differently. With all the possible variables, it becomes clearer why each school requires its own policy, even to the extent that schools sharing the same site could very well require different policies despite their shared location.

    On a final note, there is also the issue of a policy being ‘updated’. While the digital landscape is constantly changing and schools are become more e-safety aware, the school policy will need to be adjusted appropriately. There are no hard and fast rules about how frequently this will need to happen, but Ofsted suggest that a good policy should be updated regularly.

    If you would like to share your experience about implementing an e-safety policy in your school, we would love to hear from you – simply complete the comment section below.

    Written by Safeguarding Essentials on October 31, 2013 17:42


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