Why E-safety Education is Essential at Primary School

With many of the headline stories in relation to e-safety largely involving teenagers, it’s easy to forget that children as young as 9 are reporting to have met strangers both online and subsequently offline. Many also claim to have been bothered or upset by something encountered online including sexual images. (Source: Haddon, Leslie; Livingstone, Sonia; and EU Kids Online Network (2012) EU Kids Online: national perspectives)

Further statistics from the Ofcom - Children and parents: media use and attitudes report 2013 indicate that:

  • 82% of 5-7 year olds and 96% of 8-11 year olds access the internet

  • 22% of 8-12 year olds who use the internet at home say they have a profile on Facebook, Bebo or MySpace (despite the minimum age at which you can have a profile on these sites being 13)

  • Only 43% of parents whose children used the internet at home had parental controls installed on the PC/ laptop/netbook that their children use
  • While these statistics are worrying enough, we must also remember that ‘internet access’ now comes in many forms, some of which may not be immediately obvious to younger (and indeed older) users. Take for example connecting to other players on a WII game or using an installed App on an iphone or tablet device. This is still ‘internet access’ and therefore the potential risks are inherent too.

    Placing security controls on computers and using child friendly search engines are no doubt a great starting point for younger children, but these actions are not guaranteed to filter out all the dangers. Arming students with some basic knowledge at an early age will help to reinforce e-safety awareness for when their natural curiosity inevitably leads them to an online area of possible danger.

    Amid all the stories of concern and risk, it’s also worth remembering that the internet does offer a rich environment for information and learning, so its use should be encouraged. As with many things in a child’s education, we must first show them how to do it safely under supervision, before letting them take control.

    Written by Safeguarding Essentials on October 31, 2013 16:52

    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

    E-safety – Facing the Facts

    As part of our partnership with Fantastict, a national provider of educational consulting and training services, Joe Basketts, Education Director at Fantastict, shares his thoughts on e-safety strategy.

    The new briefing paper from Ofsted (released September 2013), is much more detailed and comprehensive than previous, making specific reference to an e-safety curriculum, how parents are engaged, training for staff and how the school website can contribute to informing parents and keeping them up to date. Reference is also made to schools that have obtained the E-Safety Mark or other recognised standard.

    The Ofsted briefing paper lists indicators of inadequate practice as:

  • Personal data is often unsecured and/or leaves school site without encryption

  • Security of passwords is ineffective, for example passwords are shared or are common with all but the youngest of children

  • Policies are generic and not updated

  • There is no progressive, planned e-safety education across the curriculum, for example there is only an assembly held annually

  • There is no internet filtering or monitoring

  • There is no evidence of staff training

  • Children are not aware of how to report a problem.
  • Understanding responsibilities with regard to e-safety is the first step towards achieving Good or Outstanding practice. However, the critical success factors lie in having the knowledge and skills to translate this understanding into workable strategies and processes within the school environment.

    There is a wealth of support available to assist schools in raising e-safety standards in line with the new guidance, an excellent example of this being E-Safety Support. Given the breadth of materials and sources available, it can sometimes be difficult to navigate the choices and identify which are most relevant to specific needs or will help address the most pressing issues.

    At the same time, some learning experiences are much more effective when supported by directed or face-to-face training. For example, online resources are excellent for providing insight into a topic, but cannot replace valuable peer-to-peer engagement which can only truly be realised through group workshops.

    In the same way as some content is better delivered in a workshop environment, when it comes to e-safety and indeed wider ICT and school strategies, external benchmarking will also provide great insight and a fresh perspective. For example, 360 Safe is a leading audit tool which can give a complete picture of a school’s current e-safety policy and practice. Working with an approved 360 Safe consultant, the school can then prepare a development plan which ensures the very best practice according to Ofsted guidelines.

    As with any aspect of school operations, understanding where you are as compared to where you need and want to be, is an essential part of strategy development – and a process where an external viewpoint and objectivity can help save a lot of valuable time and add significant value.

    Written by Joe Basketts on October 22, 2013 09:26


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