Interpreting the Ofsted Requirements for E-safety - Part 4

This is the fourth and final of a series of articles looking at the demands of the Ofsted’s e-safety framework first published to inspectors in September 2012. The document has since seen a number of amendments, the latest of which was in April 2014.

In the last post, we focused at two areas of the framework policy document; Policies and Education. In this last blog we are going to look at the final two areas for consideration, those being Infrastructure and Monitoring & Evaluation.

Infrastructure

This part of the Ofsted e-safety framework concentrates on the aspects concerning the facilities, duties and responsibilities with regard to the school’s IT infrastructure.

In order to demonstrate good or outstanding practice with regard to e-safety, Ofsted will be looking to see if the school’s IT infrastructure meets a number of requirements:

  • The school’s infrastructure includes a ‘Recognised Internet Service Provider’ or Regional Broadband Consortium’.

  • The school has age-related filtering in place and that the filtering allows choice with regard to what staff and students can access and when that access is allowed.

  • - Schools should have in place a web traffic monitoring tool such as the one supplied by SWGfL
    - It is advisable that a school should analyse their web traffic at the very least once a month, preferably more often.

  • The filtering is pro-actively monitored in order that inappropriate sites that come to the attention of staff can be actively filtered.

  • When considering whether a site should be unfiltered, a number of questions should be asked of the web site:
    1. Are there clear reasons, associated with the school curriculum, for the site to become unfiltered?
    2. Is there any contentious content contained within the website?
    3. When logging on to the site, do users have to register?
    4. If, by allowing access, it could appear that the school is endorsing the site, does this create any problems?
    5. Are there any age-restrictions stated on the web site?
    6. If it is a site where students could upload content to it, what is the situation with regard to ownership of such material?
    7. If students can upload content to it, who can view the material?
    8. Are there any facilities for social-networking on the site that allows users to communicate?
    9. If this is a site is unfiltered so that students could use it outside of school hours, are there any issues with unsupervised access?
    10. Is there any evidence or content to suggest that the website has been created by a reliable organisation?

    When checking sites, it is doubtful that all the questions above would be answered positively and so schools would have to employ their own judgement as to whether the benefits of using the site outweigh any issues.

    Monitoring and Evaluation

    This section of the Ofsted framework focuses on how e-safety in the school is formally and professionally monitored and evaluated. With regard to good or outstanding practice, Ofsted is looking for certain aspects to be demonstrated:

  • Whether the e-safety risk assessment is taken seriously within the school.

  • - An example of this could be in the context of social networking, where the risk is foreseen that some situation could occur identified and a process put in place to alleviate it.
    - The use of monitoring software can help identify potential e-safety risks.

  • That the risk assessment is used to good affect to promote excellent e-safety practice both within and outside of the school environment.

  • - There is a common misconception that the stories in the media of students getting into problematic situations when using technology won’t occur in our schools, unfortunately this is just a case of ‘burying our heads in the sand’. Good or outstanding practice demands that risk should to be comprehensively identified by schools and mitigation processes implemented (if it can be) to deal with it.
    - All risk assessment and mitigation processes should be immersed in policy, it is suggested that there should be documented evidence of this, for example it could be recorded that risk assessment drove the identification of training requirements, the need for formal reporting procedures or a guidance document for the acceptable use of social networks. (There are resources available across E-safety Support to help support these outcomes)

  • Evidence that formally gathered data is used effectively to assess what impact e-safety practice is having on the school community and procedures and the manner in which this informs the strategy.

  • - It is suggested that any school should have a formal reflective process which is recorded, for example documented records of any issue that has occurred in school, whether the relevant policies and procedures were effective and whether they needed updating or modifying. Did the issue identify a need for additional staff training in the area concerned etc.

    This was the final article in the Interpreting Ofsted series. If you would like to add your comments or suggestions to help other schools, please use the comments section below.

    Written by Steve Gresty on May 15, 2014 08:57


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