A back to basics explanation of e-safety in relation to schools
Back in 2012, Ofsted added e-safety to their school inspection requirements, placing more demands on the school timetable, school budgets and school staff. These requirements extended way beyond the classroom, encompassing the “whole school community” within the schools expected scope of delivery.
But now, almost 3 years later, it’s still easy to find staff members in schools who are unclear as to what e-safety is, let alone know who is responsible for making it part of the school agenda. Is it ICT? Is it pastoral? Is it SLT? In our experience, it’s everyone!
There are many statistics regarding the use of ‘connected devices’, incidents of cyber bullying and indeed teachers falling foul of inappropriate use of social media which support the need for e-safety awareness across the school, but what is e-safety?.
Firstly, let’s tackle the term ‘e-safety’. This can also be called ‘internet safety’, ‘online safety’ or ‘web safety’. E-safety is often defined as the safe and responsible use of technology. This includes the use of the internet and also other means of communication using electronic media (eg text messages, gaming devices, email etc).
In practice, e-safety is as much about behaviour as it is electronic security. E-safety in this context is classified into three areas of risk:
- Content: being exposed to illegal, inappropriate or harmful material
- Contact: being subjected to harmful online interaction with other users
- Conduct: personal online behaviour that increases the likelihood of, or causes, harm.
Quoting directly from the Ofsted inspection briefing, e-safety (in the context of an inspection) is described as the school’s ability:
- to protect and educate pupils and staff in their use of technology
- to have the appropriate mechanisms to intervene and support any incident where appropriate.
A good way to see how your school fairs against the Ofsted requirements it to ask yourself these 5 questions:
- How do you ensure that all staff receive appropriate online safety training that is relevant and regularly up to date?
- What mechanisms does the school have in place to support pupils and staff facing online safety issues?
- How does the school educate and support parents and whole school community with online safety?
- Does the school have e-safety policies and acceptable use policies in place? How does the school know that they are clear and understood and respected by all?
- Describe how your school educates children and young people to build knowledge, skills and capability when it comes to online safety? How do you assess its effectiveness?
These questions, along with examples of good / outstanding practice can be found here
It is essential that all members of school staff (teaching and non-teaching) are aware of e-safety and their own responsibilities when using the vast array of technologies now available for both personal and professional use. For pupils, it is no longer acceptable to simply have a firewall in place to prevent them accessing certain sites from the school network – the vast majority have a connected device in their pocket they could use instead, making education on this topic essential. And parents must also be made aware of e-safety to ensure that good practice continues outside of school grounds.
For more information about e-safety for staff, E-safety Support members can download a guide to E-safety from your dashboard. If you are not an E-safety Support member and would like a copy of this report, join our free membership package.