What is online safety?

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Safeguarding children online

What is the issue?

Schools have the opportunity to transform education and help pupils fulfil their potential and raise standards with ICT. But it’s also important that pupils learn how to be safe when they are using these new technologies, particularly technologies such as social networking sites, which are becoming an essential aspect of productive and creative social learning.

Schools are finding that a blocking and banning approach, which merely limits exposure to risk, may no longer be a sustainable approach. Children will experiment online and while their confidence and enthusiasm for using new technologies may be high, their understanding of the opportunities and risks may be low, as will their ability to respond to any issues they encounter. Schools need to focus on a model of empowerment; equipping children with the skills and knowledge they need to use technology safely and responsibly, and managing the risks, wherever and whenever they go online; to promote safe and responsible behaviours in using technology both at school and in the home and beyond.

“Children and young people need to be empowered to keep themselves safe – this isn’t just about a top-down approach. Children will be children – pushing boundaries and taking risks. At a public swimming pool we have gates, put up signs, have lifeguards and shallow ends, but we also teach children how to swim.”

Professor Tanya Byron, BSc., MSc., PsychD., FRSA
- Safer children in a digital world:
The report of the Byron Review
What risks do we need to guard against?

The Byron Review classified the risks as relating to content, contact and conduct. The risk is often determined by behaviours rather than the technologies themselves.

Commercial Aggressive Sexual Values
(Child as recipient)
Personal Info.
Violent/hateful content Pornographic or unwelcome sexual content Bias
Misleading info/advice
(Child as recipient)
Harvesting personal info
Being bullied, harassed or stalked Meeting strangers
Being groomed
Unwelcome persuasions
(child as actor)
Illegal downloading
Financial Scams
Bullying or harrasing others Creating and uploading inappropriate material Providing misleading info/advice

How robust is your school’s safeguarding strategy?

Does your school:

  • Have a designated safeguarding lead?
  • Regularly audit online safeguarding measures?
  • Have a robust Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)?
  • Use an accredited Internet Service Provider?
  • Keep an incident log and monitor measures?
  • Handle cyberbullying issues well?
  • Raise awareness of online safety through assemblies etc.?
  • Include online safeguarding measures in your SEF? 

Do your students:

  • Understand the fundamental British values of inclusion and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs?
  • Understand what safe and responsible online behaviour means?
  • Receive online safety education across the curriculum?
  • Get the opportunity to improve their digital literacy skills?
  • Know the SMART rules?
  • Know how to report any concerns they may have?
  • Know the measures that your school has in place to safeguard them when they are online?

Do all your staff:

  • Understand online safeguarding issues & risks?
  • Receive regular training & updates?
  • Know how to escalate issues of concern?
  • Know how to keep data safe and secure?
  • Know how to protect themselves online?
  • Know how to conduct themselves professionally online?
  • Understand how practicing online safety relates to health & well-being?
  • Know the measures that your school has in place to safeguard learners and staff online?

Do your parents & governors:

  • Understand online safeguarding issues and risks?
  • Understand their roles and responsibilities?
  • Receive regular training and updates?
  • Understand how to protect their children at home?
  • Know the measures that your school has in place to safeguard learners and staff online?