e-Safety and Ofsted – April 2014 Update

Schools will already be familiar with the importance of e-Safety within “Leadership and Management” and “Behaviour and Safety”. The full document can be accessed here

On the 4th April 2014, Ofsted released an updated version of the ‘Inspecting e-safety in schools’ briefing document. Overall, the inspection guidance regarding e-Safety remains unchanged but there has been an amendment to the key features of good and outstanding practice for management of personal data.

This now reads:

  • “The impact level of personal data is understood and data is managed securely and in accordance with the statutory requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998.”
  • “Any professional communications that utilise technology between the school and pupils/students, their families or external agencies should:
  •   take place within clear and explicit professional boundaries
  •   be transparent and open to scrutiny
  • not share any personal information with a child or young person.”

Schools will need to review their e-Safety, data security, safeguarding and child protection policies to ensure that everything is covered and up-to-date. Schools may wish to check that all members of staff have received appropriate and up-to-date training which covers protecting professional online reputation and the schools expectations regarding safe and appropriate use of technology and communication with the wider school community. Schools will need to ensure that use of social networking and other forms of contact (such as email) with children, parents/carers and other professional colleagues is highlighted within the schools Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) and there are clear boundaries regarding this.

Schools need to be aware that use of personal contact information (such as personal emails, phone numbers and social networking accounts) is not recommended as it can lead to data protection breaches (schools can be fined for data breaches if they have failed to take all reasonable precautions to safeguard data and abide by the requirements of the Data Protection Act), security risks (e.g. web mail accounts can be more vulnerable to hacking and viruses) and importantly it can leave staff being vulnerable for allegations being made against them. The importance of maintaining professional boundaries and not using person equipment/resources for official school use is highlighted in the serious case review following the conviction of a primary school teacher, Nigel Leats and also the impending serious case review of Jeremy Forrest.

Guidance regarding AUPs and official school use of social media (including risk assessment tools and templates) is highlighted and explored within several documents on the e-Safety site on KELSI . Kent schools and settings are able to contact the e-Safety Officer to discuss any concerns or queries.

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