e-Safety within “Inspecting Safeguarding”, September 2014. Be aware this content has been updated to reflect changes for September 2015.

 Be aware this content has been updated to reflect changes for September 2015 and updated content can be found here

Post two – e-Safety within “Inspecting Safeguarding”, September 2014

From September 2014 Ofsted have continued to provide a specific section five briefing for inspectors which looks at schools safeguarding practice and the evaluation schedule as a whole as set out in the school inspection handbook. The briefing should be read alongside the Department for Education’s (DfE’s) statutory guidance for schools and colleges ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’, 2014 (KCSIE) and ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’, 2013 (WTSC) and alongside the Ofsted School Inspection Framework document for September 2014. The document “Inspecting safeguarding in maintained schools and academies” also applies to inspections of independent schools, since the responsibilities placed on all types of schools and colleges to safeguard and promote the welfare of children are the same.

The September 2014 safeguarding briefing identifies that all schools and colleges should be safe environments for children and young people to learn and that inspectors should consider how well leaders and managers create and promote a safe culture within settings which will include vigilance and timely and appropriate action when children may be at risk of harm. Today’s children live in a world where the online environment has become seamlessly embedded into everyday life and this must therefore be acknowledged by schools.

The briefing includes online safety as a clear element of schools wider safeguarding remits and states that “Safeguarding is not just about protecting children from deliberate harm. It also relates to aspects of school life including….internet or e-Safety” (p.5)

The safeguarding briefing identifies that safeguarding can include a wide range of online concerns as “Safeguarding can involve a range of potential issues such as…cyberbullying….radicalisation and extremist behaviour, child sexual exploitation, sexting…” (p.6)

When inspectors are considering and evaluating the effectiveness of safeguarding within schools and settings, many points will include e-Safety practice. They may include:

(please note the following points contain extracts from the “Inspecting safeguarding” document and comments are made in relation to online safeguarding, the document should therefore also be read in full)

Effectiveness of Safeguarding Arrangements

  • Children are safe and feel safe
    • This will include children being and feeling safe in the online environment as well as offline and at school.
    • This may also include considerations regarding the technology access pupils have within schools, for example does the school use an accredited internet service provider (ISP) and use appropriate filtering, monitoring and/or security systems to ensure that the school network is safe and secure.
    • This may include working closely with parents/carers to ensure that the schools e-Safety ethos and approach is shared. Schools and settings should seek to ensure that parents/carers understand e-safety issues and risks and their roles and responsibilities and may offer a range of opportunities to support them with this such as specific e-Safety workshops, information on school websites/newsletters, pupil led education etc.

 

  • “12. Staff and other adults working within the setting are clear about procedures where they are concerned about the safety of a child and there is a named and designated lead whose role is effective in pursing concerns and protecting children.”
    • Kent County Council recommends that schools nominate a designated lead for online safety to coordinate whole school e-Safety approaches and act as the lead for dealing with e-Safety issues that arise. The person who is appointed as the e-Safety lead does not need to have vast technical knowledge as online safety is not a technical role/responsibility; however it would be helpful if they had some basic knowledge and understanding of technology. To assist them they should access appropriate training to ensure they have a higher level of expertise which can then be shared and cascaded with other staff accordingly.
    • Is it recommended that the e-Safety coordinator should be a member of the school Senior Leadership Team due to the requirements and expectations of the role (they need to be able to direct school resources and attend appropriate meetings where there is a concern) and to ensure that e-Safety is given strategic consideration across all areas of the school.
    • It is usually recommended that schools elect the designated child protection coordinator (DCPC) as the e-Safety lead/coordinator as e-Safety concerns may often cross the Child Protection threshold. Some schools will chose to elect another member of staff but the DCPC must always be made aware of and involved with any disclosures or incidents and capture and record e-Safety concerns, whole staff training etc.
    • Many schools are choosing to support the role of the e-Safety coordinator by setting up e-Safety groups, teams or committees who can support the e-Safety lead and share workloads and tasks. These teams involve key stakeholders including relevant members of staff, pupils and parents. This means that key members of the community are involved in developing the ethos and in establishing a whole school approach to e-Safety.

 

  • “13. Children can identify a trusted adult with whom they can talk about any concerns. They report that adults listen to them and take their concerns seriously.”
    • This will include online safety. The fear of losing internet privileges or not being taken seriously (e.g. being told to not using the internet or that staff/parents don’t “understand” or see the point of social networking, gaming or chat sites and apps) can be a common reason why children and young people don’t speak to adults about problems online. If staff ignore or fail to acknowledge the advances in technology then they will be ignoring a major part of pupil’s lives. If schools are to understand children and help children then they must acknowledge and understand the true nature of the world in which they live.

 

  • Children are protected and helped to keep themselves safe from bullying, homophobic behaviour, racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination. Any discriminatory behaviours are challenged and help and support is given to children about how to treat others with respect.”
    • This will include online bullying (cyberbullying) and also online discrimination, including homophobic, racist and sexist comments.

 

  • Adults understand the risks posed by adults or young people who use the internet to bully, groom or abuse children and have well-developed strategies in place to keep children safe and to support them in learning how to keep themselves safe. Leaders oversee the safe use of electronic and social media when the children are on site and take action immediately if they are concerned about bullying or risky behaviours.”
    • This highlights the importance of e-Safety being viewed as a whole school safeguarding issue and not a technical concern. The means that whole staff training (not just for teaching staff) should be in place which must be up-to-date, relevant and delivered regularly.
    • Adults in schools/settings need to be able to discuss online safety with children in a confident and age appropriate way. School curriculums should be flexible, relevant and engage pupils’ interests and encourage them to develop resilience to online risks and not rely on filtering or blocking or one off events or assemblies. This may also include participation in national events such as Safer Internet Day.
    • This highlights that e-Safety is not just about educating pupils about the risk of “grooming” by strangers and highlights that children can also be at risk of harm by their peers.
    • This highlights the important role that leaders and managers have to play in ensuring that there are relevant, clear, up-to-date and effective policies (either specific to e-Safety or embedded within other policies) regarding the safe use of technology, inducing social media and devices.
    • There should be clear procedures to follow regarding online concerns. These should apply to staff, pupils and families and could be included as part of the schools child protection and safeguarding practices.
    • This will include ensuring that all members of the school/setting community understand appropriate online behaviour and conduct. This should mean that the school has a clear policy which includes a relevant, understood and respected Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). The e-Safety policy and AUP should be reviewed regularly (at least annually) and be developed with input from pupils, parents/carers and staff. The AUP should include clear guidance regarding safe and appropriate online conduct, especially electronic communication between staff and pupils and their parents/carers.

 

  • “22. Clear risk assessments and a consistent response by staff protect children, while enabling them to take age-appropriate and reasonable risks as part of their growth and development.”
    • This will include risk assessments regarding the safe and appropriate use of technology such as when using tablets, mobile devices or social media. Risk assessments should be taken seriously and be used to promote e-safety and online resilience.

 

  • “23. Children feel secure and, where they may present risky behaviours, they experience positive support from all staff. Staff respond with clear boundaries about what is safe and acceptable and they seek to understand the triggers for children’s behaviour. They develop effective responses as a team and they review those responses to assess their impact, taking into account the views and experiences of the child.”
    • Risky behaviours will include children taking risks online; therefore all members of staff need to have an understanding of the online world and the range of risks posed as well as the potential benefits to children.
    • Staff should have a clear understanding of what is considered to be acceptable and unacceptable online behaviour and there must be a clear procedure to follow where there is a concern

 

  • “24. Positive behaviour is consistently promoted”
    • This may include promoting positive online behaviour by pupils such as using peer mentoring and education approaches such as digital/cyber “leaders/champions” etc and including pupils input when reviewing and implementing school policies.
    • This could also include working with pupils to educate and engage with families and the wider school community in the online safety agenda.

 

  • “26. There are clear and effective arrangements for staff development and training in respect of the protection and care of children. Staff and other adults receive regular supervision and support if they are working directly and regularly with children where there are concerns about their safety and welfare.”
    • This will include recognising and establishing online safety as part of safeguarding and child protection training for all staff.

 

  • “28. All staff and carers have a copy of and understand the written procedures for managing allegations of harm to a child. They know how to make a complaint and how to manage whistleblowing or other concerns about the practice of adults in respect of the safety and protection of children.”
    •  This may include allegations or concerns regarding online behaviour, therefore clear guidance which supports the schools safeguarding culture should be provided to staff. This should address (via induction, training and AUPs) the schools expectations regarding appropriate and professional behaviour and communication e.g. appropriate use of school equipment and using school provided devices/communication channels so that contact takes place within clear and explicit professional boundaries which is transparent and open to scrutiny.

Leadership and management

  • “ 29. Governing bodies and proprietors must ensure that they comply with their safeguarding duties under legislation. They must ensure that the policies, procedures and training in their schools and colleges are effective and comply with the law at all times.”
    • Many pupils and indeed some staff use the Internet regularly without being aware that some of the activities they take part in are potentially illegal so governing bodies, leaders and mangers must be aware of the wider legal framework when addressing e-Safety concerns e.g. Sexual Offences Act 2003, Criminal Justice Act 1988, Protection of Children Act 1978, Malicious Communications Act 1988, Data Protection Act 1998, Computer Misuse Act 1990, Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988, Obscene Publications Act 1959 and 1964, Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 and Education and Inspections Act 2006. Please note this list is not exhaustive.

 

  • “30. The responsibilities placed on governing bodies and proprietors include: ensuring that an effective child protection policy is in place, together with a staff behaviour policy, prioritising the welfare of children and young people and creating a culture where staff are confident to challenge senior leaders over any safeguarding concerns, making sure that children are taught about how to keep themselves safe.”
    • Governing bodies and proprietors must have strategic oversight of the schools safeguarding ethos and agenda and ensure that e-Safety is embedded within schools safeguarding responsibilities.
    • Children must be taught to manage risk and develop safe and responsible online behaviours.

 

  • “34. Schools and colleges should create a culture of safe recruitment, which include the adoption of recruitment procedures that help deter, reject or identify people who might abuse children.”
    • This may include people who might abuse children online.

Behaviour and Safety

  • “45. School staff need to be particularly sensitive to signs that may indicate possible safeguarding concerns.
    • This may include concerns about children’s online safety

 

  • “47. The School inspection handbook sets out how Ofsted will report on the way that schools make pupils aware of how they can keep themselves safe and what behaviour towards them is not acceptable. Inspectors should include
    e-safety in their discussions with pupils (covering topics such as safe use of the internet and social networking sites, cyber bullying, including by text message) and what measures the school takes to promote safe use and combat unsafe use, both proactively (by preparing pupils to engage in e-systems) and reactively (by helping them to deal with a situation when something goes wrong).”

    • Inspectors will be speaking to pupils about online safety, therefore it is important that schools can be confident that e-Safety education is appropriate to the needs of the pupils and that all staff understand and promote the schools e-Safety ethos and culture throughout the school.
    • Schools should be able to demonstrate that their e-Safety approaches are proactive and seeks to prevent harm by building resilience through an embedded and progressive scheme of work, as well as being reactive (by responding to specific concerns as and when they arise.
    • This means that e-Safety expertise should be shared within the school (not just in one off subjects or assemblies) and that schools need to be able to demonstrate internal capacity to enable pupils to build resilience and respond to risks. Schools need to have local ownership for online safety concerns and work in partnership with external organisations.

The “Inspecting safeguarding” briefing also states that “Inspectors should give careful consideration to the judgements relating to behaviour and safety, and leadership and management, when it is known that a member of staff has been convicted of sexual offences.” And schools should be aware that this will include online sexual offences.

Schools must also bear in mind that they may also be inspected on safeguarding concerns that arise during an inspection or if concerns are brought to the attention of an inspector or Ofsted. This may include online safety concerns raised by staff, pupils or parents/carers, issues identified or raised through public internet searches (for example content found on social media sites/forums posted by pupils, staff or parents/carers)concerns from other agencies, concerns about child protection failing, involvement with serious case reviews and allegations made against staff etc. While Ofsted does not have the power to investigate these incidents, actions taken by the school/setting in response to the incident(s) may be considered, where appropriate, alongside any other evidence available at the time of the inspection to inform inspectors’ judgements.

e-Safety should therefore be embedded throughout school safeguarding practice and is clearly identified as an issue for leaders and mangers to consider and address. Online safety is an essential element schools safeguarding responsibilities and should be considered to be a key priority for all members of staff. The e-Safety agenda has shifted towards enabling children to manage risk, rather than filtering/blocking and therefore requires a comprehensive and embedded curriculum which is adapted specifically to the needs and requirements of pupils and the technology with which they are exposed too.

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