e-Safety within the Ofsted School Inspection Framework, September 2014. Archived

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

Part One: e-Safety within the Ofsted School Inspection Framework, September 2014

Alongside schools, Ofsted Inspectors are expected to be familiar with the DfE’s statutory guidance for schools and colleges, “Keeping Children Safe in Education’, 2014 (KCSIE) and its implications for schools. KCSIE specifically highlights that governing bodies and proprietors should consider how children may be taught about safeguarding, including online, through teaching and learning opportunities, as part of providing a broad and balanced curriculum. A range of e-Safety concerns that schools will need to consider and address are also highlighted within KCSIE under “specific safeguarding concerns” including child sexual exploitation, bullying including cyberbullying, radicalisation and sexting. Schools (specifically leader, managers, governing bodies and proprietors) should therefore ensure that e-Safety messages are embedded throughout the school’s curriculum to ensure that pupils are prepared for life in modern Britain and the wider world.

As part of planning and preparation prior to visiting schools, inspectors will use all available evidence to develop an initial picture of all schools which will include analysing a range of data and resources available to inspectors (see Paragraph 4, School Inspection Framework). This will include visiting school websites to check for statutory information relating to the curriculum as well as looking for other relevant information for parents. Schools can demonstrate that e-Safety is an important and established issue as part of their safeguarding responsibilities by ensuring that their school website (and other online communication channels) has up-to-date and appropriate information and guidance for parents/carers and children regarding online safety at school and at home. This may include sharing schools own policies and procedures, guidance for children and parents, links to videos or content to highlight the schools education approaches (e.g. scheme of work) and links to sites such as Think U Know, CEOP, Childnet, Childline, the Internet Watch Foundation, Internet Matters, Get Safe online, Parenting in the Digital Age and the UK Safer Internet Centre. Schools may also wish to use the school website to alert children and families to reporting procedures for online concerns, both locally (e.g. via the designated safeguarding lead in school, local police or children’s social care teams) and nationally (CEOP, IWF, Childline)

Inspectors will also conduct a brief search prior to inspection using the provider information portal and the internet see if there are any live or historic safeguarding concerns, complaints or related issues (see paragraph 4 and 5 of the Inspection Handbook) and this may include accessing content about the school available within the public domain. Schools and settings should be aware that any public searching of schools may highlight stories from local or national press as well as potentially revealing content posted by parents, staff or pupils on unofficial sites and forums or social networking sites which references the school name. This content may have been shared or posted deliberately or accidentally and could include content which can be misread or misinterpreted. It could also highlight positive practice and celebrations and demonstrate that the school are using technology to engage with the wider community, locally and globally. School leaders may wish to regularly check their schools “digital reputations” via public search engines or other tools such as reputation alert systems so they can respond as necessary (e.g. request removal of content, speak with those involved or share good news). By being aware of the schools digital reputation this means that schools are more likely to be prepared to discuss the effectiveness of their safeguarding approaches and can be open and effective in such discussions with inspectors. Schools may wish to raise awareness of professional conduct with staff as part of induction and ensure that this is reinforced through regular staff training. Parents/carers and pupils should also be made aware of online safety and digital reputation as part of the home school agreement etc and be encouraged to consider how they can act positively online to safeguard themselves and the school community. It is recommended that schools include appropriate technology and social media use in the school acceptable use policies (AUP) which must be regularly reviewed to ensure that they are appropriate and up-to-date. Schools need to be able to demonstrate that the AUP is effective and understood and are in place for all members of the school community.

Inspectors will request that certain information is made available at the start of the inspection, such as any self-evaluation (for e-Safety this could include the Kent e-Safety self evaluation tool and the 360 safe tool) and the school improvement plan (which may highlight e-Safety practice as an area for improvement). Inspectors will request access to logs of concerns, including exclusions, incidents of poor behaviour and racist incidents as well as records and analysis relating to bullying. This is likely to include online incidents so schools should ensure that they have a central incident log (either recording e-Safety separately or within safeguarding or existing records) which captures this information as well as any action taken by the school. Inspectors will also wish to see information relating to referrals made by the designed person for safeguarding and this may also include referrals relating to online safety concerns e.g. sexting, grooming etc. The designated lead should also have an in-depth awareness of the schools approaches to online safety including responding to online safeguarding concerns and working with other agencies.

Inspectors will gather evidence through speaking with pupils and will ask them about their experiences of learning and behaviour in the school, including bullying. In today’s modern world this will include discussions regarding cyberbullying and online safety and how the school prepares children to respond to and manage risk. Schools should ensure that e-Safety education is viewed as a high priority and is embedded within safeguarding and educational practice which is adapted and specific to the pupils’ ages, experiences and abilities.
Within the school inspection handbook, e-Safety practice will be considered by inspectors as part of “overall effectiveness”, “quality of leadership in and management of the school” and “behaviour and safety of pupils at the school”.

Overall Effectiveness

When judging the overall effectiveness of the school, inspectors will be considering the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils. e-Safety would be an important part of this consideration, especially regarding moral and social development:

  • The moral development of pupils is shown by their:
    • ability to recognise the difference between right and wrong, readily apply this understanding in their own lives and, in so doing, respect the civil and criminal law of England
    • understanding of the consequences of their behaviour and actions
    • interest in investigating and offering reasoned views about moral and ethical issues, and being able to understand and appreciate the viewpoints of others on these issues.
  • The social development of pupils is shown by their:
    • use of a range of social skills in different contexts, including working and socialising with pupils from different religious, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds
    • willingness to participate in a variety of communities and social settings, including by volunteering, cooperating well with others and being able to resolve conflicts effectively
    • acceptance and engagement with the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs; the pupils develop and demonstrate skills and attitudes that will allow them to participate fully in and contribute positively to life in modern Britain.

School Inspection Framework, July 2014 p.35

Leadership and Management

When judging the quality of leadership and management of the school, inspectors will consider how well leaders, managers and governors pursue excellence and model professional standards and this is likely to include online conduct and social behaviour.
Inspectors will consider how well leadership and management ensure that pupils receive a broad and balanced curriculum which prepares pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life in modern Britain. The online world is undoubtedly an important part of modern British life so this should be addressed by leaders. The curriculum should also include a rounded assembly’s programme which promotes pupils spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and provides clear guidance on what is right and wrong which will include online actions and consequences as well as understanding the online world in relation to British civil and criminal law.
Safeguarding is identified as part of the role of the leadership and management (including Governors) staff within schools. Some of the arrangements which are relevant to online safety which inspectors will consider to ensure that all pupils are safe are the:

  • “Effectiveness with which a school identifies pupils who may be at risk “
    • This may include those identified as being at risk of harm online e.g. children who are looked after, children with special education needs, children with mental health concerns, children with low self esteem, children who have experienced trauma or bereavement, children who are at risk of significant harm in the offline world etc.
  • “Action taken following any serious incident”
    • This may include serious online incidents such as sexting, online child sexual abuse and exploitation, cyberbullying etc.
  • Approach to keeping pupils safe from the dangers of radicalisation and extremism”
    • This may include online grooming for radicalisation – the internet is not just being used as a grooming tool by sex offenders but also can be used a tool to identify and groom young people and adults into extremist views.
  • Promotion of safe practices and a culture of safety, including e-Safety”
    • This highlights the need for there to be an embedded whole school approach to online safety with strategic leadership oversight with frequent and appropriate training, which is supported by clear and effective policies and procedures.

As part of their role inspectors will ask the headteacher for anonymised information about performance management, appraisal and salary progression from the last three years. Ofsted acknowledge the sensitivity of this information and the importance of data protection practice and have stated that this information must not leave the school site or be sent electronically. This is practice which should be encouraged by schools and leaders and managers may wish to ensure that they and members of staff understand the impact level of personal data and that all data is managed securely and in accordance with the statutory requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998

Behaviour and Safety
When judging the behaviour and safety of pupils at the school Inspectors should consider:

  • “Pupils contribution and response to the culture of the school”
    • Schools should involve students in the development of school policies and procedures relating to online safety and consider a range of approaches to listening to pupils’ voice e.g. peer education or mentoring.
  • “Types, rates and patterns of bullying and the effectiveness of the schools action to prevent and tackle all forms of bullying and harassment; this includes cyberbullying…”
    • Schools must ensure that cyberbullying is acknowledged within the schools anti-bullying policies and procedures and act in accordance with legislation and Government guidance.
  • “The success in keeping pupils safe, whether within school or during external activities, through, for instance, effective risk assessments, e-Safety arrangements and action taken following any serious safeguarding incident”
    • Schools must address e-Safety explicitly with all pupils and staff to ensure that they are preparing them to keep safe online.
  • “The extent to which pupils are able to understand, respond to and calculate risk effectively…and aware of the support available to them”
    • This will include e-Safety and awareness of organisations such as CEOP, IWF, Beat Bullying, Childline etc.
  • The schools response to any extremist or discriminatory behaviour shown by pupils
    • This may include online concerns relating to grooming and radicalisation and the Kent Police “Zak” resource may be helpful to enable schools to explore this.

e-Safety and cyberbullying are also highlighted in the grade descriptors for outstanding as part of “behaviour and safety of pupils” within the Inspection Framework.
The effectiveness of safeguarding arrangements and the extent to which children behave in ways that are safe, understand how to stay safe and show that they are safe is also highlighted as being part of considerations inspectors will make when considering the effectiveness of early years provisions. In today’s modern world, children in early years will have access to technology either within schools and settings or at home so it is essential that online safety practice is discussed as early as possible and via age appropriate tools such as Childnet’s Smartie the Penguin and Digiduck and CEOP’s Hectors World and Lee and Kim’s Adventures in Animal Magic.

The importance of students in sixth form provisions in understanding potential risks (which will include online concerns) to their health and well being and how to manage them is identified within the grade descriptor for outstanding.

Ofsted have also published (12th September) revised guidance for inspections of non-association independent schools The framework and handbook for non-association independent schools highlights the importance of online safety as highlighted for maintained schools as identified above.

e-Safety is an area which should be embedded throughout school practice and is clearly identified as an issue for leaders and mangers to consider and address.
Online safety is an essential part of safeguarding which is 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.


This entry was posted in Cyberbullying, e-Safety, Education Leaders and Managers, Extremism & radicalisation, Kent Police, Ofsted, Policy, Schools, Sexting, Zak and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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