Online Safety within the “Early Years Inspection Handbook” from September 2015

This post follows on from posts which highlights online safety within Ofsted’s The Common Inspection Framework and Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills.

Please be aware that this post will only highlight elements reflective of online safety and should be read within the wider context of the documentation. Italic content indicates a direct quote from the new guidance and standard font in blue highlights best practice and recommendations.

The common inspection framework comes into effect from 1 September 2015 and remains in draft until that point. Minor amendments may be made to the text prior to September. This post was published in June 2015 and last updated in June 2015.

Online Safety within the “Early Years Inspection Handbook”, September 2015

The full document can be found here

Part One. How early years providers will be inspected

  • 29.As part of their preparation, inspectors must check:
    • the provider’s website, if they have one. Early Years Settings and providers should ensure their online. Early Years providers can demonstrate that Online Safety is an important and established issue as part of their safeguarding responsibilities by ensuring that their website (and other online communication channels) has up-to-date and appropriate information and guidance for parents/carers and children regarding online safety at the setting and at home. This may include sharing the settings own policies and procedures, guidance for children and parents, links to videos or content to highlight 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. Settings may also wish to use their website to alert children and families to reporting procedures for online concerns, both locally (e.g. via the early years designated safeguarding lead, local police or children’s social care teams) and nationally (CEOP, IWF, Childline).
    • the internet, to see whether any safeguarding or other issues relating to the provider may need to be followed up during the inspection. Settings should be aware that any public searching  may highlight stories from local or national press as well as potentially revealing content posted by parents, staff or others on unofficial sites and forums or social networking sites which references the settings 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 setting is using technology to engage with the wider community, locally and globally. Managers may wish to regularly check their settings “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 settings digital reputation this means that settings 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. Settings 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 children (where appropriate) should also be made aware of online safety and digital reputation as part of any parental agreement etc and be encouraged to consider how they can act positively online to safeguard themselves and the wider community.
  • 35. Inspectors should tell the provider that the relevant documentation and information they are likely to need access to includes:
    • all logs that record accidents, exclusions, children taken off roll and incidents of poor behaviour. Including online safety incidents
    • all logs of incidents of discrimination including racist incidents. Including online incidents.
    • safeguarding and child protection policies. including online safety policies.
    • risk assessment, fire safety, and other policies relating to health and safety. including risk assessments in relation to technology and devices.
    • a list of any referrals made to the designated person for safeguarding, with brief details of the resolutions. Including online safety concerns.
    • information about training and/or career professional development of staff. Could include online safety training

Part 2. The evaluation schedule – how early years settings will be judged

Overall effectiveness: the quality and standards of the early years provision

  • 145. Inspectors should take account of all the judgements made across the evaluation schedule. In particular, they should consider:
    • children’s personal and emotional development, including whether they feel safe and are secure and happy
    • whether the requirements for children’s safeguarding and welfare have been fully met and there is a shared understanding of and responsibility for protecting children
      • This will include children being and feeling safe in the online environment as well as offline and at the setting. This may also include considerations regarding the technology access children have within the setting, for example does the setting use an accredited internet service provider (ISP) and use appropriate filtering, monitoring and/or security systems to ensure that the network/system is safe and secure. This may include working closely with parents/carers to ensure that the  e-Safety ethos and approach is shared. 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 the settings websites/newsletters, child led education etc. This will require settings to demonstrate staff are suitably aware of the need to role model positive behaviour for children when using devices and the internet. 

Effectiveness of leadership and management

  • 146. Inspectors will make a judgement on the effectiveness of leadership and management by evaluating the extent to which leaders, managers and governors:
    • provide learning programmes and a curriculum that has suitable breadth, depth and relevance so that it meets any relevant statutory requirements, as well as the needs and interests of children. This will include age appropriate education for children regarding online safety.
    • successfully plan and manage the curriculum and learning programmes so that all children get a good start and are well prepared for the next stage in their learning, especially being ready for school. This will include age appropriate education for children regarding online safety. 
    • actively promote equality and diversity, tackle poor behaviour towards others, including bullying and discrimination, and narrow any gaps in outcomes between different groups of children. This will include online/cyber bullying.
    • make sure that arrangements to protect children meet all statutory and other government requirements, promote their welfare and prevent radicalisation and extremism. This will include online risks to children either directly or via parents/family members or local community online.

Personal development, behaviour and welfare

  • 156. Inspectors will make a judgement on the personal development, behaviour and welfare of children by evaluating the extent to which the provision is successfully promoting and supporting children’s:
    • enjoyment of learning and the development of their independence and ability to explore their surroundings and use their imagination. This may include children’s use of online tools and devices.
    • following of any guidelines for behaviour and conduct, including management of their own feelings and behaviour, and how they relate to others. This may include the safe and responsible use of online tools and devices by children within the setting.
    • understanding of how to keep themselves safe from relevant risks, including when using the internet and social media. This explicitly highlights the need for early years settings to be able to demonstrate that children are educated about online safety using age appropriate resources.  Resources could include material from Childnet, Think U Know, Digital Literacy Scheme of Work and e-Safety Story Books
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