This post follows on from a post which highlights online safety within the Ofsted Common Inspection Framework available here and Inspecting Safeguarding here. Please be aware that these posts should not be read in isolation.
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.
Online Safety within the “Non-association independent school inspection handbook”, September 2015
The full document can be found here
Part 1. How schools will be inspected
Inspectors’ planning and preparation
- 23. The lead inspector, and in the case of integrated inspections the lead social care regulatory inspector, will prepare for the inspection by gaining an overview of the school’s recent performance and any changes since the previous inspection. They will check compliance with aspects of the independent school standards where that is possible before an inspection (such as in relation to provision of information).They carry out this activity before they arrive at the school on the first day of the inspection. The lead inspector will use all available evidence to develop an initial picture of the school’s performance. Their planning will be informed by analysis of:
- information on the school’s website, including:
- the presence of the safeguarding policy, as required by the independent school standards
- the suitability of the safeguarding policy, taking into account current government requirements
- curriculum information (so the lead inspector can start to assess the breadth and balance of the school’s curriculum and whether it is likely to promote preparation for, and an appreciation of, life in modern Britain)
- Schools can demonstrate that online safety is an important and established issue as part of their safeguarding responsibilities by identifying online safety within their safeguarding guidance and arrangements.
- Schools should ensure 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, sharing guidance for children and parents, highlighting the schools online safety curriculum with links to videos or content (e.g. schemes 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 their 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).
- information on the school’s website, including:
- 24.There may be other relevant information that is in the public domain and reported in the press. Inspectors should therefore conduct a brief internet search as part of their pre-inspection planning to see whether there are any safeguarding or other issues – for example a change of governance – that may need to be followed up during inspection.
- Inspectors will conduct an internet 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 and this may include accessing content about the school available within the public domain. Schools 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.
- An online search 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.
- To support this School leaders may wish to:
- raise awareness of professional conduct with staff as part of induction and ensure that this is reinforced through regular staff training.
- ensure that parents/carers and pupils are 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.
- ensure that appropriate technology and social media use is included within the school acceptable use policies (AUP) which should 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 also request that certain information is made available at the start of the inspection (section 38), such as any self-evaluation (for online safety this could include the Kent self evaluation tool and the 360 safe tool) and the school improvement plan (section 39) which may highlight online 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 online 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 safeguarding 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.
- 41. Inspectors will always have regard for how well children and learners are helped and protected so that they are kept safe. Although inspectors will not provide a separate numerical grade for this key aspect of a provider’s work, inspectors will always make a written judgement under leadership and management in the report about whether or not the arrangements for safeguarding children and learners are effective.
- 42. Ofsted has published a document setting out the approach inspectors should take to inspecting safeguarding in all the settings covered by the framework. It should be read alongside the framework and handbooks: ‘Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills settings’, June 2015. A blog post highlighting online safety within this document can be found here
Meetings with pupils, parents, staff and other stakeholders
- 76. Inspectors must take advantage of opportunities to gather evidence from a wide range of pupils, both formally and informally. During informal conversations with pupils, inspectors must ask them about their experiences of learning and behaviour in the school, including the prevention of bullying (including online) and how the school deals with discrimination and prejudiced behaviour, if they happen.
Part 2. The evaluation schedule – how schools will be judged
Overall effectiveness: the quality and standards of education
- 121. Before making the final judgement on the overall effectiveness, inspectors must evaluate:
- the effectiveness and impact of the provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development
- The DfE has published non-statutory advice to help schools understand their obligations under the standards relating to a school’s provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. The advice sets out the aims of each of the standards in part 2 of the independent school standards (spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils). Departmental advice on improving the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils, and supplementary information, Department for Education, November 2014.
- Online Safety will be an important part of this consideration, especially regarding moral and social development.
Grade descriptors for overall effectiveness where online safety can be demonstrated and highlighted are as follows:
- The school’s thoughtful and wide-ranging promotion of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and their physical well-being enables pupils to thrive.
- Safeguarding is effective
- Deliberate and effective action is taken to promote pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and their physical well-being.
- Safeguarding is effective
- Requires Improvement
- There are weaknesses in the overall promotion of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
- Safeguarding is effective
- There are one or more un-met independent school standards (or, where relevant, statutory requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage) that have a negative impact on pupils’ welfare, health and safety, academic or personal development, including the promotion of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
- The judgement on the overall effectiveness is likely to be inadequate where any one of the key judgements is inadequate and/or safeguarding is ineffective and/or there are serious weaknesses in the overall promotion of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
Effectiveness of leadership and management
- 124. In making this judgement in schools, inspectors will consider:
- the design, implementation and evaluation of the curriculum, ensuring breadth and balance. This will include online safety in accordance with Keeping Children Safe in Education Guidance.
- how the school prepares pupils positively for life in modern Britain and promotes the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs, and for those without faith. This will include online safety as part of preparation for life in modern Britain.
- the effectiveness of safeguarding. This will include online safety.
- the work to raise awareness and keep pupils safe from the dangers of abuse, sexual exploitation, radicalisation and extremism, and what the school does when it suspects that pupils are vulnerable to these issues. This explicitly highlights the role of leaders in ensuring pupils are educated relating to online safety and has clear procedures in place to respond to concerns.
When judging the effectiveness of leadership and management, inspectors must also judge whether the school’s arrangements for safeguarding pupils are effective. There is detailed guidance on evaluating safeguarding arrangements in ‘Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education, skills settings from September 2015’ and the online safety elements are highlighted here
Grade descriptors for the effectiveness of leadership and management where online safety can be demonstrated and highlighted are as follows:
- The broad and balanced curriculum inspires pupils to learn. The range of subjects and courses helps pupils acquire knowledge, understanding and skills in all aspects of their education, including linguistic, mathematical, scientific, technical, human and social, physical and artistic learning.
- Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and, within this, the promotion of fundamental British values, are at the heart of the school’s work.
- Leaders promote equality of opportunity and diversity exceptionally well, for pupils and staff, so that the ethos and culture of the whole school counters any form of direct or indirect discriminatory behaviour. Leaders, staff and pupils do not tolerate prejudiced behaviour.
- Safeguarding is effective. Leaders and managers have created a culture of vigilance where pupils’ welfare is actively promoted. Pupils are listened to and feel safe. Staff are trained to identify when a pupil may be at risk of neglect, abuse or exploitation and they report their concerns. Leaders and staff work effectively with external partners to support pupils who are at risk or who are the subject of a multi-agency plan.
- Leaders’ work to protect pupils from radicalisation and extremism is exemplary. Leaders respond swiftly where pupils are vulnerable to these issues. High quality training develops staff’s vigilance, confidence and competency to challenge pupils’ views and encourage debate.
- The broad and balanced curriculum provides a wide range of opportunities for pupils to learn. The range of subjects and courses helps pupils acquire knowledge, understanding and skills in all aspects of their education, including linguistic, mathematical, scientific, technical, human and social, physical and artistic learning. This supports pupils’ good progress. The curriculum also contributes well to pupils’ behaviour and welfare, including their physical, mental and personal well-being, safety and spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
- Leaders consistently promote fundamental British values and pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
- Leaders promote equality of opportunity and diversity, resulting in a positive school culture. Staff and pupils work together to prevent any form of direct or indirect discriminatory behaviour. Leaders, staff and pupils do not tolerate prejudiced behaviour.
- Safeguarding is effective. Leaders and staff take appropriate action to identify pupils who may be at risk of neglect, abuse or sexual exploitation, reporting concerns and supporting the needs of those pupils.Good:
- Leaders protect pupils from radicalisation and extremism. Staff are trained and are increasingly vigilant, confident and competent to encourage open discussion with pupils.
- Leaders and governors are not protecting pupils from radicalisation and extremist views when pupils are vulnerable to these. Policy and practice are poor, which means pupils are at risk.
- The unbalanced and poorly taught curriculum fails to meet the needs of pupils or particular groups of pupils. Pupils are entered for public examinations inappropriately early. The range of subjects is narrow and does not prepare pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life in modern Britain.
- Leaders are not taking effective steps to secure good behaviour from pupils and a consistent approach to discipline.
- Leaders and governors, through their words, actions or influence, directly and/or indirectly undermine or fail to promote equality of opportunity. They do not prevent discriminatory behaviour and prejudiced actions and views.
- Safeguarding is ineffective. The school’s arrangements for safeguarding pupils do not meet statutory requirements, or they give serious cause for concern. Insufficient action is taken to remedy weaknesses following a serious incident.
Personal development, behaviour and welfare
Grade descriptors for the effectiveness of for personal development, behaviour and welfare where online safety can be demonstrated and highlighted are as follows:
- Pupils work hard with the school to prevent all forms of bullying, including online bullying and prejudice-based bullying.
- Staff and pupils deal effectively with the very rare instances of bullying behaviour and/or use of derogatory or aggressive language
- The school’s open culture actively promotes all aspects of pupils’ welfare. Pupils are safe and feel safe at all times. They understand how to keep themselves and others safe in different situations and settings. They trust leaders to take rapid and appropriate action to resolve any concerns they have.
- Pupils can explain accurately and confidently how to keep themselves healthy. They make informed choices about healthy eating, fitness and their emotional and mental well-being. They have an age-appropriate understanding of healthy relationships and are confident in staying safe from abuse and exploitation.
- Pupils have an excellent understanding of how to stay safe online, the dangers of inappropriate use of mobile technology and social networking sites
- Parents, staff and pupils have no well-founded concerns about personal development, behaviour and welfare.
- Teachers and other adults are quick to tackle the rare use of derogatory or aggressive language and always challenge stereotyping.
- Teachers and other adults promote clear messages about the impact of bullying and prejudiced behaviour on pupils’ well-being. Pupils work well with the school to tackle and prevent the rare occurrences of bullying.
- The school’s open culture promotes all aspects of pupils’ welfare. They are safe and feel safe. They have opportunities to learn how to keep themselves safe. They enjoy learning about how to stay healthy and about emotional and mental health, safe and positive relationships and how to prevent misuse of technology.
- Incidents of bullying or prejudiced and discriminatory behaviour, both direct and indirect, are frequent. Pupils have little confidence in the school’s ability to tackle bullying successfully.
- Pupils or particular groups of pupils are not safe or do not feel safe at school and/or at alternative placements.