Online Safety within “Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills settings” updated September 2016

The Ofsted common inspection framework and inspecting safeguarding document came into effect from 1 September 2015 . This post is an update based of the “Inspecting Safeguarding” document updated in September 2016 following the publication of DfE statutory guidance, Keeping children safe in education 2016 (KCSIE).

A summary of the key online safety points within KCSIE 2016 is available.

The full Inspecting Safeguarding document can be found here

This post is part of a series which highlights online safety within Ofsted’s Common Inspection Framework – available here. Please be aware that these posts should not be read in isolation as it will only highlight elements reflective of online safety.

Online safety is specifically referenced in the following places

  • Section 10 and 11 – Definition of Safeguarding
  • Section 13 – The signs of successful safeguarding arrangements
  • Section 18 – Inspecting how effectively leaders and governors create a safeguarding culture in the setting
  • Section 34 – Arriving at Judgements about safeguarding arrangements
  • Section 40 – Inspecting or reporting on safeguarding concerns

How to read this post:

  • Black italic font indicates a direct quote from the new guidance
  • Black Bold font indicates a specific reference towards online safety
  • Blue font is used to highlight recommendations, good practice and useful links from the Kent County Council Education Safeguarding Adviser (Online Protection)
  • Red font indicates a possible action point for DSLs, Governing bodies, Headteachers, Leaders, Managers and proprietors to consider.

A PDF document of this content is available.

Online Safety within “Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills settings”, September 2016.

  • 10. Safeguarding action may be needed to protect children and learners from:
    • This may include failure to protect children from risk to content online which poses a significant risk of harm and  issues caused by problematic internet use by parents/carers.
    • sexual abuse. Will include online sexual abuse and exploitation.
    • emotional abuse. Will include cyber/online bullying.
    • bullying, including online bullyingand prejudice-based bullying. Explicitly references online/cyber bullying as a safeguarding issue.
    • racist, disability and homophobic or transphobic abuse. This may take place online.
    • gender-based violence/violence against women and girls. This may take place online and could link in with bullying, sexting etc.
    • radicalisation and/or extremist behaviour. This may take place online.
    • child sexual exploitation and trafficking.This may take place online.
    • the impact of new technologies on sexual behaviour, for example sexting and accessing pornography.This specifically highlights online safety as a safeguarding issue.
    • teenage relationship abuse. This may take place online.
  • 11. Safeguarding is not just about protecting children, learners and vulnerable adults from deliberate harm, neglect and failure to act. It relates to broader aspects of care and education, including:
    • online safetyand associated issues.
    • Ofsted state that the term ‘online safety’ reflects a widening range of issues associated with technology and a user’s access to content, contact with others and behavioural issues. This is often referred to as “e-Safety”. This point highlights that online safety should specifically be considered to be a safeguarding issue. This is supported by KCSIE 2016.
  • Action Points:
    • Do your leaders and staff recognise online safety within your safeguarding responsibilities?
      • If so, how can this be evidence?

The signs of successful safeguarding arrangements

  • 13. In settings that have effective safeguarding arrangements, there will be evidence of the following:
    • Children and learners are protected and feel safe. Those who are able to communicate know how to complain and understand the process for doing so. There is a strong, robust and proactive response from adults working with children and learners that reduces the risk of harm or actual harm to them. Adults working with them know and understand the indicators that may suggest that a child, young person or vulnerable adult is suffering or is at risk of suffering abuse, neglect or harm and they take the appropriate and necessary action in accordance with local procedures and statutory guidance.
      • This will include children being and feeling safe in the online environment as well as offline and at school or within the setting.
      • This may also include considerations regarding the technology access children have within the school/setting, for example does the school/setting use an accredited internet service provider (ISP) and use appropriate filtering, monitoring and/or security systems to ensure that the school/setting network is safe and secure.
      • This may include working closely with parents/carers to ensure that the school/settings online safety ethos and approach is shared. Schools and settings should seek to ensure that parents/carers understand online safety issues and risks and their roles and responsibilities and may offer a range of opportunities to support them with this such as specific workshops, information on school websites/newsletters, child led education etc.
    • Leaders and managers have put in place effective child protection and staff behaviour policies that are well understood by everyone in the setting.
      • Schools and settings will need to include online safety either as a separate and specific policy or embedded within safeguarding.
      • Schools and settings will need to ensure online safety is appropriately covered within staff behaviour policies such as the staff code of conduct, Acceptable Use Policies etc.
      • Kent’s online safety policy templates (2016) can be found here.
    • Action Points:
      • Does the setting child protection and staff behaviour policy have explicit and appropriate references towards online safety?
        • If so, how can it be evidenced that they are understood by everyone within the setting?
      • All staff and other adults working within the setting are clear about procedures where they are concerned about the safety of a child or learner. There is a named and designated lead who is enabled to play an effective role in pursuing concerns and protecting children and learners.
        • The designated safeguarding lead (DSL) will act as the overall lead for online safety and coordinate whole school/setting online safety approaches (as indicated within KCSIE 2016) and act as the lead for dealing with online safety issues that arise.
        • If another member of staff is assisting the DSL then they must access appropriate safeguarding training to ensure they have the required level of expertise regarding safeguarding.
        • Is it recommended that the DSL/online safety lead is a member of the leadership or management team due to the requirements and expectations of the role (they need to be able to direct school/setting resources and attend appropriate meetings where there is a concern) and to ensure that online safety is given strategic consideration across all areas of the school/setting.
        • The DSL will hold ultimate responsibility for child protection concerns and therefore must always be made aware of and involved with any disclosures or incidents and capture and record online safety concerns, whole staff training etc.
        • Many schools/setting are choosing to support the role of the online safety lead by setting up online safety groups, teams or committees who can support the online safety lead and share workloads and tasks. These teams involve key stakeholders including relevant members of staff, children and parents. This means that key members of the community are involved in developing the ethos and in establishing a whole school/setting approach to e-Safety.
        • The procedure for children, parents and staff to use when reporting any online safety concerns must be clearly communicated – for example on the school/setting website.
        • Staff training must be specific to the settings procedures and must ensure that all members of staff are clear how to recognise, respond and refer online safety concerns.
      • Action Points:
        • Is the DSL aware of their role and responsibility regarding online safety?
        • Has the DSL accessed appropriate training to support them regarding online safety?
        • If other staff support the DSL regarding online safety, have they undertaken appropriate training to enable them to act as a deputy?
        • Is there a clear procedure to follow regarding online safety concerns?
          • NB this does not have to be different to other safeguarding issues.
          • How are these procedures communicated with the setting community?
      • Children and learners can identify a trusted adult with whom they can communicate about any concerns. They report that adults listen to them and take their concerns seriously. Where children or learners have been or are at risk, the trusted adult has been instrumental in helping them to be safe in accordance with agreed local procedures. Children who are unable to share their concerns, for example babies and very young children, form strong attachments to those who care for them through the effective implementation of the key person system.
        • 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 children’s lives. If schools/settings are to understand and help children effectively then they must acknowledge and understand the true nature of the world in which they live.
      • Written records are made in an appropriate and timely way and are held securely where adults working with children or learners are concerned about their safety or welfare. Those records are shared appropriately and, where necessary, with consent.
      • Any child protection and/or safeguarding concerns are shared immediately with the relevant local authority. Where the concern is about suspected harm or risk of harm to a child, the referral should be made to the local authority for the area where the child lives. Where the concern is an allegation about a member of staff in a setting, or another type of safeguarding issue affecting children and young people in a setting, the matter should be referred to the local authority in which the setting is located.
        • This will include formally reporting and recording online safety concerns.
        • Schools/settings should be aware of relevant contacts within local authorities (for example the Education Safeguarding Adviser (Online Protection)and e-Safety Development Officer based within the Education Safeguarding Team in Kent and should ensure these are communicated appropriately with their communities.
      • Action Points:
        • Does the setting record online safety concerns? NB this does not have to be different to other safeguarding issues.
      • Any risks associated with children and learners offending, misusing drugs or alcohol, self-harming, going missing, being vulnerable to radicalisation or being sexually exploited are known by the adults who care for them and shared with the local authority children’s social care service or other relevant agency. There are plans and help in place that are reducing the risk of harm or actual harm and there is evidence that the impact of these risks is being minimised. These risks are kept under regular review and there is regular and effective liaison with other agencies where appropriate.
        • This may include  online safety concerns. Schools/settings should ensure they are familiar with local safeguarding board procedures with regards to specific safeguarding issues e.g.
        • Leaders can register with the Kent e-Safety Blog and UK Safer Internet Centre newsletter to help enable them to keep up-to-date with emerging trends, new resources and content.
      • Children and learners 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 are given to children about how to treat others with respect.
        • This may include online bullying (cyberbullying) and also online discrimination, including homophobic, racist and sexist comments.
        • Schools/settings should ensure that their anti-bullying policy is robust and covers online bullying. Templates and links can be found here.
      • Action Points:
        • Does the anti-bullying policy include online bullying?
      • Adults understand the risks posed by adults or learners who use technology, including the internet, to bully, groom, radicalise or abuse children or learners. They have well-developed strategies in place to keep children and learners safe and to support them to develop their own understanding of these risks and in learning how to keep themselves and others safe. Leaders oversee the safe use of technology when children and learners are in their care and take action immediately if they are concerned about bullying or children’s well-being. Leaders of early years settings implement the required policies with regard to the safe use of mobile phones and cameras in settings.

Responsibilities and ethos for online safety

  • Online Safety is clearly identified as a leadership and management issue with a need for strategic oversight and awareness.
  • Leaders may wish to start by auditing current practice using tools such as the Kent Schools Online Safety audit tool, the SWGfL’s 360 safe tool (which can lead to an accreditation) or for other settings, Online Compass.
  • This highlights the importance of online safety being viewed as a whole school/setting safeguarding issue and not a technical concern. The means that whole staff training (not just for teaching staff) must be in place. This is also identified within KCSIE 2016.

Online Safety policies and procedures

  • 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 online safety or embedded within other policies) regarding the safe use of technology, inducing social media and devices.
  • Leaders should also work together with IT staff to ensure that all school/setting systems and devices are appropriately monitored and documented in a way which enables the settings to fulfil its safeguarding responsibilities. It must however be very clear that online safety is not solely the role of technical staff and sufficient support (especially regarding supervision and reporting concerns) must be in place to enable technical staff to fulfil this role. Many schools are involving technical staff within online safety groups to ensure this approach and role is clearly defined.
  • There should be clear procedures to follow regarding online concerns. These should apply to staff, children and families and could be included as part of the school/settings 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/setting has a clear policy which includes a relevant, understood and respected Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). The online 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.
  • Kent’s online safety policy templates can be found here.

Early Years

  • Leaders of early years settings have specific expectations to ensure that they understand and implement the required policies with regard to the safe use of mobile phones and cameras in settings. This will apply to staff as well as children and visitors/volunteers.

Online safety training for staff 

  • Online Safety training must be up-to-date, relevant and delivered regularly for all staff. KCSIE highlights the needfor school and college staff to be provided with training regarding online safety. It is good practice for other settings to implement this as well.
  • It is recommended that all settings ensure training enables staff to develop and build their online safety knowledge and understanding throughout the staff training calendar. Some schools/settings have found success by offering several shorter focused sessions throughout the year covering topics such as professional responsibilities and reputation which are underpinned by whole school/setting safeguarding training and staff induction.
  • Leaders and managers need to ensure that staff training is appropriate and specific to the settings needs.
    • External support (such as external agencies providing training either online or in person) can be beneficial but may not always sufficiently explore the settings own policies and procedures or have sufficient understanding of local safeguarding procedures.
    • If external support is used then it must be underpinned and extended by the leaders and managers to ensure that all staff are aware of the settings requirements, expectations and procedures.
  • Staff need to be able to discuss online safety with children in a confident and age appropriate way.
  • There should be an awareness of the role of mobile technologies and leaders must ensure that clear guidance is given to all staff  and students regarding expectations regarding use of personal devices. This should be highlighted within induction and staff training and also covered within the school acceptable use policy and safeguarding policies and wider education approaches.

Online safety within the curriculum 

  • Online safety is not the sole responsibility of the computing/ICT curriculum and must be woven throughout the curriculum .
    • One-off events/assemblies or lessons regarding online safety will not be effective or adequate practice.
  • Online safety education should start within early years and be developed throughout the year by all year/age groups. It is good practice for all staff to reference ways in which safeguarding and online safety can be reinforced within their lesson plans.
  • External support will be helpful to enable schools/settings to re-enforce key messages but must not be used in isolation to provide online safety education to children, young people and learners.
  • Curriculums should be flexible, relevant and engage children’s interests and encourage them to develop resilience to online risks.
  • The Digital Literacy Scheme of Work may be useful to enabling schools/settings to achieve this.
  • Settings should ensure they participate in national events such as Safer Internet Day. 
  • Online safety is not just about educating children about the risk of “grooming” by strangers and highlights that children can also be at risk of harm by their peers. A focus purely on grooming would be inadequate.
  • Action Points:
    • Is online safety understood and identified as a leadership issue?
      • If so, how is this evidenced?
    • Is there an appropriate policy in place regarding online safety which includes issues such as mobile phones and personal devices?
    • Do all members of staff access appropriate and up-to-date online safety training?
      • If so, how and when is this delivered and how is this evidenced?
    • Are children and learners taught about online safety as part of a broad, balanced, embedded and progressive curriculum?
      • If so, how can this be evidenced?
    • Leaders and staff make clear risk assessments and respond consistently to protect children and learners while enabling them to take age-appropriate and reasonable risks as part of their growth and development.
      • This will include clear 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 online safety and resilience.
    • Action Points:
      • Does the setting have robust risk assessments in place regarding the safe and appropriate use of technology?
    • Children and learners feel secure and, where they may present risky behaviours, they experience positive support from all staff. Babies and young children demonstrate their emotional security through the attachments they form with those who look after them and through their physical and emotional well-being. Staff respond with clear boundaries about what is safe and acceptable and they seek to understand the triggers for children’s and learners’ behaviour. They develop effective responses as a team and review those responses to assess their impact, taking into account the views and experiences of the child or learner.
      • 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 and children 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.
      • Positive behaviour is promoted consistently. Staff use effective de-escalation techniques and creative alternative strategies that are specific to the individual needs of children and learners. Reasonable force, including restraint, is only used in strict accordance with the legislative framework to protect the child and learner and those around them. All incidents are reviewed, recorded and monitored and the views of the child or learner are sought and understood. Monitoring of the management of behaviour is effective and the use of any restraint significantly reduces or ceases over time.
        • Schools/settings should positively reinforce good positive online behaviour and celebrate children’s successes. Many schools are developing digital leaders, ambassadors or champions to provide good role models for online behaviour.
        • This could also include working with children to develop school/setting policies and to educate and engage with families and the wider community in the online safety agenda.
        • Online safety incidents should be formally reported and recorded in line with other safeguarding concerns.
        • After any incidents or concerns schools/settings should review practice and identify any lessons learnt.
      • Action Point:
        • Does the setting recognise positive online behaviour?
          • If so, how is this evidenced?
      • There are clear and effective arrangements for staff development and training in respect of the protection and care of children and learners. Staff and other adults receive regular supervision and support if they are working directly and regularly with children and learners whose safety and welfare are at risk.
        • This will include recognising and establishing online safety as part of safeguarding and child protection training for all members of staff.
      • The physical environment for babies, children and learners is safe and secure and protects them from harm or the risk of harm.
        • This will include technology considerations with regards to devices and appropriate filtering which is monitored appropriate by the school/setting.
      • All staff and carers have a copy of and understand the written procedures for managing allegations of harm to a child or learner. They know how to make a complaint and understand policies on whistleblowing and how to manage other concerns about the practice of adults in respect of the safety and protection of children and learners.
        • This may include allegations or concerns regarding online behaviour, therefore clear guidance which supports the school/settings safeguarding culture should be provided to staff.
        • This should address (via induction, training and AUPs) the school/settings expectations regarding appropriate and professional behaviour and communication e.g. appropriate use of school equipment and using school/setting provided devices/communication channels so that contact takes place within clear and explicit professional boundaries which is transparent and open to scrutiny.
        • Kent’s online safety (e-Safety) policy templates can be found here

Evidence to look for when inspecting safeguarding arrangements

  • 15. Inspectors should look for evidence … of the setting’s safeguarding arrangements:
    • the extent to which leaders, governors and managers create a positive culture and ethos where safeguarding is an important part of everyday life in the setting, backed up by training at every level.
      • This will include online safety, therefore is essential that leaders, governors and managers are aware and engaged in online safety.
    • the content, application and effectiveness of safeguarding policies and procedures, and safe recruitment and vetting processes.
      • This may include online safety policies.
      • Kent’s online safety (e-Safety) policy templates can be found here.
    • the quality of safeguarding practice, including evidence that staff are aware of the signs that children or learners may be at risk of harm either within the setting or in the family or wider community outside the setting
      • This will include online safety.
      • This will include the school/setting response to online safety concerns both internally by staff and safeguarding leads and also with regards to external reporting.
    • the quality of work to support multi-agency plans around the child or learner
      • This could include online safety concerns.

Inspecting how effectively leaders and governors create a safeguarding culture in the setting.

Please be aware that some points have not been included in the section as they are not relevant to online safety.

  • 16. Inspectors should consider how well leaders and managers in early years settings, schools and further education and skills providers have created a culture of vigilance where children’s and learners’ welfare is promoted and timely and appropriate safeguarding action is taken for children or learners who need extra help or who may be suffering or likely to suffer harm.
    • This may include vigilance towards online safety risks.
  • 17. Inspectors should evaluate how well early years settings, schools and colleges fulfil their statutory responsibilities and how well staff exercise their professional judgement in keeping children and learners safe.
  • 18. Inspectors should consider evidence that:
    • leaders, governors and supervisory bodies (where appropriate) fulfil statutory requirements, such as those for disability, safeguarding, recruitment and health and safety
      • Many children 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 managers must be aware of the wider legal framework when addressing online safety concerns
      • Examples could include the 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.
    • child protection and staff behaviour policies and procedures are in place and regularly reviewed to keep all children and learners safe.
      • This will need to include online safety.
      • Kent’s online safety (e-Safety) policy templates can be found here.
    • staff, leaders and managers recognise that children and young people are capable of abusing their peers and this risk is covered adequately in the child protection policy.
      • This will need to cover issues such as online bullying  and sexting.
      • Kent’s online safety (e-Safety) policy templates cover these issues and can be found here.
    • Action points:
      • Does the child protection policy cover peer on peer abuse issues such as online bullying and sexting?
    • the child protection policy reflects the additional barriers that exist when recognising the signs of abuse and neglect of children who have special educational needs and/or disabilities
      • This may include online safety.
      • Kent’s online safety (e-Safety) policy templates cover these issues and can be found here.
    • children and learners feel safe
      • This will include feeling safe online.
    • staff, leaders, governors and supervisory bodies (where appropriate) and volunteers receive appropriate training on safeguarding at induction, that is updated regularly. In addition, they receive information (for example, via emails, e-bulletins and newsletters) on safeguarding and child protection at least annually. They demonstrate knowledge of their responsibilities relating to the protection of children, young people and vulnerable adults.
      • This will include online safety awareness and  training being in place for all members of staff.
    • staff are supported to have a good awareness of the signs that a child or learner is being neglected or abused, as described in ‘What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused’
      • This may include online abuse.
    • there is a designated senior member of staff in charge of safeguarding arrangements who has been trained to the appropriate level and understands their responsibilities relating to the protection of children, young people and vulnerable adults and the safeguarding of all learners. Designated members of staff in schools and colleges should undertake safeguarding training every two years and their knowledge and skills should be refreshed at regular intervals, but at least annually. During term time, or when the setting is in operation, the designated safeguarding lead or an appropriately trained deputy should be available during opening hours for staff to discuss safeguarding concerns.
      • The DSL holds overall responsibility for safeguarding which includes online safety. The DSL may wish to be able to demonstrate that they have accessed appropriate and specific training regarding online safety.
      • DSLs can contact the Education Safeguarding Adviser (Online Protection) to discuss local support and training available.
    • the setting identifies children or learners who may be at risk
      • This will include those at risk online.
    • action is taken to ensure that children are taught about safeguarding risks, including online risks
      • This specifically highlights that settings should be able to evidence how children are taught about online safety.
    • there is a clear approach to implementing the Prevent duty and keeping children and learners safe from the dangers of radicalisation and extremism
      • This will include the risks of radicalisation and extremism online
      • The DfE has published advice to clarify the role of schools and childcare providers under the new ‘prevent duty’, and to help protect children from radicalisation. The advice and social media guidance for school leaders has been issued to schools to ensure children and young people are safeguarded and schools can carry out the prevent duty, introduced as part of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, which legally requires a range of organisations including schools, local authorities, prisons, police and health bodies to take steps to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.
      • Also see the following link from SWGfL for more information.
    • the setting takes effective action to prevent and tackle discriminatory and derogatory language – this includes language that is derogatory about disabled people and homophobic and racist language
      • This will include online behaviour.
    • children and learners are able to understand, respond to and calculate risk effectively, for example risks associated with child sexual exploitation, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, substance misuse, gang activity, radicalisation and extremism, and are aware of the support available to them. This also includes risks associated with e-safety, substance misuse, knives and gangs, relationships (including sexual relationships), water, fire, roads and railways.
      • This explicitly highlights the need for settings to teach children to understand, respond to and calculate a range of online safety risks.
    • Action point:
      • How is this evidenced?
    • staff, leaders and managers understand the risks posed by adults or young people who use the internet to bully, groom or abuse children, young people and vulnerable adults; there are well-developed strategies in place to keep learners safe and to support them in learning how to keep themselves safe
      • This specifically highlights the need for staff, leaders and managers to have increased awareness and knowledge of online safety and the need to develop children’s resilience via the curriculum.
    • Action point:
      • How is this evidenced?
    • staff, leaders and managers oversee the safe use of electronic and social media by staff and learners and take action immediately if they are concerned about bullying or risky behaviours
      • This clearly identifies the need for leaders to be aware of devices and social media and benefits as well as risks.
    • Action point:
      • How is this evidenced?
    • appropriate filters and monitoring systems are in place to protect learners from potentially harmful online material
      • This highlights the needs for settings to ensure that appropriate filtering and monitoring is in place.
      • The specific details about how this can be achieved will depend on the setting type, the age/ability of children, and what technology is available. Decisions will also need to be proportionate. 
        • What is appropriate for a large secondary school is likely to be different to a small early years provision.
      • Leaders should evidence that they understand how internet use takes place on site and  what filtering and monitoring is in place
        • This could include there is no internet access  for children (likely to be the case in some early years settings), learners only access devices under direct supervision,  the setting uses an appropriate filtering provider.
      • The UK Safer Internet Centre have written guidance about appropriate filtering and monitoring which may be helpful to inform leaders decision-making.
    • Action Points:
      • How do learners access the internet within the setting?
      • How does the setting filtering internet access?
      • How does the setting monitor learners internet access?
    • appropriate arrangements are made with regards to health and safety to protect staff and learners from harm
      • This may include teaching physical safety regarding use of technology e.g. correct posture etc.

Inspecting the Quality of Safeguarding Practice

  • 28. Inspectors should look for evidence that the early years setting, school or college is implementing its safeguarding policy and processes effectively and keeping them under review. As well as ensuring that children and learners are safeguarded while on the premises, the setting should be proactive about anticipating and managing risks that children and learners face in the wider community. The setting should adhere to any locally agreed arrangements for safeguarding children. All concerns and the action taken in response should be clearly recorded.
    • This will include online safety within policy and processes.
    • Settings should anticipate online safety as a risk which needs to be managed in the wider community.
  • 29. Where a child is currently receiving services or support from children’s social care services and is subject to a multi-agency plan, inspectors should explore the role, actions and participation of the early years setting, school or further education and skills provider in working in partnership with external agencies regarding any concerns.
    • This may include online safety risks.

Inspection arrangements for handling serious incidents and allegations

  • 30. On all inspections, the lead inspector must check whether there have been any safeguarding incidents or allegations since the last inspection that have either been resolved or that are ongoing. This should be done early in the inspection, if possible. The purpose of this is to establish whether there is any information that could impact on the judgement of the effectiveness of safeguarding or any other aspect of the inspection that needs to be included in the report. Of particular relevance are the questions as to:
    (a) whether the early years setting, school or further education and skills provider has responded in a timely and appropriate way to concerns or allegations
    (b) how effectively the early years setting, school or further education and skills provider has worked in partnership with external agencies regarding any concerns

    • This may include online safety concerns.

Arriving at judgements about safeguarding arrangements

  • 33. Inspectors will consider the extent to which leaders, managers and those responsible for governance ensure that arrangements to protect children and learners meet statutory requirements, are compliant with guidance, and promote their welfare – including the prevention of radicalisation and extremism. The evidence for this will contribute to the inspectors’ evaluation of the effectiveness of safeguarding. Evidence gathered in relation to attendance, behaviour – for example bullying – and how well children and learners understand how to keep themselves safe may also contribute, to a greater or lesser degree, to this judgement. In line with statutory guidance, inspectors will gather evidence as to whether staff in all settings are sensitive to signs of possible safeguarding concerns. These include poor or irregular attendance, persistent lateness, or children missing from education.
    • This will include online safety.
  • 34.Inspectors will make a judgement on the personal development, behaviour and welfare of children and learners by evaluating, where applicable, the extent to which the provision is successfully promoting and supporting children’s and learners’ safety. In order to make this judgement, inspectors will consider, among other things, children’s and learners’ understanding of how to keep themselves safe from relevant risks such as exploitation and extremism,including when using the internet and social media. Inspectors should include online safety in their discussions with children and learners (covering topics such as online bullying and safe use of the internet and social media). Inspectors should investigate what the school or further education and skills provider does to educate pupils in online safety and how the provider or school deals with issues when they arise.
    • Inspectors will be speaking to children about online safety, therefore it is important that schools/settings can be confident that their online safety education is appropriate to the needs of the children and that all staff understand and promote the school/settings e-Safety ethos and culture throughout the school/setting.
    • Schools/settings should be able to demonstrate that their online 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 online safety expertise should be shared within the school/setting  (not just in one-off subjects or assemblies) and that schools/settings need to be able to demonstrate internal capacity to enable children to build resilience and respond to risks.
      • Schools/settings should not rely solely on external partners to developer online safety education to children and families. Schools/settings must be able to demonstrate ownership of any online safety concerns and their own practice and therefore work in partnership with external organisations.
    • 35. In relation to early years, inspectors should consider how staff promote young children’s understanding of how to keep themselves safe from relevant risks and how this is monitored across the provision
      • This will include online safety.

Inspecting and reporting on safeguarding concerns

  • 40. Inspectors should ensure that they are aware of any information about safeguarding at the setting that is available to the public, reported in the press or accessible on the internet, including that available on the early years setting, school or further education and skills provider’s website, if available. As part of their pre-inspection planning, the lead inspector should run an internet check to see whether there are any safeguarding issues that the inspection team may need to follow up during the inspection. All information that is considered when planning for the inspection should be recorded as evidence.
    • Schools and 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 children on unofficial sites and forums or social networking sites which references the school/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.
    • Leaders 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 leaders 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.
    • 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. Parents/carers and children should also be made aware of online safety and digital reputation as part of the home school/setting agreement etc. and be encouraged to consider how they can act positively online to safeguard themselves and the community.
    • It is recommended that settings include appropriate technology and social media use in the  acceptable use policies (AUP) which must be regularly reviewed to ensure that they are appropriate and up-to-date. Settings should be able to demonstrate that the AUP is effective and understood and are in place for all members of the  community.


Online Safety should now be embedded throughout all school and settings safeguarding practice and should clearly identified as an issue for leaders and managers to consider and address.

Key issues for leaders to consider based on the “Inspecting Safeguarding” document are:

  • The DSL should be appropriately supported regarding identify and responding to online safety concerns (this may include support from other staff as deputies or accessing appropriate training)
  • All members of staff should be provided with appropriate online safety training (in line with KCSIE guidance) which should include safeguarding learners as well as ensuring staff understand and manage their own reputation online
  • Clear policies and procedures for responding to, reporting and recording to online safety concerns must be in place
  • Peer on peer abuse issues such as online bullying and sexting should be clearly identified as safeguarding issues with appropriate systems in place to reduce risk and respond to issues as required
  • Policies regarding safe and appropriate use of mobile phones and personal devices are in place
  • There is appropriate filtering and monitoring in place which reduces risks of learners accessing unsuitable content online
  • There is a proactive, robust,age/ability appropriate and embedded curriculum which enables learners to identify, understand and respond to online safety risks

Useful links

(includes template policies, staff training resources, curriculum content etc.)

Kent settings can contact the Education Safeguarding Adviser (Online Protection) and e-Safety Development Officer directly for advice, support and guidance regarding online safety and to find out out what training is available locally.

The post has been written by Kent County Councils Education Safeguarding Adviser (Online Protection) Rebecca Avery and was first published on the 26.8.2016.

Please contact us for any additional recommendations of content or if you wish to use/adapt this material.

This entry was posted in 2016, Colleges and sixth forms, e-Safety, Early Years, Education Leaders and Managers, Independent Schools, Keeping Children Safe in Education 2016, Ofsted, Schools and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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