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Edtech: Keeping children safe

How do we keep children safe using the latest edtech and what do teachers need to know?

Posted by Hannah Vickers | June 27, 2017 | E-safety

Steve Smith, Education Director of Capita Managed IT Solutions answers our questions on keeping children safe online

Whose job is it to keep children safe online? Where do the responsibilities begin and end for the educational institution?

It is everyone’s job and everyone’s responsibility. All stakeholders share responsibility for e-safety, not just management or IT staff. Senior leaders, governors, teachers, technical teams and families should all work together to ensure that children are safe.

In the context of an Ofsted inspection, e-safety is described as the school’s ability to protect and educate pupils and staff in their use of technology, and have the appropriate mechanisms to intervene and support any incident. Moreover, it is the schools’ responsibility to educate all its stakeholders about safe practice in their use of technology - in and out of school.

In simple terms, it is about ensuring pupils can’t see things they are not supposed to see, that data can’t be hacked, lost, corrupted or destroyed, and that people who may present a risk or threat can’t gain access to staff or students online! Since September 2016, the new guidance for schools combines the requirements around e-safety with those around the prevention of radicalisation – though it could be argued that these are two sides of the same technology coin.

What risks exist for children online?  Which risks can schools most help mitigate?

The risks come in the form of:

Content - being exposed to illegal, inappropriate or harmful material; including:

  • Online pornography;
  • Ignoring age ratings in games (e.g. exposure to violence, often associated with racist language); and substance abuse
  • Lifestyle websites, for example pro-anorexia, self-harm or suicide sites
  • Hate sites

Contact - being subjected to harmful technology based interaction with other users such as:

Conduct – personal online behaviour that increases the likelihood of or causes harm; including, but not limited to:

  • Privacy issues, including disclosure of personal information
  • Digital footprint and online reputation
  • Health and wellbeing (amount of time spent online (internet or gaming))
  • Sexting (sending and receiving of personally intimate images)
  • Copyright (little care or consideration for intellectual property and ownership; such as music and film).
  • And it is in these areas schools must ensure the risks are significantly reduced. 

Are teachers and educators aware of all the risks? Is there enough training and CPD provided for teachers?

This is a question to which teachers and educators, properly, should respond. It would be fair to observe, however, with the pace of technological change and the complexity of some of the systems must make it massively challenging for schools to stay on top of all the issues and provide the right level of continuous professional development for all their stakeholders.

What are schools obliged to do with regards to safeguarding?  

In terms of e-safety and the ‘prevent duty’, this is broadly answered in the first two questions. In respect of the wider ‘safeguarding’ obligations these are covered in detail in the revised guidance provided to schools by DfE in September 2016: “Keeping children safe in education - Statutory guidance for schools and colleges

How can schools educate children to behave with respect and consideration online? 

The UK Council for Child Internet Safety puts it superbly:

“… while young people’s ‘offline’ and ‘online’ worlds are often merging, the behaviours and safeguards of the ‘real’ world are not always applied in a ‘virtual’ world where friends can be added at the click of button and information shared in an instant.”

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