Schools not protecting pupils

Teachers believe online risks such as cyber bullying are on the rise, yet they don’™t feel confident with tackling e-safety in the classroom

Almost three quarters (73%) of teachers questioned in a new study are concerned that online risks such as sexting, grooming and cyber bullying are on the rise, according to e-safety provider Point2Protect. 

The online survey questioned more than 700 teachers on the issue of online safety at school in a bid to understand whether schools are taking enough action to protect pupils.

Overwhelmingly, 70% of secondary school teachers surveyed said they had encountered cyber bullying or trolling among pupils they’ve taught. Two fifths (42%) of secondary school teachers surveyed had encountered students sexting. 

As well as highlighting growing concerns among teachers, the study uncovered a lack of confidence and expertise in the area of e-safety. Out of the teachers polled, 30% do not feel confident in teaching online safety, and 42% have never taught e-safety. 

What’s more, teachers are in the dark when it comes to what pupils are doing on their smartphones in school, as 43% said they don’t understand the digital content and apps that pupils are accessing on their personal devices whilst in school.

Child Internet Safety Expert, Professor Andy Phippen, said: “This research suggests that schools may not be doing enough to protect pupils from the dangers of the digital world. Further training, technology and resources are needed to support teachers as more and more students carry powerful tablets and smartphones into school. Equally, it is important that we teach pupils about the safe use of the internet, rather than simply banning technology in schools, which, while perhaps seeming like an easy option, is actually preventing the fantastic opportunities mobile tech provides for both formal and informal learning.”

The research comes asPoint2Protect launches a new e-safety service for schools with support from the UK Safer Internet Centre, to help schools manage these online threats. The service is more advanced than typical “stop and block” e-safety tools. For the first time schools can understand how pupils are using the internet on all the devices they carry.

Ian Skeels, Director of Point2Protect, explained: “For too long there’s been confusion between government, schools, and parents over whose responsibility it is to protect young people from harmful online content, both within the classroom and beyond. Our service provides the transparent oversight schools need to identify potential issues and start a positive, open dialogue between teachers and pupils about appropriate online behaviour.”