We’ve welcomed the return of the physical classroom, but digitisation and computer-based learning has demonstrated some advantages and efficiencies that means that digital and remote learning is here to stay.
This creates an unequal situation between students who have the tools to be productive when not at school and those who don’t. Digital inequality is now a critical contribution towards economic and social division. How would a student be able to participate effectively in remote learning without online access?
During the COVID-19 lockdowns, schools were required to deploy whatever technology was available without considering the wider ramifications of unfettered access to the internet by their students. As we move forward it will be imperative that the risks are fully considered, and decisions are made based on the security of students and the legal liabilities upon school administrations.
In the GOV 2020 guide Keeping Children Safe in Education, the risk that schools must address was broken into three key areas: content, contact and conduct.
Content on the internet is not sorted into age or appropriate areas and without supervision and guidance, a child can either unintentionally or purposely find content that is sexually explicit, extremely violent or inappropriate. We are seeing a high percentage of children in young ages accessing online pornography and this is affecting their views on intimacy and sexual relationships.
Online child abuse continues to grow at an alarming rate; the UK’s child abuse image database holds 17m unique images, and it’s growing by 500,000 every two months. Many popular sites are now encrypting their content end-to-end, meaning the situation could get significantly worse.
More than 200,000 children met up with a stranger after only meeting them online, according to the Office for National Statistics in the year ending March 2020 in England and Wales. Although the research pre-dates the COVID pandemic, researchers warned that the numbers for the year ending March 2021 are expected to be higher because children have spent much of the last year indoors.
Schools have a duty of care to protect students from both being an instigator and a recipient of bullying, with around 20% of children experiencing some sort of online bullying – equating to 764,000 children. Nearly three out of four children (72%) who had experienced an online bullying behaviour encountered at least some of it at school or during school time.
Protective measures are usually rigorously enforced when on campus but with remote learning, a new but increasingly used method of education, often little or no measures have been taken to protect students when working remotely.
The Department for Education’s (DfE) 2019 Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) statutory guidance states that: “Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure there are appropriate procedures in place…to safeguard and promote children’s welfare…This should include acceptable use of technologies and communications including the use of social media.” Annex C KCSIE also states that “Governors and proprietors should consider a whole school/college approach to online safety. This will include a clear policy on the use of mobile technology in the school.” The 2019 DfE guidance document Teaching online safety in schools’ states that schools should create “a culture that incorporates the principles of online safety across all elements of school life. The principles should be reflected in the school’s policies and practice where appropriate, and should be communicated with staff, pupils/students and parents. This will include, for example, in the child protection policy clear processes for reporting incidents or concerns.”
What can my school do?
- Consider advance filtering solutions to ensure the connectivity your school provides can only be used to access material your school has endorsed
- Ensure traceability of what students are actually doing online with the tool your schools provide them. This may mean reports of the duration and time of day that students are studying, or the reporting of attempts to access harmful material
- Ensure that content blocking is done at the network level. That is to eliminate the risk that a technical confident student can reconfigure the software on their device to bypass the protections your school puts in place and share with other students.
How can Kajeet help?
- Kajeet has been providing solutions for safe/controlled remote learning for 12 years
- It’s market leading connectivity and filtering solutions are fail safe as they work in the network rather than on an individual device. There’s no way a student can break the content blocks.
- Solutions work out of the box. The Kajeet Smartspot is a plug and play connectivity tool that schools can simply hand out to unconnected students with all protection already inbuilt.
To learn more visit kajeet.co.uk
Download the full White Paper here to get all the statistics.