From this September, Ofsted has issued new guidelines in regards to e-safety provision in schools. This basically means that during an inspection, Ofsted will be on the look out for how the school protects and educates staff and pupils in its use of technology, and what measures the school has in place to intervene and support should a particular issue arise. This is from e-safety consultant Alan Mackenzie writing in the Guardian…
As the framework is concerned with safeguarding pupils, it has to be a top priority for schools. Many schools might already have effective policies and systems in place, but those who haven’t will need to revise their priorities to make sure this features. As a parent, I want to know that my children are safe in school, I want to know that they are empowered with the knowledge to be safe when they go online, and I want to know that staff have a good understanding of what safe means in any context to do with technology.
Many people I speak to get very wrapped up in blaming the technology as the facilitator of risk, but this really isn’t the case. Risk and behaviour are the two fundamental principles of e-safety. In other words, if you don’t know what an online risk is, your online behaviour can put you at risk.
Learning about e-safety is a vital life skill. Empowering children at an early age with the knowledge to safeguard themselves and their personal information is something that needs to be nurtured throughout school to see them into adult life. Equally it is important to empower adults, particularly parents, with the right information so that they can identify risky behaviour, or mitigate the possibility of risk.
The new Ofsted handbook and guidance have made the expectations that need to be met very clear. This is a summary of them:
• All teaching and non-teaching staff should be aware and able to recognise e-safety issues with high-quality leadership and management to make e-safety a priority
• High priority given to training and continuation training to all staff, including the contribution of the wider school community. One member of staff to receive accredited training (for example: to become an e-safety officer)
• Clear reporting processes
• Rigorous, plain English policies and procedures integrated with other relevant policies
• Progressive e-safety curriculum
• Provision of a recognised internet service provider (ISP) with age-related filtering
• Good risk assessment
While it does put an increased pressure on schools, particularly those that feel an e-safety assembly once a year is adequate, nobody can deny this new e-safety framework has been a long time coming.