The 6th February is Safer Internet Day but are schools keep children safe?
Create, Connect and Share Respect: A better internet starts with you.
Safer Internet Day is celebrated worldwide to help promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people.
The day offers the opportunity to highlight positive uses of technology and to explore the role we all play in helping to create a better and safer online community.
You can also find more resources, support and tips by going to www.internetmatters.org who are “passionate about keeping children safe online and are here to help you make the right decisions for you and your family.”
Are schools up to the job?
Digital safeguarding in a hyper-connected, unregulated childhood is anything but a simple process.
They highlight the chaotic and clashing relationships between childhood, identity and technology and argue that there is a pressing need to create an education environment in which children can navigate through the complexities and tensions.
They don’t mince their words.
“We believe that one major fault line here is the inherent waekness of many education systems to engage fully with the more complex aspects of data protection and safeguarding.”
They call for a revised national curriculum dealing more effectively with the role of technology in everyday life and argue we should embrace the following:
- privacy, information, and education rights
- management of time and space
- the provision, maintenance, and protection of digital infrastructure
- the role of technology within relationships
- digital criminology
- digital citizenship
- digital consumption
- respect, consent, and empathy with others
- legislative protections
- the role of the media as information source and infleuencer
- well-being and health
But how safe are children online and are schools really equipped to help children?
Things have improved but schools can do more.
SWGfL published its annual ‘State of the Nation’ report into UK schools’ online safety policy and practice compiled by Professor Andy Phippen from Plymouth University.
He assessed data provided by more than 12,000 education settings using the online tool ‘360 degree safe’ which enables schools to review their online safety provision and develop an action plan to bring about improvements.
The report found that overall secondary schools do better than primary schools, but primary schools have engaged with online safety issues more since 360 Degree Safe first began.
But…teachers and governors are poorly equipped. Professor Phippen notes,
Despite there are some significant and worrying gaps.Training for staff is of particular concern as it is a fundamental requirement if online safety education and safeguarding are to be effective in a school. Similarly, given the important role governors play in challenging senior leadership this is an area where we would expect engagement levels to be higher.
The report found:
- 55% of primary schools and 47% of secondary schools have no strategy around how to engage the wider school community around online safety
- 55% of secondary schools and 50% of primary schools have no training in place for governors around online safety – concerning given governors provide challenge to the senior leadership on what they should be doing
- Around 45% of all schools have no strategy in place for staff training around online safety, a fundamental requirement if online safety education and safeguarding are effective in the school.
360 Degree Safe
360 Degree Safe is an award-winning online safety tool that is free to use and is designed to support schools review their Online Safety policy and practice.
Schools progress through 28 aspects of Online Safety step review. For each aspect in the tool, there is clear guidance including advice on how to progress to the next level.
They literally walk schools through each aspect of Online Safety, helping you to collaborate, report, and progress.
It provides schools with the facilities to self-review their policy and practice around online safety and to develop school improvement strategies.
When a school is able to show good practice then it can apply for the nationally recognised Online Safety Mark.
360 Degree Safe is something all schools should be signing up to.