Technology plays an essential role in pupils’ education today, but with the rise of electronic media in classrooms and at home comes an increased exposure to the “Pandora’s Box” that is the Internet. E-Safety, as defined by Ofsted, is, “the school’s ability to protect and educate pupils and staff in their use of technology and to have the appropriate mechanisms to intervene and support any incident where appropriate.” With effective e-safety in schools, you ensure that children don’t venture into this digital maze without guidance, and are able to make the most of new and developing technologies in a safe and secure way that doesn’t put themselves at risk.
Why is E-Safety so important?
Sometimes, the Internet is not the most friendly place for our young people. Online, pupils risk being exposed to illegal and inappropriate material, unsafe or abusive interactions, and harmful personal behaviour. In this regard, statistics relating to e-safety in schools can be telling: “Only 47% of primary and secondary teachers believed their pupils were equipped with the knowledge and skills to report e-safety incidents online” and a whopping “91% of secondary teachers reported that their pupils had experienced cyber bullying”. Teachers and administrators have both a legal and personal duty to look after the safety of their pupils while they are in school, which includes online safety. With proper education on e-safety in school, you help ensure your pupils feel secure and that they are informed on how to avoid unsafe situations online.
How can you ensure e-safety in your school?
You may be tempted to conclude that strong restrictions on the Internet are the most practical e-safety solution for schools. In fact, an Ofsted report from 2010, discovered that pupils who are given more freedom with technology at school become more safe online because they have the chance to take responsibility and learn to determine the risks put in front of them. Schools that restrict access actually put their children more at risk because their students weren’t able to learn how to deal with online situations themselves. E-safety in schools, therefore, is all about the balance between security and education.
One of the most important ways to ensure online safety in schools is to make sure that teachers get regular e-safety training. Teachers need to be able to deal with and discuss online behaviour such as cyberbullying on social networks, and how to set a good example. E-safety in schools includes more than prevention strategies. Teachers should know how to remove and report illegal, inappropriate or offensive content. One member of staff should receive training to become an accredited E-Safety Officer to help manage the school’s e-safety effectiveness.
Teachers also need to be aware of the latest trends in pupils’ use of the Internet. Every school is different and it’s very important for teachers to know which websites and social network platforms are currently popular among children. Understanding how students are engaging with the Internet will ensure better e-safety planning, advice and understanding of potential risks.
Providing the best online security for your school means keeping up with the latest information and technology. The digital world is always evolving and, if you aren’t aware of how new technologies work, you won’t be aware of the risks or how to prevent them from being misused. At school, you can protect children from unsuitable content in a number of ways: through your internet service provider, specialist software and the settings on your computer. These ways include filtering to restrict access to inappropriate websites, time limits, monitoring, and reporting.
At ABtec, we provide a range of services addressing e-safety in schools, from e-Safety Seminars to Content Filtering & Monitoring. Call us today on 01942 209060.