Organisations are encouraged to develop e-safety policies to ensure that issues relating to the use of digital technologies and the internet are addressed adequately. It should establish accepted rules and responsibilities for how an organisation will manage the risks associated with e-safety and in encouraging responsible online behaviour. It should also reflect upon how students will be encouraged to learn about e-safety and take responsibility for themselves.
e-safety policies should be made in conjunction with policies for acceptable usage, child protection, anti-bullying and behaviour, IT, HR and student support policies as e-safety encompasses all of these areas. It is also crucial that these policies are regularly checked and updated to reflect the changing nature of technology and how students and staff use it.
Two key approaches to managing the implementation of a policy are available. They include:
- Appointing an e-safety coordinator – this might be someone responsible for IT or child protection
- Set up an e-safety committee that reflects the structure and activities of an organisation
Both approaches require e-safety to be actively promoted and will need support from senior management.
Our e-safety policy template was developed to help show what needs to be considered by organisations. The key parts include:
- Defining e-safety, the purpose of the policy and why it is important to the organisation
- Responsibility for the e-safety policy and how it will be monitored and reviewed
- Responsibilities of the different members of an organisation ie students and staff
- How the organisation will manage security, internet access, behaviour, communications and personal information
- How students and staff will be engaged and taught about e-safety
- Guidance around e-safety incidents, complaints how to respond
- A way for students and staff to feedback
As with health, safety and safeguarding, e-safety risks need to be properly risk assessed. Organisations need evidence that they have carried out a realistic risk assessment based on their learners and their provision.
Our risk management guide may help you to identify, assess and plan for e-safety risks. The National Education Network (NEN) tool is a quick and easy indicator of e-safety practice which addresses different risks for different situations.
Equally important will be the effectiveness of the e-safety reporting procedure. Every member of staff will need to understand their role and be equipped to carry it out effectively. e-safety incidents may well touch on sensitive issues. It is vital that the process of reporting is supportive, and the procedure clear and easy to follow. For the reasons we suggest, it should also be compulsory and therefore a clearly defined responsibility for all parties involved.
The Common Inspection Framework (CIF) proposes to evaluate the extent to which leadership and management “ensure the safeguarding and well-being of all learners”. Relating to this, significant changes to the legislation regarding vetting and barring have been made; for an overview of these changes see HM Government’s report changes to disclosure and barring: what you need to know. (For Northern Ireland see Education and Training Inspectorate, Scotland see Education Scotland, and Wales see Estyn).
Ofsted produced a quick self-assessment tool on e-safety in the context of inspection for schools from Sept 2009. Providers are invited to assess their practice and gather evidence across their provision: training, assessment and standards; teaching and learning; and leadership and management. Suggested sources of evidence could be incident logs, meeting minutes, learner and staff surveys and the implementation plan or self-assessment report (SAR).