While some e-safety policies simply follow the legislation and guidance for child protection in the UK, this isn’t enough to really create a digital world where children are as safe as they are in their back garden.
Here are a few ways to write a great e-safety policy for your school
1. Clearly outline what is and isn’t acceptable
Too often, school e-safety policies use language that only tech or safety experts can understand. This makes it difficult for staff, students and parents to understand exactly what is and isn’t acceptable. E.g. if consent is required to share images of students on social media – make sure to specify that this needs to be provided in writing, ahead of the image being shared and who exactly needs to provide the consent in different situations.
2. Ensure the rules can be easily followed regardless of device
With so many variations of laptop, desktop, tablet and phone available in schools today, it’s important that your e-safety policy applies to all of these. Some schools choose to write separate policies for each type of device however in most cases this can lead to confusion and contradiction. Instead, we recommend creating a policy that can be followed regardless of the specific device or model. E.g. All cameras on the device should be disabled or covered up when in the school.
3. Set clear expectations for platforms
Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown, homework and school research tasks are increasingly moving online. This means that students are using the internet on their own personal devices based on recommendations from the school – essentially, you’re liable for any threats they face while on those websites. For this reason you should be clear on exactly what security features need to be present on any websites recommended to students to protect children from a number of online threats. This doesn’t have to be hugely complex – consider creating a checklist for staff to follow including things like ensuring the website starts with https//: rather than http://, making sure there are no chat features enabled on the website and no spaces to provide personal details like age or address. Ultimately, you want teachers to check that this is a safe website for children since the website itself will often have no way of knowing that a child is using the site (unless you’ve joined CAP’s pupil authentication programme) and therefore no way to implement the necessary precautions.
4. Have a standardised risk assessment for new devices and platforms
To make it easier for staff to accurately assess new devices and platforms you should create a risk assessment template that can be used across the school. By standardising this process, you can avoid discrepancies between what individuals consider as ‘safe’.
5. Provide details about required training
To ensure your staff are always up to date with the latest cyber threats and safeguarding measures, it is wise to detail what training is required, which members of staff need to have it as well as information about renewal dates. Not only can this help to improve policies and practices, it can also ensure teachers are aware of the signs that there may be a problem with a child.
6. Be clear on procedures in the event of an incident
If an incident does occur, it’s vital that a proper procedure is in place (and that it’s easy to find out what the procedure is) to ensure that it is dealt with in a timely and professional manner. Falling prey to predators, scammers and cyberbullies online can have a huge impact on a child’s mental health and, if handled incorrectly, can lead to severe problems in their later life. Your e-safety policy should cover how to report incidents as well as the specific actions that need to be taken in various given circumstances. To make this as easy as possible to follow, consider using a flowchart to represent every step that needs to be taken.
Alongside a strong e-safety policy, schools should also be working to educate students about the dangers online and how to avoid them.
Want to find out more about how CAP enables social media, chat, multiplayer games and multi-user platforms to create a walled-garden for children within their platforms? Register your interest here.