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08 Sep 2017

Back-to-school: Are you on top of online safety policies, procedures and legislation?

It's September, and doesn't it feel like the school holidays started just yesterday? The first week marks 'back to school week' for the majority of schools across the UK, and for many students, is an exciting time looking forward to the new school year ahead. The start of a new academic year can, however, also be daunting for some students with feelings of anxiety running high.

As education continues to evolve year on year, technical advances also increase with technology now playing a vital role within the teaching curriculum.

Whilst this can be a useful tool to help students grow and learn academically, it can pose a greater risk for dangers such as bullying; one of the biggest challenges schools currently face.

According to the NSPCC, last year there were over 24,000 counselling sessions with young people who talked to Childline about online issues, and more than 16,000 young people absent from school due to bullying.

Schools also continue to face the challenge of radicalisation, with the development of the internet changing the way terrorist organisations influence and radicalise young people.

A national survey of 11-24 year olds conducted by the National Counter Terrorism Policing HQ, found that the majority of young people are obtaining general information via the web through Google search and social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

It’s with these risks in mind and with increased pressures to comply with UK government legislation and guidance such as the Prevent Duty and DfE Keeping Children Safe in Education, that Safeguarding Officers, Education Leaders and Teachers must now evaluate their current online safety policies and practices, to ensure they are fully equipped to deal with any safeguarding issues should they arise within the year ahead.

Alongside this review, schools must consider what is appropriate for filtering and monitoring for online use both inside and outside of school, in order to fulfil their duty of care and protect the welfare of their students.

Due to the rapid advancement of technology, the ‘overblocking of web content’ is no longer something that is sustainable or effective within education.

Schools now need to focus on tools that enable them to block inappropriate content in real time, without relying on URL blocklists alone, and whilst still allowing access to educational and appropriate social content.

How can Smoothwall help?

Developers of safeguarding solutions and content-aware web filtering tools, Smoothwall’s mission is to make the internet a safer place for children and currently protect more than 7,000 UK schools and 2.5 million students every day from accessing harmful content on the internet.

Our unique Safeguarding Suite is designed to facilitate the effective provisioning of safeguarding in school environments and address legal mandates set out by the UK Government including Ofsted, the Prevent Duty and Keeping Children Safe Online.

Providing you with the ability to filter down and monitor all online activity per individual user, our reporting feature enables System Administrators to  generate meaningful analysis on search terms entered and URLs accessed over various timeframes, to establish user activity that has breached any one of the 7 out-of-the-box rulesets: radicalisation, suicide, abuse, substance abuse, bullying, criminal activity and adult content.

Smoothwall’s latest product offering, Visigo, has also been designed to provide the most advanced on-device monitoring which is moderated by vast AI Technology and human specialists.

Visigo helps to support the effective management of Safeguarding, allowing schools to focus on providing support and education to children in their care, with peace of mind that they will be alerted should an incident arise.

Visigo has been built to not only meet the needs of legislation but has also been designed to put you back in control.

With a unique combination of smart profiling, text analysis, language support, image capture, instant alerting and AI technology, Visigo provides confidence that you have appropriate procedures in place to proactively monitor and protect children under your care.

To request a free 30 day trial or speak with one of our Education Specialists on how to ensure you can meet legislative obligations, get in touch today.

Further Reading
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