Improve digital safety

How to improve digital safety across your school, college or multi-academy trust

The world of social media and digital technology is ever-changing. This can make it difficult for DSLs and school leaders to keep abreast of the ‘always on’ nature of online risks negatively impacting young people.

Despite this, it’s essential that schools work to upskill their staff and effectively safeguard children online. We’ve compiled a New Year’s guide full of insights and information for DSLs and anyone with a responsibility for digital safety compliance in a UK education environment.

Make sure your filtering is fit for purpose 

Although filtering is a statutory requirement, not all filters are alike. A basic web filter, though compliant, can expose schools to significant risk, from student well-being and academic attainment to network protection and reputational damage. Advanced filtering, on the other hand, has far reaching benefits that impact positively on the whole school community.

In 2020, enabling a safer, digital learning environment with real-time, content-aware and granular control filtering is crucial for school leaders and DSLs wanting to ensure their filtering is fit for purpose.

The challenge for any educational organisation is to protect students from harmful content while providing the freedom to learn without limits. Preventing overblocking and unreasonable restrictions is critical. By adapting filtering to be more responsive to new content, trends and online risks, schools can ensure students are protected from harm, without limiting student’s access to useful content.

Consider digital monitoring

Monitoring is a key component in identifying students at risk of online harm and is part of statutory safeguarding guidance. By identifying issues at an early stage, schools can tackle a concern before it escalates into a more significant problem.

The types of issues digital monitoring can help safeguard against include; bullying, mental health issues, substance abuse, exploitation and abuse, self-harm and radicalisation. It can also help get early support to students experiencing exam stress before it affects their academic potential.

Better protect children with digital record keeping

Ofsted and ISI look for evidence that all safeguarding concerns are recorded in a timely and secure way. KCSIE refers to the importance of this too. Having a clear chronology of a student’s history is an important aspect of record keeping. It enables schools to keep safeguarding records as secure, living digital documents that can be shared with appropriate parties, as needed.

By implementing a robust and trustworthy record management solution, school leaders can better identify trends of concern in complex cases where threads of behaviour, instances, evidence and actions can be seen clearly all in one place. This ultimately helps to ensure child wellbeing across even the most complex of cases.

Embrace a digital approach to classroom management

No matter how focussed and motivated, a classroom of students all simultaneously working on computers can be a challenge for even the most competent of teachers. Making sure that every individual is on task and concentrating can be difficult.

An effective classroom management system enables teachers to maintain a dynamic, focussed, and productive learning environment at all times. They can instantly disable screen access, as a group or individually; they can see if anyone has jumped off task, and can quickly see and address any misbehaviours, without disrupting anyone else.

By implementing an effective, cross-platform classroom management solution in the New Year, teachers will be empowered to take control of digital learning and improve learning outcomes in today’s dynamic, digital classroom.

Invest in education and training

Education and awareness of online dangers is a crucial component in keeping children safe online. A DSL is expected to ensure every member of staff is appropriately trained from the moment they arrive at the school.

Education starts with children themselves, but it extends to the whole school community, including governors, headteachers, teachers, house heads, staff and parents. When everyone understands and follows safe practices, safety online becomes the norm, not the exception.

Investing in training for teachers, school staff, parents and pupils and so equipping them with the knowledge to understand online dangers, helps to keep young people safer.

Partnering with an expert can help alleviate pressure for those DSLs and school leaders wanting a robust digital safety environment for their staff and students. Here at Smoothwall we have a team of experts on hand to help provide insight and advice on the different considerations schools may have around implementing an effective digital safeguarding strategy across the whole school community

If you have any questions about any aspect of online safety in your schoolget in touch with the Smoothwall team today. We’d be delighted to help. 

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