Revisiting monitoring-what is it?
KCSIE guidance has included the need for monitoring within its statutory guidance since 2016. Monitoring is essential for identifying if students encounter anything harmful in the digital environment and is a vital tool for discovering emerging risk concerns.
The UK Safer Internet Centre states as a minimum, schools should use monitoring to check for behaviours showing signs of illegal, bullying, child sexual exploitation, discrimination, drugs, extremism, pornography, self-harm, violence and suicide activity.
Why it is needed
A good teacher will notice when a pupil suddenly changes their behaviour. However, this identification can take a period of time and understanding whether it is more than normal adolescent challenges can be hard to read. Even when prompted many students, for various reasons, will feel that they are unable to tell anyone there is a problem.
The digital environment is also an easy place for bullies and abusers to hide. Users find it easier to stay anonymous and many victims may be unsure who is targeting them. For others, they know exactly who the problem is and although that student may only be sitting a few feet away in class, digitally the perpetrator can easily remain hidden from a teacher. A back turned for only a few seconds could result in a bullying or discriminatory incident without a teacher knowing.
How it can help
Digital monitoring can be fundamental in helping students who suffer in silence. It can help safeguarding staff to detect a problem at the point of emergence and with early intervention can tackle a problem before it develops into something more acute.
Advanced solutions in monitoring can detect digital signals that indicate a student might be at risk of online bullying, peer on peer abuse, child exploitation, county lines, threats of violence and substance abuse. They can also analyse for mental health concerns including stress and anxiety, depression, eating disorders and self-harm.
Introducing a managed monitoring solution across your MAT will raise safeguarding standards and protect from dangerous incidents occurring. For instance, if a pupil threatens another with violence, a solution working in real-time will alert an academy so that safeguarding staff may intervene.
Managed monitoring ensures no urgent incidents can be missed. It works by including advanced pre-grade analysis and human safety experts checking incidents in real-time. Even the most effective monitoring systems result in false positives and this can lead to wasted DSL time.
A managed monitoring solution will filter out the false positives for DSLs and send through other alerts depending on urgency, serious concerns can be delivered immediately while others can be saved for a convenient report.
A managed monitoring solution could be used across your whole Trust and save valuable time and money.
When looking for the best solution for your MAT, you should check that it operates in real-time and also will provide full context of an incident. Some solutions will only offer very limited detail in a report. An excellent solution like Smoothwall Monitor will be able to give a full context summary and also offer a portal to log-in to so that further information and evidence can be obtained.
Is managed monitoring the right solution?
The sheer volume of safeguarding captures across MATs make a managed solution the best option. In a few cases, a self-service solution may be better when you have enough staff to operate it and complex customisation is required.
Reviewing your digital safety
Monitoring is just one part of a whole digital safety infrastructure. By adding filtering, safeguard record management and classroom management, you can create an all-encompassing digital safety system. Using one provider for a whole digital safety structure can reduce costs significantly. To discover how to create a robust digital safety infrastructure in your MAT download ‘How to achieve Digital Safety excellence across a Multi-Academy Trust’.