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Why is it important for Independent Schools to build a strong digital safety culture?

With parents paying large fees for their children to attend independent school, expectations are high that pupils will have access to the most innovative learning resources and that pupils will be protected from coming to harm.

With the online world now dominating much of your students thought time, it is important that you have strong safety systems in place and that students are aware of the risks they might come across online.

Creating a digital safety culture in schools

It’s important that independent schools make sure that they consider all elements of a strong digital safety culture. Some schools see digital safety in isolated elements with the firewall, filtering, monitoring, safeguarding, education and classroom management all seeming like separate elements. The truth is that all these elements need to combine into one digital safety culture. There is no point running a filtering system that interferes with a monitoring system and vice versa. Equally, there is no point teaching about digital safety in theory on a locked down system that doesn’t allow students enough access to build resilience.


What does a strong digital safety culture in schools look like?

Innovative Resources through a smart content filter

A dynamic content filter will work in real-time and be able to categorise the content, context and construction of each page. It will allow schools to have a controlled approach to social media and be able to set filtering at a granular level so that students can see content that is appropriate for their student group. As many students are likely to have their own devices, using a content filter that will allow BYOD across your school network will also be important.

A strong digital safety culture in schools is essential for boarders

As many independent schools include student boarders, there is a stronger need to apply as realistic internet access as students might find at home in their boarding house IT rooms. With this in mind, it is important that independent schools have a robust digital monitoring capability so that students that might show signs of running off with anyone, have mental health issues or are becoming involved in dangerous activity can be identified and helped at the earliest stage.

With many students being away from home and other students attending for long days, it is important to include education as part of your digital safety culture in school. This will help build student resilience in the digital space and reduce the likelihood of them falling into trouble. Trusted education providers such as National Online Safety can supply you with appropriate resources for both students and staffs so that they understand how to keep safe and the risks they should watch out for.

Risks of cyber-attacks and data theft

With criminals being aware that independent schools may contain pupils with famous parents and store sensitive data, it is important to ensure that your schools firewall and filter will protect from cyber-attacks and that providers you use for digital safety have strong data protection.

Fast-paced lessons

Independent schools will normally have higher expectations of their learners and with less contact over the school year will want to ensure fast paced lessons. A strong digital safety culture will include a good classroom management tool so that teachers can quickly set work, share work and have total control over all the screens in the classroom when necessary. They will also be able to see all screens on their screen at once so that they can identify any students falling off task. Classroom management raises pupil engagement and helps them to achieve optimum performance.

Improved safeguarding with a strong digital safety culture in schools

Digital safeguarding records can improve safeguarding in independent schools significantly. With instant, secure access from any location, and available, safeguarding concerns are much less likely to be missed. When you need to present information to connected staff, parents and outside bodies, a good solution will also enable you to make quick and easy reports.

How to implement a strong digital safety culture in your school

To implement a strong digital safety culture in your school, you will need to make sure you consider all 6 strands of a digital safety culture. To maximise protection, all should be in place. To discover more about how you can create a digital safety culture in your school, see our whitepaper, How to build a digital safety culture for the whole school community.

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

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