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Keeping Children Safe in Education - 2016 Changes [9ine Guide]

The consultation for changes to the statutory guidance ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ has concluded with the government publishing  changes that will come into effect  on September 5th 2016. Over the coming weeks we will be publishing three articles on the impact for schools.

Part 1 - What do the changes to the guidance ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ say should be ready for 5th September 2016?

Part 2 - What does the guidance mean and how should my school assess the impact

Part 3  - What should your school do given the need to be compliant from September 5th 2016

For background information you may find it useful to read our blog on the draft Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance.

Read more….

What does the guidance say?

Firstly, it’s important to understand the requirements of the initial guidance from July 2015 in order to make an informed judgement on  the impact of the updates. Within the July 2015 guidance, technology only featured in three areas:

Schools are expected to assess the risk of children being drawn into terrorism, including support for extremist ideas that are part of terrorist ideology. This means being able to demonstrate both a general understanding of the risks affecting children and young people in the area and a specific understanding of how to identify individual children who may be at risk of radicalisation and what to do to support them. Schools and colleges should have clear procedures in place for protecting children at risk of radicalisation. These procedures may be set out in existing safeguarding policies. It is not necessary for schools and colleges to have distinct policies on implementing the Prevent duty

Schools must ensure that children are safe from terrorist and extremist material when accessing the internet in schools. Schools should ensure that suitable filtering is in place. It is also important that schools teach pupils about online safety more generally.

Specific background factors may contribute to vulnerability which are often combined with specific influences such as family, friends or online, and with specific needs for which an extremist or terrorist group may appear to provide an answer. The internet and the use of social media in particular has become a major factor in the radicalisation of young people.

 

The language used in this guidance is generally ambiguous and open for interpretation. Key words and phrases are:

“assess the risk”

“suitable filtering”

“ensure children are safe”

This differs significantly to the frequency of technology references and the type of language used in the new statutory guidance¹. The language is now far more direct, meaning schools need to take a more proactive approach to implementing the requirements and ensuring the measures they are taking are documented. The key words and phrases being;

“...it is essential children are safeguarded from potentially harmful and inappropriate online material”

“...appropriate filtering”

“...effective approach to online safety”

“...all that they can reasonably can to limit children's exposure”

“A clear policy on the use of mobile technology”

 

This change  therefore requires close attention by school leaders and governing bodies to disseminate the updated guidance and understand the impact on their school(s). Condensing the update, in summary the guidance requires schools to assess the effectiveness of their approach to online safety and their ability to reasonably limit children’s exposure to the following risks:

  • Content: being exposed to illegal, inappropriate or harmful material
  • Contact: being subjected to harmful online interaction with other users
  • Conduct: personal online behaviour that increases the likelihood of, or causes harm

In managing the above, schools need to demonstrate how they effectively do this and document the risks associated with how it is implemented.

The following is a list of requirements taken directly from the new guidance:

Specific background factors may contribute to vulnerability which are often combined with specific influences such as family, friends or online, and with specific needs for which an extremist or terrorist group may appear to provide an answer. The internet and the use of social media in particular has become a major factor in the radicalisation of young people.

Schools are expected to assess the risk of children being drawn into terrorism, including support for extremist ideas that are part of terrorist ideology. This means being able to demonstrate both a general understanding of the risks affecting children and young people in the area and a specific understanding of how to identify individual children who may be at risk of radicalisation and what to do to support them. Schools should have clear procedures in place for protecting children at risk of radicalisation. These procedures may be set out in existing safeguarding policies. It is not necessary for schools to have distinct policies on implementing the Prevent duty

Schools must ensure that children are safe from terrorist and extremist material when accessing the internet in schools.

As schools and colleges increasingly work online it is essential that children are safeguarded from potentially harmful and inappropriate online material. As such governing bodies and proprietors should ensure appropriate filters and appropriate monitoring systems are in place.

Whilst it is essential that governing bodies and proprietors ensure that appropriate filters and monitoring systems are in place; they should be careful that “over blocking” does not lead to unreasonable restrictions as to what children can be taught with regards to online teaching and safeguarding.

The use of technology has become a significant component of many safeguarding issues. Child sexual exploitation; radicalisation; sexual predation- technology often provides the platform that facilitates harm. An effective approach to online safety empowers a school or college to protect and educate the whole school or college community in their use of technology and establishes mechanisms to identify, intervene and escalate any incident where appropriate. The breadth of issues classified within online safety is considerable, but can be categorised into three areas of risk:

  • content: being exposed to illegal, inappropriate or harmful material
  • contact: being subjected to harmful online interaction with other users
  • conduct: personal online behaviour that increases the likelihood of, or causes, harm

Governing bodies and proprietors should be doing all that they reasonably can to limit children’s exposure to the above risks from the school or colleges IT system. As part of this process governing bodies and proprietors should ensure their school has appropriate filters and monitoring systems in place. Whilst considering their responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, and provide them a safe environment in which to learn, governing bodies and proprietors should consider the age range of their pupils, the number of pupils, how often they access the schools IT system and the proportionality of costs versus risks.

The appropriateness of any filters and monitoring systems are a matter for individual schools and colleges and will be informed in part by the risk assessment required by the Prevent Duty.

Whilst filtering and monitoring are an important part of the online safety picture for schools and colleges to consider, it is only one part. Governors and proprietors should consider a whole school approach to online safety. This will include a clear policy on the use of mobile technology in the school. Many children have unlimited and unrestricted access to the internet via 3G and 4G in particular and the school and college should carefully consider how this is managed on their premises.

Staff training: Governors and proprietors should ensure that as part of the requirement for staff to undergo regularly updated safeguarding training (paragraph 64) and the requirement to ensure children are taught about safeguarding, including online (paragraph 68), that online safety training for staff is integrated, aligned and considered as part of the overarching safeguarding approach.

 

The implications of the update need careful consideration. Part 2 of this blog series explores what the guidance means to schools and how they should assess its impact.

For immediate support on how this guidance will impact your school from September 5th 2016, get in touch:

 

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If you haven’t already, take a look at our ICT and Safeguarding Health Checks.

¹https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/526153/Keeping_children_safe_in_education_guidance_from_5_September_2016.pdf 

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