Internet Safety in Schools: Key Considerations

While it’s hard to underestimate the scale of positive effects the internet has had on the education system in the last two decades, there still remains a responsibility for educators, parents and digital service providers to ensure that any child’s venture into the online landscape is made safe. The bottom line is, students must be protected from the emotional stress or potential harm associated with using the internet, either at school or at home.

But how do we do this?

The Digital Childhood Paper

One of the fundamental take-homes from the recent Digital Childhood Paper, written by Baroness Beeban Kidron, is that creating an adult-exclusive internet environment is an unworkable, potentially detrimental strategy, such as the scope of resources and educational possibilities available for students. 

In short, children simply must have access to the wealth of information and knowledge at their fingertips for the benefit of their academic development. Instead, the duty of care lies with adults and educators to make use of the skills, software, and training provided by digital service providers like Computeam, to help students safely navigate the internet and make informed decisions when engaged in the online environment.

Meanwhile, within schools, there needs to be clear and decisive leadership, and any designated safeguarding leads must be accountable for online safety as part of their role. Structurally, in the long term, this will provide clarity on how safeguarding techniques are implemented into school policy, training, and curriculum—as well as create clear lines of communication between teachers and parents on best practice.

Training for Staff

In the government-mandated Keeping Children Safe in Education programme, updated in September 2022, standards have been identified that state that all staff must have online safety training during the induction process and at subsequent regular intervals. In line with focused training, educators are also encouraged to be proactive and consider a number of touchpoints to further enhance their safeguarding strategies. 

This can include subscribing to newsletters from recognised online safety organisations such as the Internet Watch Foundation, to help staff stay on top of current online trends and potential risks.  It’s imperative that staff are vigilant and informed on the potential symptoms that a child may exhibit from online abuse or through accessing harmful material. 

Staff must also be well-versed in safe internet use with regard to hackers and malware risk. As is the ever-changing nature of cyber threats, educators must adapt their approaches to protect the school’s systems. Cyber security training shouldn’t just be limited to teachers, either. Other stakeholders such as governors, parents, and in-house IT technicians should also be fully abreast of the latest potential threats.

How to Safeguard Your School

The next phase of responsibility lies with experienced digital service providers like Computeam. Our first port of call in this fundamental process is the use of intelligent, cloud-based web filtering software. While standard filtering systems may restrict access to inappropriate web content, it fails to provide any form of blanket protection against some of the more nuanced safeguarding concerns.

A number of filters, for instance, are unable to target the inherent risks involved with social media, while problematic content buried within email and cloud documents isn’t always flagged by less sophisticated filtering systems. Meaningful indicators of cyberbullying, self-harm, or suicide risks can often fall through the cracks, and critical online intelligence doesn’t reach the designated safeguarding leads or staff members that need it most.

Safeguarding Digital: St Martins Church of England Primary and Nursery School

"How can a school decide which solution delivers the safest investment, yet is not a barrier to teaching and learning?"

Read the case study >

Cloud-based Filtering Software

As a trusted provider of IT support for schools, Computeam offers a practical, state-of-the-art alternative to basic filtering software. Security is a cloud-based solution that enables schools and trusts to secure their networks and help keep students safe. 

Securly’s advanced AI software monitors student online activity and provides impressively granular results. From the contents of emails and search engine habits, to social media activity and cloud documents, Securly’s AI will identify key red flags that other software has the capacity to miss. This can range from negative sentiments, all the way up to early indicators of bullying, self-harm, or suicide risk. When every second counts, this crucial intelligence is then delivered instantly to either school staff members or DSLs. 

Through Computeam Connect, we are also able to provide the fundamental link  between users and their applications and data—making the process of monitoring students’ internet habits much easier.

To further enhance your school’s safeguarding potential, Securly also uses a combination of sophisticated AI and online specialists, available round the clock, to virtually chart students' mental and emotional wellbeing; directly notifying the relevant channels of any concerns. Meanwhile, Securly Auditor uses state-of-the-art screen and page scanning technology to detect and block inappropriate images and the potentially harmful sites that host them. 

How can we help?

The important challenge of safeguarding the internet for children is one that Computeam takes very seriously. But, in order to achieve the mutual goals of creating a secure and educationally beneficial online environment, it requires a focused, cooperative approach from all stakeholders. Teachers, governors and parents, and ICT providers: all our energy and resources must be centred around the same key objective.

With our many years of experience and expertise in safeguarding networks and devices in schools and trusts, at the vanguard of providing high-quality software, technology and training, we can always find the right solution for your education needs. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch for any help or guidance on this keystone issue.

Posted on November 25th 2022

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