In the first of a series on e-safety, this blogs covers e-safety policy and leadership. In an e-safe school everyone knows who is responsible for what so that nothing is left to chance. Leadership is key to making this happen. This area is so big it will be covered in two parts.
Establishing an e-safety group which represents all stakeholders is a first step to ensuring e-safety gets the prominence it needs. An effective e-safety group will be proactive, represent staff, SLT, students, parents and governors, and have clear lines of responsibility and accountability.
If no-one takes overall responsibility for e-safety there is a real danger things will be overlooked. Ideally there should be a designated e-safety coordinator. This should be a senior member of staff with overall responsibility for the leadership of e-safety.
Role of governors
Don’t forget the role of governors. Make sure there’s a designated e-safety governor who is well-trained and part of the e-safety group. They should ensure governors are aware of their responsibilities with regard to e-safety and allocate resources to provide e-safety education.
Many an e-safety policy is just a template that’s been rubber-stamped by governors with little thought given to its appropriateness. There’s nothing wrong with using a template as a starting point, and this will help to ensure it is aligned with national, regional and LA policies. But an effective policy is one that’s been developed in consultation with a wide range of staff and students, resulting in whole school ownership of the policy.
So many e-safety policies are limited to the use of the computer systems, equipment and software in school. But what about issues related to the use of school equipment out of school, and the use of personal ICT equipment in school? An effective e-safety policy will cover issues such as social networking, cyber-bullying, data protection, passwords, filtering, digital and video images and use of mobile and gaming devices.
Acceptable use agreement
OK, so you have an AUP but do students know about it? Do they understand it? Do they actually agree it a good idea – not just sign it under duress or click ‘Agree’ so they can log on? Make sure you regularly unpack and discuss your AUP with students and make sure it’s appropriate for their age, the technology they use, and the subjects they are studying. Perhaps the whole concept of an AUP needs to be reconsidered. Can you really anticipate every development in technology and formulate a rule for using it? Better to help students become responsible users of technology and they will transfer this understanding to the next big app or game.
Want to know more?
I based this blog on official guidance on obtaining the e-safety mark. Check out www.360safe.org.uk for more detailed information.
The UK Safer Internet Centre at www.saferinternet.org.uk is a great place to find more information and resources.
Do you want help to develop e-safety policy, deliver training, or support in getting the e-safety mark?
Get in touch with me here and I’ll contact you to discuss how I can help.