How to get the most out of the DFE’s Teaching Online Safety In Schools Guidance: Instalment 1; 5 Key Recommendations

In June 2019 the DfE released the non-statutory guidance for schools, ‘Teaching Online Safety in Schools’. We’ve partnered with e-safety adviser Alan Mackenzie to bring schools and MATs 5 helpful bitesize instalments along with expert insight to make it easier to digest. In this first instalment we’ve put the key recommendations into an order which will allow you to plan an effective leadership and curriculum strategy:

1. Embed online safety and harms within a whole school approach.

A whole school approach to online safety is crucial to success. Whilst the curriculum is important (and largely where the guidance focuses) it’s important that other factors are taken into account, e.g. robust web filtering, and other technology used in school, leadership and governance, parental/community engagement and more. See the Useful References section at the end of this article for a guide to help you with this.

2. Ensure staff understand the risks that exist online so they can tailor teaching and support to specific needs.

Due to the fast moving pace of technology and the behaviours that evolve through the use of technology, staff training must be updated at least annually and key personnel should have a deeper level of understanding. Key personnel may include the safeguarding lead, safeguarding governor/trustee, online safety lead.

3. Support vulnerable pupils.

The curriculum will largely concentrate on all pupils but schools must be able to recognize where children and young people may be more vulnerable to risks and harms online. Vulnerability may be present in many ways due to factors such as age, special educational needs and much more which makes this one of the most important and equally difficult areas. Refer to the Useful References section below for a report released earlier in 2019, Vulnerable Children in a Digital World.

4. Teach pupils about the underpinning knowledge and behaviours.

Technology moves at a very fast pace and keeping up with this rate of change can be difficult. Equally, for the most part the technology is simply the mode of transport. It is vital that schools cover both behaviours as well as the technology. Both are equally important for staff training. The Teaching Online Safety in Schools document goes into greater detail and we will explore this further in the coming instalments.

5. Education for a Connected World.

Planning Online Safety into PSHE, Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education, Health Education, Citizenship and Computing may at first seem like a daunting task. The Education for a Connected World framework was released in February 2018 to help you with this and the Teaching Online Safety in Schools guidance gives useful references and curriculum subjects.

Key Questions to Ask:

1. What is your whole school approach, e.g. do you have a group that meets regularly and has wide membership (i.e. staff (teaching, SLT, IT), governor, parents, students) to plan effectively, discuss issues, consider curriculum topics and engage with the wider community?

2. Do the staff in your educational setting have a good, in-depth understanding of all the related risks and issues? When was their last online safety training session? Was it up to date and were staff consulted regarding weaker areas?

3. Are you aware of the pupils that may be considered more vulnerable in your school and have you taken this into account in your curriculum planning?

Useful References:

1. Teaching Online Safety in Schools:
2. Vulnerable Children in a Digital World:
3. Developing an Online Safety Group in your school:
4. Education for a Connected World:

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