What is Online Safety?

eSafety, internet safety or online safety are terms you will find most widely on this portal and they can be defined in many ways. According to Wikipedia, online safety is

the knowledge of maximizing the user’s personal safety against security risks to private information and property associated with using the internet, and the self-protection from computer crime in general. Wikipedia definition

In a world where education is increasingly reliant on technology and online tools, it is essential that schools provide an online environment where students and staff can make the most of the internet while staying free from its risks.

How can you do this?

Here at eSafety Label, we aim to help schools to address all aspects of online safety for pupils, parents and staff. Thanks to the eSafety Label accreditation process, you can assess your school against a set of criteria to determine areas of strength and weakness and highlight aspects of online safety that need further developments. The eSafety Label approach considers three distinct areas of online safety – infrastructure, policy and practice.

Infrastructure

The internet brings a huge range of benefits and opportunities, but it also presents risks. Alongside the positive content, there are more challenging and problematic sites from which schools need to protect children and young people. Filtering and monitoring are two methods that schools can implement to do this but, of course, it is a partial solution: education is very important, too.

Some example of assessment criteria in this area:

  • Is the school network safe and secure?
  • Do you use an accredited internet service provider?
  • Do you use a filtering/monitoring product?

Policy

Schools have policies for everything nowadays but these policies are only effective if they actually reflect what is happening within a school or organisation. It is also important to recognise that things change and policies need to be reviewed regularly – this is particularly the case when addressing online safety. All stakeholders (pupils, staff, and parents) should be involved in the creation and updating of such policies if they are to be effective and really help to create and sustain a safe environment for pupils and staff.

Some example of assessment criteria in this area:

  • Does the school have a set of robust policies and practices?
  • Do you have an acceptable use policy (AUP)? Is everyone aware of it?
  • Does your anti-bullying policy include references to cyberbullying?
  • Are there effective sanctions for breaching the policy in place?
  • Have you appointed an e-safety coordinator?

Practice

Even the best filtering in the world is not enough to protect children and young people when they go online. For example, hundreds of hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute, which is why education is needed alongside filtering and monitoring.

When something goes wrong, do pupils know what to do? Are they aware of how to report something – not just to a teacher or parents but also to the owner of the site they are using?

Education is crucial and needs to be age appropriate, progressive and embedded across the curriculum. Online safety cannot be seen as a bolt on. It cannot be taught effectively as a one-off assembly or “online safety day”.

Some example of assessment criteria in this area:

  • Do children receive e-safety education - where, how?
  • Are staff – including support staff – trained?
  • Do you have a single point of contact in the school?
  • Do the leadership team and school governors have adequate awareness of the issue of e-safety?