Just before the summer break, Ofsted published a new, and rather reduced set of inspection guidelines, which took away a great deal of published guidance about good and outstanding practice across a number of safeguarding areas. It also sparked rumours that e-safety was now largely off the Ofsted inspection radar.
In order to shed some light on the current situation, we turned the E-safety Officer for Kent County Council and regarded contributor to the UK Safer Internet community, Rebecca Avery. She suggests that if anything, there is a renewed focus on the importance of integrating online safety into a school’s wider safeguarding agenda.
Here is just a snapshot of the comments made on the matter in a recent article by Rebecca. Click on the links below to read the article in full.
E-safety within the Ofsted School Inspection Framework
A range of e-safety concerns that schools will need to consider and address are highlighted within Keeping Children Safe in Education under “specific safeguarding concerns” including child sexual exploitation, bullying including cyber bullying, radicalisation and sexting. Schools (specifically leader, managers, governing bodies and proprietors) should therefore ensure that e-safety messages are embedded throughout the school’s curriculum to ensure that pupils are prepared for life in modern Britain and the wider world.
Prior to an inspection Schools can demonstrate that e-safety is an important and established issue as part of their safeguarding responsibilities by ensuring that their school website (and other online communication channels) has up-to-date and appropriate information and guidance for parents/carers and children regarding online safety at school and at home.
During the inspection, inspectors will request that certain information is made available, such as any self-evaluation and the school improvement plan. They may also wish to see incident logs including actions taken as well as identifying a designated person who is responsible for e-safety concerns in the school. The inspectors will also gather evidence from pupils about cyber bullying and online safety education and behaviour in school.
E-safety within “Inspecting Safeguarding”
The September 2014 safeguarding briefing identifies that schools should be safe environments for children and young people to learn and that inspectors should consider how well leaders and managers create and promote a safe culture within settings which will include vigilance and timely and appropriate action when children may be at risk of harm. Today’s children live in a world where the online environment has become seamlessly embedded into everyday life and this must therefore be acknowledged by schools.
When inspectors are considering and evaluating the effectiveness of safeguarding within schools and settings, many points will include e-safety practice. They may include:
E-safety should therefore be embedded throughout school safeguarding practice and be clearly identified as an issue for leaders and mangers to consider and address. Online safety is an essential element schools safeguarding responsibilities and should be considered to be a key priority for all members of staff. The e-safety agenda has shifted towards enabling children to manage risk, rather than filtering/blocking and therefore requires a comprehensive and embedded curriculum which is adapted specifically to the needs and requirements of pupils and the technology with which they are exposed too.
We would love to hear your thoughts and experiences of e-safety inspections in you school – please let us know by using the comments section below.