How can schools create a safeguard for pupils using the internet?

Schools are required to adhere to many safety regulations and online this is no exception. In fact it is of utmost importance, with the “Keeping Children Safe in Education 2016” guide released in September 2016 detailing the steps and provisions that schools and other educational facilities must put in place to safeguard children under 18.

Keeping Children Safe in Education

The Keeping Children Safe in Education regulation came into action following on from the July 2015 obligation placed on schools to “ensure children are safe from terrorist and extremist material when accessing the internet in school. This includes by establishing appropriate levels of filtering". The extension of the regulations requires the schools’ IT infrastructures to make sure that “appropriate monitoring systems are in place”.

Guidelines and filtering

It can be tricky to know what to filter and block, and get a balance between limiting the risk of exposure to harmful content and allowing enough access to online resources aiding research and education. This can include restricting things like illegal content, examples of religious extremism, drugs, pornography, violence or self-harm, as well as bullying and discrimination. Many schools choose to block video sites which can be prone to displaying a large volume of uncontrolled content.

Restricting harmful content

Content can be restricted by blocking specific keywords, limiting access to certain users and giving varied permissions. Alongside this, monitoring use is also important, and can highlight areas of weakness or flag up content that may need to be blocked. More and more students now bring their own mobile devices to schools, and part of safeguarding is restricting access to internal Wi-Fi systems, and keeping passwords for staff use only. This prevents children from accessing inappropriate or harmful sites through the school’s internet connection.

Improving your current safeguarding

Every school has a responsibility to check that the internet connection provided through their system has filtering and monitoring in place to sufficiently protect their pupils. For some schools this might mean reassessing the setup that they have in place and make upgrades and changes where necessary.

Staff training and mobile policies

Security and safeguarding policies have a huge impact on the safety of internet use in schools, and this includes guidelines around the use of mobiles. This can encompass things like how the use of personal devices and data can be monitored and managed, as well as connecting to the school’s Wi-Fi connection. Staff should be trained according to the latest policies to ensure that they are enforcing these and following the guidelines.

If you’re looking to evaluate your current systems, update them or would benefit from an unbiased audit, get in touch with Building Zones today on 020 3475 4657.

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Building Zones focuses on simplifying information technology solutions for the connected workplace, enabling colleagues to share information securely within and between locations.