With access to the internet becoming the norm for more and more children, Grantham IT specialist Datcom is offering advice to ensure schools achieve full marks when it comes to safeguarding pupils.
Last month the government updated its Keeping Children Safe in Education document to include a new section about online safety.
The guidelines highlight the extent of potential vulnerabilities that exist in UK schools today and offer advice on how to limit children’s exposure to these risks from the school or college’s IT system.
Business Development Manager at Datcom Hannah Sang explained: “Although relevant to schools up and down the country, last week the message was brought home when a man from Lincolnshire was sentenced for taking advantage of minors via social media.
“We want to help educate schools in the county on the importance of cyber security.”
In March 2015 a survey on online safety practices was carried out during standard Ofsted inspections of 39 primary and 45 secondary schools. The survey collected feedback from senior leaders, teachers, governors and students.
The findings revealed that although a significant majority of schools do not allow personal devices, secondary schools were more likely to allow laptops or tablets.
The feedback also found that five percent of the schools inspected did not have an online safety policy in place and a quarter of secondary students interviewed could not recall if they had received online safety lessons in the previous 12 months.
Hannah said there are a number of steps schools and their IT providers can take to build better protection for pupils across the country.
“We would advise putting in place filters that are age-appropriate for the pupils in the school and can identify users, so you can see who’s been looking at what and when.
“It’s also important to ensure the filters can manage relevant languages and can also block content via mobile and app technologies. These filters can be used to build reports which will provide comprehensive historical records of the websites visited, so that interventions, where necessary, can take place.”
Monitoring may be as simple as supervising pupils while accessing the internet, or using a central console during lessons, but schools should also consider implementing proactive monitoring technology which can identify certain keywords as indicators of risk.
Alongside the implementation of the steps above, Datcom advises that the introduction of policies on mobile technology use in school should be discussed with pupils in assemblies and information and communications technology (ICT) and personal, social and health education (PSHE) lessons should regularly cover topics about online safety.
Staff training should be put in place and kept up to date and a process established to help individuals recognise, respond to and resolve online safety issues quickly and effectively.
For more information about how to safeguard your school please contact the Datcom team on 0845 521 2405 or visit the website: www.datcom.co.uk
Notes to Editors:
• Datcom are a professional IT company accredited with multiple high level qualifications from the largest and most respected vendors and industry standard bodies.
• Established in 2011, Datcom is based in Grantham but also has an office in Lincoln.
• Datcom currently employ 23 people.
• Datcom offer a wide range of IT services, from basic support through to the very best in cyber security.
• For more information, visit: www.datcom.co.uk