What is e-safety?
The School’s e-Safety Policy reflects the importance it places on the safe use of information systems and electronic communications.
e-Safety encompasses not only Internet technologies but also electronic communications via mobile phones, games consoles and wireless technology. It highlights the need to educate children and young people about the benefits, risks and responsibilities of using information technology.
e-Safety concerns safeguarding children and young people in the digital world.
e-Safety emphasises learning to understand and use new technologies in a positive way.
e-Safety is less about restriction and more about education about the risks as well as the benefits so we can feel confident online.
e-Safety is concerned with supporting children and young people to develop safer online behaviours both in and out of school.
The Internet is an unmanaged, open communications channel. The World Wide Web, email, blogs and social networks all transmit information using the Internet’s communication infrastructure internationally at low cost. Anyone can send messages, discuss ideas and publish material with little restriction. These features of the Internet make it an invaluable resource used by millions of people every day.
Some of the material on the Internet is published for an adult audience and can include violent and adult content. Information on weapons, crime and racism may also be unsuitable for children and young people to access. Pupils need to develop critical skills to evaluate online material and learn that publishing personal information could compromise their security and that of others. Schools have a duty of care to enable pupils to use on-line systems safely.
Schools need to protect themselves from legal challenge and ensure that staff work within the boundaries of professional behaviour. The law is catching up with Internet developments: for example it is an offence to store images showing child abuse and to use email, text or instant messaging (IM) to ‘groom’ children.
Schools can help protect themselves by making it clear to pupils, staff and visitors that the use of school equipment for inappropriate reasons is “unauthorised” and ensure an Acceptable Use Policy is in place. e-Safety training is an essential element of staff induction and part of an ongoing CPD programme. However, schools should be aware that a disclaimer is not sufficient to protect a school from a claim of personal injury and the school needs to ensure that all reasonable actions have been taken and measures put in place to protect users.
The rapid development and accessibility of the Internet and new technologies such as personal publishing and social networking means that e-Safety is an ever growing and changing area of interest and concern. The school’s e-Safety policy must reflect this by keeping abreast of the vast changes taking place around us.
The school’s e-Safety Policy must operate in conjunction with other school policies including Behaviour, Child Protection and Anti-Bullying. e-Safety must be built into the curriculum.