Helping pupils develop their minds is what teachers do, but how can they go about making sure that young learners are safe, both in school and at home? Christian McMullen, head of the NSPCC’s safeguarding in education service, tells us exactly what teachers need to look out for, and what actions they can take.
Teachers and others working in schools are uniquely well-placed to spot a child at risk of abuse and neglect, and can take action to change the course of that child’s life for the better. Many different factors will impact on how effectively they do this, ranging from their knowledge of the signs that a child is at risk, to their relationships with their pupils, as well as the culture the school promotes around safeguarding.
Since around the year 2000, teaching has often been cited as one of the most stressful professions to be in. In 2010 the NUT recorded an enormous 81.2% of teachers admitting they experienced some kind of stress, anxiety or depression at work.
How can a school safely and simply go about creating a solid e-safety policy? Expert Alan Mackenzie, the man behind Esafety Adviser, explains how to have a policy that is strong, clear and not overly-complicated.
Nobody enjoys writing, reviewing or reading policies, but it is a necessary evil. The e-Safety Policy is important in school for a number of reasons, including:
A child’s safety at the end of a school day is paramount and is sure to be at the top of every school’s agenda; however, what should be a relatively routine process can often be poorly executed. Failure to adequately protect school children during the challenging end-of-day transition period will concern any parent, and could be deemed unnecessary considering the straightforward solutions available should the school be willing to take the necessary steps.
I believe that all schools should consider four key areas when it comes to guaranteeing the safety of their pupils at the school bell.
There can be little doubt that e-safety is an important part of the well-being and safeguarding of children, young people and vulnerable adults. There is also no doubt that there is a significant amount of scaremongering that does little to give schools confidence to move forward and innovate strategically with ICT across the curriculum.
E-safety is a journey; it is a sum of many parts which, combined, will allow schools to gain confidence and really drive forward. Generally speaking, these parts are:
In today’s teaching world, we are all expected to be “digital natives” and to use all the tools available to enhance teaching and learning. We look to use all sorts of devices to help us communicate, to make life simpler, to be more efficient. We don’t use diaries any more but link our calendar of meetings to our phones or to Outlook. We don’t really need to talk to each other because email, Facebook and Twitter obviate the need for oral communication. We are starting to live in worlds that are hermetically sealed, as our work and social activities become increasingly electronic.
There’s nothing startlingly new in the above paragraph; but with all these new technologies come serious implications for safeguarding. Alarmingly, some teachers are blithely unaware of, or choose to ignore, situations that could cause untold damage to their careers.
In April this year, the NUT warned teachers about the dangers of befriending pupils on social networking sites such as Facebook. The implications are so great that some schools have banned teachers from using Facebook altogether.
It's certainly true that Facebook can be a perilous place for teachers. Is it okay to accept a “friend request” from a pupil whom you know personally? What happens if you reject that friend request? Can you prevent pupils from viewing your pictures and wall posts? What should you do if a pupil posts a message on your wall? What happens if a pupil sees a comment you've made on someone else's wall?