A guide to the new Ofsted e-safety criteria

Lesley Simm

Lesley is an independent ICT Consultant working for her own company Smithills ICT Consultancy Ltd. She has worked in education for over 20 years as a primary teacher, advisory teacher, and for 13 years as teaching and learning consultant with Wigan LA. Her role is varied and a typical week sees her teaching ICT, delivering INSET, supporting ICT Subject Leaders and delivering ICT projects in schools. In addition, Lesley is a CEOP Ambassador and delivers Thinkuknow training in schools, she is also an ICT Mark Assessor and member of Naace. Lesley has managed the Vital E-Safety Portal since its inception and is accredited to deliver Purple Mash training in schools. You can find her online and also join her ICT group ICT Subject Leaders and Teachers Networking Group on LinkedIn.

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We all know that keeping pupils safe is one of the most important things schools do. In terms of e-safety, Ofsted recently recognised the efforts schools and parents have gone to to improve e-safety practice, and gave credit to their hard work in protecting young people online. Therefore, when the new Ofsted Framework came into being in September 2012, some schools may not have noticed the changes to e-safety. In fact, I have spoken to many colleagues who were not aware there had been any changes at all.

This article is designed to explain some of the main changes to e-safety and point you in the direction of useful resources, should Ofsted come knocking on your door. However, I do acknowledge that many schools will want to ensure that their e-safety practice is up to date, regardless of Ofsted!

The full changes to e-safety in the new Ofsted framework are outlined in a briefing sheet on the Ofsted website. In addition to the usual expectations around policy and practice, some of the main changes are that Good and Outstanding schools are now expected to:

  • have at least one member of staff that has achieved a recognised and accredited e-safety award

  • make report abuse buttons/links available to pupils

  • keep their staff up to date with e-safety training on a regular basis

  • implement and deliver a flexible, progressive age related e-safety curriculum

  • have peer mentoring programmes in place

  • keep up to date with the latest changes in e-safety and ensure policies are rigorous and amended regularly

I would urge schools not to panic when they see the new e-safety criteria because there are some simple ways to address the Ofsted changes and begin implementing them. Some schools will already be addressing the areas as part of their e-safety plans, but for those that aren't, here is some useful practical advice.

  1. E-Safety Training – Every school can access accredited e-safety training from a range of providers. Dates book up quickly but can usually be requested via the provider's website.

  1. Schools can choose to install the Thinkuknow E-Safety Browsers on their network which will enable pupils to have access to report abuse buttons and other e-safety support mechanisms.

  1. There are a number of organisations producing e-safety curricular and two of my favourites are the Common Sense Media Digital Passport and The SWGfL Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum produced with Common Sense Media.

    • Digital Passport – this is aimed at the primary age range and comprises of a free set of online resources covering the basics including communicating online, personal information, safe searching, copyright and bias. Teachers register and create free accounts for their pupils and can monitor progress against activities and questions. It also has supporting materials and plans.

    • The SWGfL Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum is also free and covers KS1 to KS4 pupils and signposts teachers to the full range of free online resources surrounding digital citizenship and e-safety along with lesson plans and supporting guidance.

  1. In terms of peer mentoring and e-safety, the Cybermentors website and MiniMentors website both provide opportunities for schools to get involved in anti-bullying practices and offer training and mentoring programmes for young people. Cybermentors looks in particular at cyberbullying while MiniMentors is specifically aimed at the primary sector.

Finally, cyberbullying is mentioned many times in the Ofsted framework and there can be no doubt that inspectors will ask you, your pupils and parents about it. They will be particularly interested to know how you teach, respond to and record instances of cyberbullying. So, make sure you have a policy on this and that everyone in school knows the procedures involved. Ideally this will sit within your behaviour and anti-bullying policies, but also needs cross referencing to your e-safety policy. Take care that you are thorough about this. For more sound advice about cyberbullying, visit the Cybermentors website (see above), the Digizen website, and check out the resources at KidSMART.

There are so many free e-safety resources online that it can be really difficult to see the wood for the trees, so hopefully the suggestions I've made will be useful and help you implement any new aspects of e-safety that you feel are your development areas. If you do have an inspection coming up soon, I hope it goes well and that you can make use of the suggestions made.

The full inspection framework from September 2012 can be found at: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/handbook-for-inspection-of-schools-september-2012.

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