Online Safety Mark Award
Caterham High School receives award for Online Safety
An Assessor from the South West Grid for Learning recently visited Caterham High School to review the school’s online safety provision. The Assessor met school teaching and non-teaching staff, parents, Governors and students and was very pleased to find that the school provides a high level of protection for users of digital technologies.
The South West Grid for Learning Trust provides the internet connection and a range of other services to schools across the SW region and, as the lead partner in the UK Safer Internet Centre, is in the forefront of national and international developments in online safety. To enhance these services, they have developed a tool to help schools address online safety issues, not least the changes to Ofsted inspections, which include a stronger focus on safeguarding. The online tool allows schools to evaluate their online safety policy and practice and then suggests how the school might do more to protect young people and staff.
To apply for the 360 degree safe Online Safety Mark, schools have to reach a series of benchmark levels when they complete the online self review. The evidence is then verified by a visit from experienced Assessors.
The prime benefit of using the review and applying for the Online Safety Mark is that it does not focus on the individual aspects of online safety such as technological solutions, but instead it integrates online safety into school policy and the curriculum, challenging teachers and leaders in the school to think about their provision and its continual evolution.
Schools are expected to show that they have provided a high standard of online safety education and awareness for all staff , students and also for parents and carers, to ensure that these users of digital technologies can be safe online – whether they are in school, in their homes or out and about using mobile devices.
Following their visit the Assessor reported that the Online Safety Leader, also a Deputy Head, has implemented a raft of complementary measures that have raised the profile of online safety within the school, established common ground for dialogue, and created a safe space with very clear boundaries in which positive attitudes and behaviour are promoted and celebrated and those individuals not adhering to agreed behaviours are monitored, supported and where appropriate are given sanctions. Through establishment of an Online Safety Hub with wide membership, the different groups within the school community are regularly consulted, able to share knowledge and ideas, and are fully supportive of actions undertaken; students and adult members work alongside each other in genuine partnership, and in fact share leadership roles, for the benefit and safety of all. The Online Safety leader moves action forward through an Online Safety Action plan and Online Safety Hub action plan. This year there has been a comprehensive program of weekly emails and tips that are distributed to tutors with dedicated discussion time available, and these online safety tips are also distributed to all staff and parents. This ‘simultaneous broadcast’ on a weekly basis creates a powerful knowledge bank and point of reference, useful not just for students, but also for parents and staff, and it also provides a common talking point. The regular highlighting of potential issues, linked with use of real life examples and scenarios means that all staff are very clear about expectations and procedures and students are more confident in knowing what actions to take, who to approach, and how help can be sought. Online reporting of issues is available to students and links to CEOP Thinkuknow reporting tools as well as to Childline and NSPCC are clearly signposted on the school website.
Areas of strength and good practice:
- Enthusiastic and committed leadership by a team of students, staff and parents/governors with clear established terms of reference and responsibilities, well overseen by a proactive and dynamic deputy head.
- Recent thorough review, updating and cross referencing of all relevant policies with
involvement of stakeholders including students, staff and parents, with annual review cycle in place.
- Co-ordinated, concerted and comprehensive approach that goes beyond simply handing out information, and actively involves stakeholders in a multi-way process and dialogue.
- Effective use of the tools that technology and systems provide to ensure students’ safety and well being and to trigger prompt appropriate intervention and support where needed.
Ron Richards, Lead Assessor for the 360 degree safe Online Safety Mark congratulated the school on its success and commented that it was re-assuring to know that the school had put a lot of thought and effort into improving the online safety of the staff and young people, by addressing these important safeguarding issues.