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DfE Teaching Online Safety in Schools Guidance

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DfE Teaching Online Safety in Schools Guidance

This guidance outlines how schools can ensure their pupils understand how to stay safe and behave online as part of forthcoming and existing curriculum requirements. It complements existing and forthcoming subjects including Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education, Health Education, Citizenship and Computing.

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Teaching about Online Safety

Underpinning knowledge and behaviours

The online world develops and changes at great speed. New opportunities, challenges and risks are appearing all the time. This can make it difficult for schools to stay up to date with the latest devices, platforms, apps, trends and related threats.

It is therefore important to focus on the underpinning knowledge and behaviours that can help pupils to navigate the online world safely and confidently regardless of the device, platform or app. This teaching could be built into existing lessons across the curriculum, covered within specific online safety lessons and/or school wide approaches. Teaching must always be age and developmentally appropriate.

paragraph 19 – 20 | p.6

Schools should teach pupils:

How to evaluate what they see online – This will enable pupils to make judgements about what they see online and not automatically assume that what they see is true, valid or acceptable. [p.6]

How to recognise techniques used for persuasion – This will enable pupils to recognise the techniques that are often used to persuade or manipulate others. Understanding that a strong grasp of knowledge across many areas makes people less vulnerable to these techniques and better equipped to recognise and respond appropriately to strongly biased intent or malicious activity. [p.6]

Online behaviour – This will enable pupils to understand what acceptable and unacceptable online behaviour look like. Schools should teach pupils that the same standard of behaviour and honesty apply on and offline, including the importance of respect for others. Schools should also teach pupils to recognise unacceptable behaviour in others [p.7]

How to identify online risks – This will enable pupils to identify possible online risks and make informed decisions about how to act. This should not be about providing a list of what not to do online. The focus should be to help pupils assess a situation, think through the consequences of acting in different ways and decide on the best course of action. [p.7]

How and when to seek support – This will enable pupils to understand safe ways in which to seek support if they are concerned or upset by something they have seen online. [p.7]

Harms and risks

Understanding and applying the knowledge and behaviours above will provide pupils with a solid foundation to navigate the online world in an effective and safe way. However, schools also need an understanding of the risks that exist online so they can tailor their teaching and support to the specific needs of their pupils. [p.8]

The ‘Teaching Online Safety in Schools Guidance’ guidance signposts the ‘Education for a Connected World’ framework in order to guide teachers around the harms and risks that children should be aware of.

The ‘Education for a Connected World Framework’ includes age specific advice about the online knowledge and skills that pupils should have the opportunity to develop at different stages of their lives, including how to navigate online safely. This was developed by the UK Council for Internet Safety.

paragraph 24 | p.8
Consideration for vulnerable pupils

Any pupil can be vulnerable online, and their vulnerability can fluctuate depending on their age, developmental stage and personal circumstance. However there are some pupils, for example looked after children and those with special educational needs, who may be more susceptible to online harm or have less support from family or friends in staying safe online. Schools should consider how they tailor their offer to ensure these pupils receive the information and support they need.

paragraph 32 | p.24
Creating a Culture of Safeguarding

It is important to create a safe environment in which pupils feel comfortable to say what they feel. If a pupil thinks they will get into trouble and/or be judged for talking about something which happened to them online they may be put off reporting it and getting help.

Including the Designated Safeguarding Lead or Deputy

Where schools are already aware of a child who is being abused or harmed online they should carefully plan any lesson to consider this, including not drawing attention to that child in a way that would highlight or publicise the abuse. It is good practice to include the Designated Safeguarding Lead (or a deputy) when considering and planning any safeguarding related lessons or activities (including online) as they will be best placed to reflect and advise on any known safeguarding cases, and how to support any pupils who may be especially impacted by a lesson.

paragraph 38 – 39 | p.25
Taking a Whole School Approach

A more effective approach

Whole-school approaches are likely to make teaching more effective than lessons alone. A whole school approach is one that goes beyond teaching to include all aspects of school life, including culture, ethos, environment and partnerships with families and the community. [paragraph 41 | p.26]

Culture of online safety as part of school policies

Creating a culture that incorporates the principles of online safety across all elements of school life. The principles should be reflected in the school’s policies and practice where appropriate, and should be communicated with staff, pupils and parents. This will include, for example, in the child protection policy clear processes for reporting incidents or concerns. Keeping Children Safe in Education provides advice for schools on embedding online safety into their broader safeguarding and child protection approach. It will also include reflecting online behaviours in the school’s behaviour and bullying policies. Pupils should be just as clear about what is expected of them online as offline. [p.26]

Engaging whole school community

Proactively engaging staff, pupils and parents/carers in school activities that promote the agreed principles of online safety. This could for example involve the co-design of programmes to ensure the school captures information from parents and pupils about their experience of emerging issues they are hearing about or facing online. [p.26]

Implementing peer-to-peer support

It could also include peer-to-peer support. Experts have told us that pupils like to hear from other pupils when learning about staying safe online. Schools could consider implementing a scheme which supports pupils to help their peers stay safe online. [p.26]

Up to date training and CPD for staff

Reviewing and maintaining the online safety principles. This includes making sure that school staff have access to up to date appropriate training/CPD and resources, so that they are confident in covering the required content in a way that is relevant to their pupils’ lives. It could also include using information available to the school to review practices and ensure the issues facing their pupils are covered in a timely manner. [p.26]

Embedding online safety principles

When teaching curriculum subjects and other teaching opportunities. Reinforcing what is taught in lessons by taking appropriate and consistent action when a pupil makes a report of unacceptable online behaviours from another pupil, including cyberbullying, or shares a concern about something they have seen online. [p.26]

Support parents in implementing online safety principles at home

Modelling the online safety principles consistently. This includes expecting the same standards of behaviour whenever a pupil is online at school - be it in class, logged on at the library or using their own device in the playground. Schools should also ensure they extend support to parents, so they are able to incorporate the same principles of online safety at home. The further sources of information section includes information about organisations who can either support schools engage with parents or support parents directly. [p.27]

Other Policies

Keeping Children Safe in Education

View policy
Other Policies

Ofsted Education Inspection Framework (EIF)

View policy
Other Policies

Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education

View policy
Other Policies

Inspecting Safeguarding

View policy
Other Policies

UKCIS Education for a Connected World

View policy
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