Safeguarding is an extremely important topic in schools. In our role as educators and as people ‘in loco parentis’, it is incumbent upon us to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children in our charge. That said, how do we as education professionals ensure children are kept as safe as possible in school and particularly when using technology in the classroom?
Some see this as the role of the designated safeguarding lead or the technical team who administer software to help keep track of all of these things. In a recent ad hoc poll carried out on Twitter by our Head of Education, Mark Anderson, we saw a great response to the following question:
It was heart-warming to read that those who responded overwhelmingly shared that it was our collective responsibility.
In the comments, we also saw (and pleasingly so) that a significant number recognised that it is not just all a shared responsibility as the adults in schools, but also acknowledged the importance of working in partnership with parents and children too. We all play a part in this.
So, what is safeguarding and how does it happen?
Safeguarding, as defined by the NSPCC, is:
- protecting children from abuse and maltreatment
- preventing harm to children’s health or development
- ensuring children grow up with the provision of safe and effective care
- taking action to enable all children and young people to have the best outcomes.
So, how does that translate to the learning and activities young people engage with whilst online in school?
Protecting children from abuse and maltreatment
When it comes to protecting children in this regard when using technology, schools can employ software to monitor the words children are typing into the learning tools and systems they use. This can help to spot bullying, inappropriate interactions and provide an insight into what they are searching for, ensuring a close eye is kept upon their interactions and can be responded to when needed.
Preventing harm to children’s health or development
Tools such as those mentioned above that track keywords searched for, written about, or shared in peer-to-peer interactions can be exceedingly helpful in ensuring children are protected so that no harm comes to their health or development. Additional solutions that filter harmful content away from children’s eyes when using the internet or tools where things such as grooming could occur are also helpful in ensuring their wellbeing and safety.
Ensuring children grow up with the provision of safe and effective care
In an online context, this means thinking carefully about what places and spaces you allow your learners to access and providing easy access to them too. Tools that let you ‘allow’ (and ‘restrict’) access to only certain sites (which can be easily opened by your students) is a great way to continue the provision of safe and effective care in online environments, just as you do in physical ones.
Taking action to enable all children and young people to have the best outcomes
What action can educators take to achieve this? For me, this means not leaving your success to chance; it means making sure you have thought about and conducted a virtual/online learning risk assessment (just as you would for a physical activity) and have prepared your online sessions to use tools that help provide for those best outcomes. This means you can employ the things mentioned above, plus:
- be available to help your learners either virtually or in the classroom
- be able to see their screens
- be able to grab their attention immediately
- be able to share WAGOLLs
- be able to peer assess
- be able to respond to questions – and more…
These are all ways you can take action to enable all children and young people to achieve the best possible outcomes.
Well, whilst this topic is supremely important, being NetSupport, with a long heritage of providing safeguarding tools to education, you will be delighted to read that we have just launched some fantastic new safeguarding features to our online teaching and learning platform, classroom.cloud!
Check out these great new eSafety features…
Word cloud of trending terms: Spotting trending topics at a glance is easy with classroom.cloud’s innovative word cloud. Created by the words students generate, it quickly identifies trending topics that are active across your school. Clicking on any word in the cloud allows safeguarding staff to view a full explanation and definition to help them understand the potential risk, as well as who triggered it.
Keyword and phrase monitoring: classroom.cloud’s keyword and phrase monitoring tool (powered by over 14,000 phrases in multiple languages) enables schools to monitor what topics students are typing or searching for – even in Microsoft Teams. Schools can also share and exchange local terms with other schools and add any new ones to their database.
Contextual intelligence-based Risk Index: With this index, safeguarding staff can see how potentially ‘at risk’ students are in their online activities. It not only considers a student’s current activity, but also the context (time of day, device used, history of similar searches and more), creating a risk index number that indicates whether urgent intervention is needed – and, if so, enables the safeguarding team to do so with the correct professional response.
Preserve students’ privacy: Online safety issues require sensitive handling and confidentiality. classroom.cloud supports this with its easy-to-use access rights that can be applied or changed as needed, ensuring only authorised safeguarding staff have access to the information.
To sum up
So if you’re looking for a tool that not only helps you support teaching and learning when using technology, but also helps you achieve great safeguarding coverage for your learners, why not take a free trial of classroom.cloud for your school!
Visit classroom.cloud to learn more and sign up for your free, no obligation trial.