How to Maximise Online Safety at School

Online safety and security needs to be high on the agenda for schools who are increasingly reliant on a variety of technologies

Online safety and security needs to be high on the agenda for schools who are increasingly reliant on a variety of technologies. For instance, schools rely heavily on software that is predominantly accessed via Wi-Fi connections, this always brings a small amount of risk, so it’s important that the connection is secure. Additionally, the software schools are using stores a great deal of confidential data too, so implementing an online safety policy can reassure schools, as well as staff, students’ and students’ parents that everyone is being kept safe while online.

Here is an idea of some points the policy should cover:

  1. Roles and responsibilities

Ideally a team would be formed who ensures that online safety is being adhered to throughout the school. The ideal scenario is to create a group of stakeholders from across the school e.g. Governors, Headteachers, Teachers and IT staff. Each team member would have a defined role, for instance the IT Manager could be responsible for the day-to-day management of online safety; and the Headteacher could be responsible for ensuring all staff receive suitable training for online safety etc. With the fast pace of technology it would be recommended that the group meets regularly to discuss any issues or next step implementation that needs to take place.

  1. Logging on and off devices

A logging on and off procedure for when devices aren’t in use should be made clear to everyone who has access to edtech throughout the school – particularly in Secondary Schools when single devices could have multiple users in anyone day. All staff and students need to be aware of the potential access issues faced if they leave a machine logged on and leave the room e.g. access to sensitive information.

  1. Passwords

Ensure that strong passwords are in place as standard. Passwords are recommended to contain characters from three of the following five categories:

●      Uppercase characters of European languages (A through Z)

●      Lowercase characters of European languages (A through Z)

●      Base 10 digits (0 through 9)

●      Non-alphanumeric characters: ~!@#$%^&*_-+=’

●      Recommended length between 8 and 16 characters

●      Recommended to force password change every 30 days

  1. Email content

Filters and anti-virus software are a good starting point, but schools are also advised to educate students on clicking on emails when they don’t know the sender, and also clicking through links in emails when they’re not 100% certain on the content. Controlled email systems are available that allow schools to monitor emails and also limit the addresses that children can communicate with.

  1.  Parental support

Try to encourage parents to get involved with online safety, especially if students are accessing software and school emails at home. However, be mindful that it can be overwhelming for parents to keep up-to-date with latest fast changing technology and potential threats. Provide a helping hand by keeping them updated on what the school is doing to encourage online safety, and signpost them to other sources of information for example, BBC Stay Safe and the Google Family Centre.

For more information, please read through Promethean’s ‘Quick Guide to Simplifying School Technology Management’.