Online Safety Considerations when Reopening Schools – New Resource from SWGFL for Education Professionals

28 May 2020 Andy Robinson

South West Grid for Learning, a partner in the UK Safer Internet Centre, has developed a new resource for schools to use when reopening. This resource looks at the online safety considerations that they need to consider. This blog takes a closer look at this resource and how it can help schools make the transition.

As new developments continue to come forward about when schools may reopen their doors, it is important to be prepared for the transition into regular practice again. Although lockdown laws have only been in effect for a couple of months, parents, pupils and staff across the nation have had to adapt to a very different way of life during the coronavirus pandemic.

Whichever way your school community has responded to the lockdown laws, it’s important to bear certain things in mind when the return does eventually happen. Our partners at SWGfL have put together a very helpful resource which offers some handy pointers and highlights certain issues to be aware of when school practice resumes.

What the resource covers

Online Safety Issues

  • Recognising that children may have had more exposure to technology during lockdown.
  • How this could have impacted them.

Wider Issues 

  • What to be prepared for and how to support children after lockdown.
  • Recognising that lockdown would have been a different experience for each individual child.
  • Reflecting on online lessons and how to manage in the future. 

What Schools Can / Should Do?

  • Remembering to remind and clarify safeguards to members of staff and highlight support routes to pupils and parents.
  • Keep online safety a number one priority whilst discussing opportunities and risks around newly discovered online platforms (e.g. video conferencing websites and apps)
  • Consider mental well-being of pupils.
  • Review policies, practices and safeguards as well as reviewing whether certain practices have impacted on learning.

Planning for Future Eventualities

  • Maintaining contact with children and allowing them to discuss worries and concerns.
  • Reviewing backup and contingency plans.
  • Updating staff training.
  • Preparing for a ‘second spike’

Why these considerations are Important

The majority of children have been working remotely for a number of weeks now. This means they have grown accustomed to a new daily routine of spending more time with their family and are very likely to have had more exposure to technology. With this in mind, the transition phase for children can vary across the board – each individual experience of lockdown could be drastically different to others.

It’s important to clarify the safeguarding and support routes available to pupils, parents and carers and make the necessary provisions for online or anonymous routes. Not only that, but it’s equally important to remind all staff of safeguarding reporting routines, especially if these have changed at all due to lockdown.

Your understanding of your pupils may have also changed after not seeing them for a long period of time in the school environment. You may know more about their home lives now than you did before. Some may be further advanced in their home schooled education then others, who now may need more support from staff. Make sure your safeguarding policies are robust enough for these situations.

What is Available?

SWGfL has put together a helpful resource that outlines the key points to remember when it comes to reopening your school. This also includes knowledge on online safety issues, communicating with your colleagues as well as actively working with children, making sure safeguards are considered, not to mention planning for future eventualities.

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