Report shows one third of schools in England lack effective staff training 

22 Sep 2023 UK SIC

The latest report by SWGfL (as part of their work for the UK Safer Internet Centre) has unveiled that more than one-third of schools in England are falling short in providing effective staff training, despite it being a statutory requirement. This finding stems from the latest insights taken from the online safety self-assessment tool 360Safe, which reviewed over 14,500 schools against how well they are performing against acceptable standards for online safety policy and practice. As seen from previous years, the data outlines the persistent issue of inadequate staff training within educational institutions, with a staggering 45% of them also lacking Governor training. 

In conjunction with this report, SWGfL has introduced the updated Online Safety Index, offering a comprehensive overview of local authority areas’ performance and engagement levels with the 360Safe tool. This in-depth analysis covers 150 local authorities, assigning rankings to gauge their relative performance compared to the rest of England. Notably, North Somerset stands out as the leader in this regard, occupying the number one spot as a result of their performance and engagement scores. 

In a positive trend observed in comparison to the previous year, many local authorities have either maintained or significantly improved their rankings. For instance, Bristol has made substantial progress, going from Rank 35 to Rank 9. Nevertheless, some regions have witnessed a decline in their rankings, underscoring the ongoing imperative for sustained engagement and an enhanced approach to online safety. 

Strengths being seen 

Encouragingly, there have been noteworthy strengths exhibited across England’s educational landscape, with “the vast majority of schools having effective policy in place and in a lot of cases, strong technical interventions.” Filtering and monitoring have both emerged as particular strengths throughout the year. However, it’s essential to bear in mind that the current emphasis on filtering and monitoring, driven by the introduction of new standards in this domain, may impact rating scores over the coming year. In light of these changes, schools are now expected to review their filtering and monitoring provisions while ensuring the effective operation of their systems. We also strongly urge professionals to stay up-to-date with these recent developments and adapt their practices accordingly. There are free webinars available to educate staff about these changes.  

David Wright (CEO of SWGfL and Director of UK Safer Internet Centre) said: 

This annual report illustrates the current online safety landscape. Although many strengths are being seen, it is disappointing that schools are once again, still not training their staff effectively. Online safety practice is strengthened through knowledge. We must equip staff with the right tools to effectively protect the young people in their care. This is a statutory requirement that over a third of schools in England are currently not addressing – more needs to be done. 

Online Safety Training 

The data highlights the distinct need for improved online safety training within schools and colleges. If your community is looking to address this, you can find a range of training options from SWGfL that can be tailored to your needs. As part of the UK Safer Internet Centre, SWGfL also run the free Online Safety Live events that are available for any professional across the UK who works with children and young people. 

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