Appropriate filtering and monitoring
A Guide for education settings and filtering providers
Guide for education settings and filtering providers about establishing ‘appropriate levels’ of filtering and monitoring.
Schools in England (and Wales) are required “to ensure children are safe from terrorist and extremist material when accessing the internet in school, including by establishing appropriate levels of filtering”. Furthermore, the Department for Education’s statutory guidance ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ obliges schools and colleges in England to “ensure appropriate filters and appropriate monitoring systems are in place and regularly review their effectiveness” and they “should be doing all that they reasonably can to limit children’s exposure to the above risks from the school’s or college’s IT system” however, schools will need to “be careful that “over blocking” does not lead to unreasonable restrictions as to what children can be taught with regards to online teaching and safeguarding.” Ofsted concluded as far back as 2010 that “Pupils in the schools that had ‘managed’ systems had better knowledge and understanding of how to stay safe than those in schools with ‘locked down’ systems. Pupils were more vulnerable overall when schools used locked down systems because they were not given enough opportunities to learn how to assess and manage risk for themselves.”
To further support schools and colleges in England to meet digital and technology standards, the Department for Education published Filtering and Monitoring Standards in March 2023. In addition to aspects of both filtering and monitoring systems, these standards detail the allocation of roles and responsibilities, and that schools and colleges should be checking their filtering and monitoring provision at least annually.
The Welsh Government has published a common set of agreed standards for internet access provides the tools for schools to make informed choices over filtered provision whether delivered by the local authority or another provider
Previously included within the Scottish Government national action plan on internet safety, schools in Scotland are expected to “have policies in place relating to the use of IT and to use filtering as a means of restricting access to harmful content.”
The aim of the following documents are to help schools and providers comprehend, in conjunction with their completed risk assessment, what should be considered as ‘appropriate’ filtering and monitoring.