Working Remotely? – Advice for Professionals & Parents from POSH & RHC

As UK schools close, or run at a limited capacity as a result of COVID-19, we know managing a child’s use of technology and helping them learn remotely can feel overwhelming, but we are here to help!

You’re probably starting to get settled in now – you’ve got a playlist on the go and thoughts of redecorating and DIY have probably entered your mind. But as we enter the world of remote learning, there are some things we need you to know.

As young people spend more time online, now more than ever, online safety is a number one priority. Whether you’re a professional now working from home or a family member now taking on the role of ‘educator’, please read the below information to get the full ins and outs:

If you’re a professional working with children and young people:

  • One of the risks to professionals that may not be so obvious right now is ‘one on one’ communication with young people online.  While 1:1 time can be very valuable, professionals need to consider how appropriate this is at this time; for example looking at how they might counteract a claim from a young person when a situation called for it. It is also worth considering that more than one staff member is “in the room” for any online contact with a young person is taking place. 
  • There are lots of free apps and websites that offer group chats and spaces: Skype, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams and Zoom to name a few. As long as you have considered the implication and made notes of what decisions have been made and why, it should be fine. Now is a really important time to review or create policies to fit into online remote learning or support sessions. Take a look at the template policies on SWGFL website to help inform and review yours.
  • It is really important for schools and other organisations to maintain good communication with the young people that need it most, especially during this time. If possible, encourage young people to communicate with each other, maybe even facilitate a daily catch up so everyone gets a chat, even if there is nothing specific they need.
  • Communicating online may allow you a view into a young person’s world that you would not have seen before (and would maybe not have had the opportunity to without this crisis). This may generate some safeguarding concerns for that young person. Keep in touch with your DSL and be sure to report any concerns you have.
  • Continue to follow your establishments safeguarding processes and remind yourself what to do in the event that you witness abuse in the home or have another safeguarding concern. You may want to discuss this process with your DSL beforehand so you know what to do. The Department of Education has published guidance on COVID-19 and safeguarding in schools, colleges and other providers that you can reference. They also have an advice page for educators that is updated regularly. Do also take a look at the blog we wrote for Safer Internet Day about responding to disclosures. If you or a colleague has a safeguarding concern then you should continue to act and act immediately. There may be some delays and difference in procedures so logging your concern is really useful and helpful and might be all you can do immediately. Keeping recording logs during this time will help build up the bigger picture and ensure everyone is kept well informed. Discuss with your DSL how and where you will store and share such logs safely and securely.
  • At times like these it’s always great to see the community coming together, with people helping each other out. However, it’s worth remembering that in these unprecedented times, there will sadly be a number of ‘bad actors’. Currently, there are lots of people offering support to parents and carers for home-schooling via groups and live streams across a multitude of platforms. This unfortunately could be seen as an opportunity for unsavoury characters to find their way to young people. There will be people looking to exploit these situations and, whilst the majority of people’s intentions are well-meaning and honest, it would be timely to remind children’s primary carers about these risks.

Don’t forget if you’re a professional working with young people you can contact the Professionals Online Safety Helpline for further advice and support:

Are you a parent or carer who has found themselves taking on the role of a teacher too?

Whilst we all try to navigate this new role and strike the right balance between working, schooling and free time, we’re bound to hit a few bumps in the road.

The reality of changing a physical learning environment into a virtual one can present its own problems. For some, they might be having to navigate entirely new online systems and platforms not to mention trying to supervise a child’s learning. Also, having children home all day, might mean (emphasis on might!) that suddenly you are gifted more of an insight into their online world. This may throw up opportunities to learn together but could equally bring some problems to the surface.

  • Email schools for advice and guidance about the applications being used in online learning. They are still working remotely and will respond to emails and phone calls. Ask for advice and help if you need it. Having a chat with your child’s class teacher may help to reassure you and give some steer on what to focus on for your child. No-one expects you to drop everything and replicate the school environment at home, rather, just to focus on a few bits each day where you can. Remember the ratio of you to your children is a lot smaller than that of a class teacher, you’ve got this!
  • If you’re juggling work as well as this new role, speak to your employer about what is expected of you and what can reasonably be achieved during this time. A reasonable employer will understand that these are extraordinary circumstances and make allowances for that. If you feel you are not being treated fairly or whether measures that can be put in place are not being followed, find out what your rights are and speak to ACAS and/ or Citizens Advice for further advice and support.
  • If an issue comes to light online either for you or your child, visit Report Harmful Content for more advice. If you have already reported the issue but haven’t received a response, or it wasn’t quite what you were expecting, do submit a report to us for review. We may be able to escalate an issue for further investigation and rest assured, if we can’t help, we’ll do our best to signpost you to the people that can. Anyone over the age of 13 can submit reports and access on their devices. It’s worth letting children know about the website in case their first response isn’t automatically to come and tell you.
  • Try and strike a balance that’s right for you. There may be all singing all dancing remote learning schools popping up online, perhaps your child’s school is one of them. The intention is good here, but being online for the whole school day is an incredibly long time for young people, especially primary aged children. Do take a look at our article about balancing screen time for further advice. 
  • Don’t forget that key workers are entitled to continued child care at this time. Many schools will be adapting to provide this level of support. Whilst the arrangements being made won’t suit everyone, this might take a weight off your mind. Do take a look at the government’s definition of key workers to see if you’re eligible.

Remember, we are here to help you. Any problems or issues that may arise, please contact one of our helplines. You can find out more about our services here and how we can help.

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