Safeguarding teachers and pupils online

Overview

You might be concerned about safeguarding issues when teaching pupils remotely from home. In this article we summarise advice from the Department for Education (DfE) and link to useful resources to support.

It should be read alongside COVID-19: safeguarding in schools, colleges and other providers.

Communicating with pupils and parents

The DfE explains that although education is now having to take place remotely, it’s important for schools, teachers and pupils to maintain professional practice as much as possible. When communicating online with parents and pupils, school should:

  • Communicate within school hours as much as possible (or hours agreed with the school to suit the needs of staff)
  • Communicate through the school channels approved by the senior leadership team
  • Use school email accounts (not personal ones)
  • Use school devices over personal devices wherever possible
  • Advise teachers not to share personal information

Safeguarding: virtual lessons and live streaming

The DfE explains there is no expectation that teachers should live stream or provide pre-recorded videos. Schools should consider the approaches that best suit the needs of their pupils and staff.

Teaching from home is different to teaching in the classroom. Teachers should try to find a quiet or private room to talk to pupils and parents. When broadcasting a lesson or making a recording, consider what will be in the background.

In some areas, schools may also be able to seek support from their Local Authority when planning online lessons and activities and considering online safety.

We have published another article which looks at meeting expectations set from your school.

Providing pastoral care remotely

The DfE explains helping parents and pupils to make a weekly plan or structure that includes time for education, playing and relaxing is important to reduce stress and anxiety for families. 

As set out in Public Health England’s guidance for parents and carers, routine can give children and young people an increased feeling of safety in the context of uncertainty.

Schools might want to consider whether one-to-one sessions could be appropriate in some circumstances. For example, to provide pastoral care or provide support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

This should be discussed and approved by the senior leadership team to assess any risks. There may be helpful solutions, such as including a parent or additional staff member in the call.

Safeguarding: keeping children safe online

The DfE explains schools should emphasise the importance of a safe online environment and encourage parents to set age-appropriate parental controls on digital devices and use internet filters to block malicious websites.

It recommends the following resources to support safeguarding to keep children safe online:

  • Thinkuknow provides advice from the National Crime Agency (NCA) on staying safe online
  • Childnet offers a toolkit to support parents and carers of children of any age to start discussions about their online life, to set boundaries around online behaviour and technology use, and to find out where to get more help and support
  • Net-aware has support for parents and carers from the NSPCC, including a guide to social networks, apps and games
  • Let’s Talk About It has advice for parents and carers to keep children safe from online radicalisation
  • UK Safer Internet Centre has tips, advice, guides and other resources to help keep children safe online, including parental controls offered by home internet providers and safety tools on social networks and other online services

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