New technologies have become integral to the lives of children and young people in today’s society. The internet and electronic communication allows teachers and pupils to learn from each other and access a wide range of information sources. Digital and new technologies engage all pupils and allow teachers to develop an inclusive practice and enhance learning and teaching activities. Technologies enable pupils to access the wider curriculum and to present information in a wider variety of ways. These technologies can stimulate discussion, promote creativity and increase awareness of context to promote effective learning. Pupils and all staff should have an entitlement to safe internet access at all times. The use of these exciting and innovative tools in school and at home has been shown to raise educational standards and promote pupil achievement. However pupils do not always have the knowledge, skills and understanding to keep them safe which can put them at risk inside and outside of the school .As schools increasingly work online, it is essential that children are safeguarded from potentially harmful and inappropriate online material (including when they are online at home).
Some of the potential dangers which they may face include:
- Access to illegal, harmful or inappropriate images or other content.
- Unauthorised access to/loss of/sharing of personal information.
- The risk of being subject to grooming by those with whom they make contact on the internet.
- Inappropriate communication/contact with others, including strangers.
- Access to unsuitable video/internet games.
- Inability to evaluate the quality, accuracy and relevance of information on the internet.
- Plagiarism and copyright infringement.
- Illegal downloading of music or video files.
- The potential for excessive use which may impact on the social and emotional development and learning of the pupil.
Many of these risks reflect situations in the real/off-line world and this Online policy must be used in conjunction with other school policies e.g. Behaviour and Anti-bullying, Safeguarding and Child Protection, Curriculum Policies and the staff hand book. It is impossible to eliminate all risk and therefore essential to teach pupils to recognise potential dangers and to equip them with the skills to deal with them. Note – New concerns or risks can develop very quickly in the digital world and as such changes may be made to this policy before the review date.
As a school we must demonstrate that we have provided the necessary safeguards to help ensure that we have done everything that could reasonably be expected of us to manage and reduce these risks. The Online policy that follows explains how we intend to do this, while also addressing wider educational issues in order to help pupils and their parents/carers to be responsible users and stay safe while using the internet and other communications technologies for educational, personal and recreational use.