The internet and other digital and information technologies are powerful tools, which open up new opportunities for everyone. Electronic communication helps teachers and pupils learn from each other. These technologies can stimulate discussion, promote creativity and increase awareness of context to promote effective learning. Children and young people should have an entitlement to safe internet access at all times.
The requirement to ensure that children and young people are able to use the internet and related communications technologies appropriately and safely is addressed as part of the wider duty of care to which all who work in schools are bound. A school e-safety policy should ensure safe and appropriate use. The development and implementation of such a strategy should involve all the stakeholders in a child’s education from the Head Teacher and governors to the senior leaders and classroom teachers, support staff, parents, members of the community and the pupils themselves.
The use of these exciting and innovative tools in school and at home has been shown to raise educational standards and promote pupil / student achievement.
However, the use of these new technologies can put young people at risk within and outside the school. Some of the dangers 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.
• The sharing / distribution of personal images without an individual’s consent or knowledge
• Inappropriate communication / contact with others, including strangers
• Access to unsuitable video / internet games
• 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 young person.
Many of these risks reflect situations in the off-line world and it is essential that this e-safety policy is used in conjunction with other school policies (eg behaviour, anti-bullying and child protection policies). As with all other risks, it is impossible to eliminate those risks completely. It is therefore essential, through good educational provision to build pupils’ resilience to the risks to which they may be exposed, so that they have the confidence and skills to face and deal with these risks.