New teacher-backed advice outlining how school staff can guard themselves against cyberbullying has been announced by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan today (17 November 2014). It sends a clear message that school staff deserve protection from online bullying in the same way that their pupils do.
Announced as part of Anti-Bullying Week, the advice will help keep teachers safe from online abuse. It encourages heads to get tough on bullying and support their staff facing abuse, as well as outlining a number of steps teachers can take to protect themselves online.
Reports suggest around 1 in 5 teachers have reported having derogatory comments posted about them on social media sites - including from both parents and children - highlighting the need for teachers to be supported further.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said:
We all know the dangers children face from online bullies, but we sometimes forget that teachers are not immune from abuse which impacts on them professionally and personally.
It’s vital that all our teachers feel able to do their jobs properly, including being able to take a firm stance on poor behaviour. To do that they need to know their school will take action against reprisals in the form of online harassment and abuse.
This new advice, backed by teachers, provides helpful tips and suggestions for teachers to help protect themselves online and encourages heads to get tough on the cyberbullying of their staff.
Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said:
The NUT welcomes the publication of ‘Cyberbullying: advice for headteachers and school staff’, and its commitment to help schools tackle cyberbullying. Addressing cyberbullying in an appropriate environment will be beneficial for staff and students.
Brian Lightman, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said:
Whilst new technologies and wide access to the internet bring exciting educational opportunities, cyberbullying can have a pernicious impact. ASCL welcomes this useful guidance document which will help schools and colleges in their efforts to do everything they can to protect their staff.
Rachel Snape, headteacher of the Spinney Primary School and a national leader of education, said:
This DfE guidance published to coincide with Anti-Bullying Week is a very useful and welcome resource to tackle the cyberbullying of teachers and school staff, which is a very serious matter for schools to address.
Not only does it offer practical suggestions on ways to address online harassment of school staff, but it also sets out a very clear expectation to all members of the school community to behave responsibly online. It is vital that everyone can experience the positives that social media can bring within a safe online environment.
The advice warns teachers of the risks of being identified online. It suggests they should all search for their own names to scan for any negative comments and advises against accepting friend requests from current or former pupils.
It also suggests teachers should be wary of being tagged in inappropriate photographs or videos on social media.
Today the Education Secretary is also announcing further advice for parents on keeping young people safe from cyberbullying, offering suggestions on how children can avoid abuse on instant messaging platforms and social networks and what to do if they are cyberbullied.
The announcement comes as a recent survey of teachers shows that around a fifth do not feel well equipped to deal with cyberbullying in the classroom.
Notes to editors
- Anti-Bullying Week 2014 is running from 17 to 21 November 2014.