All schools will be required to put in place strengthened measures to protect children from harm online - including cyber bullying, pornography and the risk of radicalisation - under plans unveiled by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan today (22 December 2015).
Recent events have shown that the risks to young people being targeted by radical groups have risen and should not be underestimated - some school children who travelled or attempted to travel to Syria were able to access material about Daesh and foreign fighters via school computers.
Under the proposals published today for consultation, all schools will:
- need to have appropriate filters and monitoring systems, so that no child can access harmful content via the school’s IT systems and concerns can be spotted quickly
- be required to ensure that they teach their pupils about safeguarding, including online
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said:
As a parent I’ve seen just what an important role the internet can play in children’s education. But it can also bring risks, which is why we must do everything we can to help children stay safe online - at school and at home.
This includes ensuring young people know how to use the internet responsibly and that parents and teachers have the right measures in place to keep children safe from exploitation or radicalisation.
These measures are delivering on the government’s commitment to keep children safe from harm, as well as providing helpful support and information for professionals and parents so we are all equipped to help protect children in this digital age.
Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said:
The internet is a powerful tool but also poses obvious risks for children and young people. We think schools would welcome greater clarity on how to deploy appropriate filters and monitoring systems and that they will readily fulfil their safeguarding duties in this domain.
David Wright, Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, said:
It’s great that online safety is being incorporated into this document. The UK Safer Internet Centre is ready to work with DfE to explore how best to support schools in meeting this new requirement.
The government has also announced a further package of measures to help keep children safe online including:
- 2 practical guides on social media:
new online training will be launched in the new year for professionals, including nurses, doctors and teachers who work with children and young people, to equip them with the tools they need to handle online risks and support young people in today’s digital world
the National Crime Agency’s CEOP Command has revised and updated the parents content on the Thinkuknow website - the new site offers a completely refreshed suite of articles and guidance on all aspects of child internet safety, as well as providing specific advice for parents and carers on preventing their children from becoming victims of sexual abuse and exploitation both online and in the ‘real world’
- new industry-led awareness raising initiatives including Google’s ‘Internet Legends’ tour which will travel around the country delivering assemblies to school children in 40 locations during this school year, to help kids be safe online, so they can get the most out of all that the internet can offer.
Minister for Internet Safety and Security Baroness Shields said:
Government and industry have made great progress in our quest to make the internet a safer place for young people, but we recognise that risks and dangers remain.
The 2 guides we’ve published today, developed by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety’s panel of experts, are all part of our ongoing work to keep children safe online.
They will equip parents with the information they need for their children to explore the internet safely, and will be instrumental in helping new tech start-ups to routinely factor safety features into the design of their products and platforms.
Reg Bailey, CBE, said:
This package of online safety announcements is really welcome, and I think it really demonstrates a continuing commitment of the government to address online risks and support young people in today’s digital world.
This was the key recommendation of my independent report on the commercialisation and sexualisation of children to government in 2011. In tandem with the work already underway to make it less easy to access inappropriate material online, we have always known that we need to build a healthy resilience in our children and young people.
This has to come from work in schools and also with parents taking their share of responsibility. The provision of new statutory guidance and support with various learning resources will help schools immensely, and the guidance for parents, supported by the main industry platforms, like Google and Facebook, will help give parents the confidence they need in this fast moving environment.
The government made internet safety a compulsory part of the new curriculum in 2014. Schools can also teach e-safety during PSHE lessons and they are all required by law to have measures in place to prevent bullying and cyber bullying.
Schools already play a vital role in keeping children safe from harm online, including from the risks of radicalisation and cyber bullying. The majority of schools already have measures in place to protect children from harm online and are also teaching their pupils about the safeguarding risks that exist:
Brook Green Centre for Learning, a special school in Plymouth, Devon, has implemented a range of e-safety measures to ensure their pupils are protected. This includes a robust IT filtering system and a whole school approach to online safety with dedicated curriculum time as well as parent and carer training.
Notes to editors
Keeping children safe in education is statutory guidance that all schools and colleges must have regard to when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. We are consulting on strengthening the requirements on schools and colleges to keep children safe - including online. The consultation runs until 16 February 2016.
Building young people’s resilience and the promotion of fundamental British values lies at the heart of the government’s approach to preventing radicalisation, and this includes ensuring they are protected from the threat of extremist and ideological views and materials online. In July the government issued new advice to all schools and childcare providers to coincide with the new prevent duty and social media guidance, introduced as part of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, which legally requires a range of organisations including schools, local authorities, prisons, police and health bodies to take steps to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.
The Department for Education set up a telephone helpline (020 7340 7264) and an email address firstname.lastname@example.org to enable people to raise concerns directly with the department.
The new guide for parents on social media has been produced by the UK’s Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCISS), it includes practical tips about the use of safety and privacy features on apps and platforms, and some conversation prompts to help families start talking about online safety. The practical guide on child safety online for social media companies, and interactive services such as apps, cloud services and games, encourages them to think about online safety issues from the outset. Both will be available on GOV.UK from 22 December.
The Department of Health is providing funding for an e-learning course and other tools to help people spot when children are at risk from dangerous activity online. The resource will give nurses, doctors, teachers, and other professionals who work with children the understanding and guidance they need to support young people in today’s digital world. The materials will be hosted on an expanded version of the MindEd platform, and e-learning site run by a consortium of specialist children and mental health experts. It provides accessible online modules and information about children and young people’s mental health for professionals. The new resources will be launched on 9 February 2016, safer internet day, and the complete package will be available from March.