Headlines: February 10th, 2010

A conference will be told today what schools can do to ensure the safety of pupils when they are online. Research by Oftsted has found that children in schools with managed online systems have a better understanding of how to stay safe when using new technologies than those limited to locked systems.

Details of the study will be unveiled in Birmingham at ‘Empowering children and young people in a digital world’, the biennial conference on safeguarding run by BECTA, the agency charged with driving forward the use of new technology in education. The Ofsted report is published a day after the UK Council for Child Internet Safety launched a Government-backed online safety campaign aimed at children as young as five.

Ofsted says managed systems have fewer inaccessible sites than locked ones and so require pupils to take more responsibility for their own safety. Locked systems ensure pupils’ safety in school but do not encourage them to take responsibility or prepare them for dealing with systems that are not locked.

Inspectors found provision for e-safety was outstanding or good in the majority of the 35 schools they visited. The report also finds that it is important for schools to work closely with families, and use children’s and families’ views more often to develop strategies. There also needs to be a focus on training staff so that they can reinforce the importance of e-safety in schools and homes.

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert, said: “Children and young people do not always have the knowledge, skills and understanding to keep themselves safe and so it is essential that our schools teach them how to stay safe online. There are some valuable lessons in this report for all schools.”