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Staying safe online

07 Feb 2012

As part of Safer Internet Day on 7 February, Ofsted’s National Adviser for ICT, David Brown, has taken part in a marathon radio programme running from 9am to 9pm. During the interview, David reflected on the positive work of schools in raising awareness of e-safety with pupils and parents. He also stressed that the most effective schools made e-safety a priority in the curriculum, in staff training, in support for pupils and in raising awareness of the issues with parents. 

Safer Internet Day 2012 is a call to action for parents, carers and schools to talk to children and young people about what they are doing online and about safe and responsible internet use. It is also encouraging children and young people to share their knowledge about how to stay safe with their peers, parents, grandparents and teachers.

A recent Ofsted report, ICT in Schools 2008-11, mentions e-safety in schools. It notes that all the schools visited for the three-year survey ensured that pupils were well informed about the safe use of the internet and were able to use it in a responsible and safe way. However, the need for continued vigilance was emphasised by the fact that in discussions with inspectors, pupils frequently raised the issue of the under-age use of social networking sites.

Another survey report, The safe use of technologies, which we published in February 2010, found that pupils who are given greater freedom at school to use new technologies have a better knowledge and understanding of how to stay safe online. Schools where provision for e-safety was outstanding ran ‘managed systems’, helping students to become safe and responsible users of technology by allowing them to take more responsibility and manage their own risk. Pupils were more vulnerable overall when schools with ‘locked systems’ restricted access to almost every site; they were not given enough opportunity to learn how to assess and deal with online risk for themselves.

Both reports emphasised that good quality, regular staff training and support for parents needs to remain a high priority for schools. 

The reports, ICT in Schools 2008-11 and The safe use of new technologies, can be found on the Ofsted website and are listed below under resources. 

Details of the radio programme are available at www.saferinternetdaylive.com.

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