The Independent Grammar School: Durham
SAFE USE OF TECHNOLOGY (COMPUTERS, PHONES, SOCIAL MEDIA etc.) POLICY
This policy should read alongside our Child Protection (Safeguarding), Staff Behaviour, Anti-Bullying and Peer-on-Peer Abuse Policies,
Children and young people need to be empowered to keep themselves safe. This isn’t just about a top-down approach. Children will be children – pushing boundaries and taking risks. At a public swimming pool, we have gates, put up signs, have lifeguards and shallow ends; but we also teach children how to swim. Dr Tanya Byron, “Safer Children in a digital world: the report of the Byron Review”
Technology has transformed the way society behaves, communicates and accesses information. Even very young children are increasingly exposed to a huge variety of hardware and media: games consoles, laptop computers, mobile phones, iPads etc., all of which offer unlimited access to the internet, together with the facilities and social media which they run: Facebook, texting, Skype, Twitter, Instagram, Bebo, MySpace, Periscope – the list is growing all the time – as well as the ability to take photographs very readily.
This technology brings wonderful opportunities, not least in the classroom. At IGS: Durham, we will provide carefully-managed resources to enable children to benefit from the growing range of educational software on the market and to sensibly use the internet to gather information and conduct research.
The technology also brings real risks. It remains a relatively new phenomenon and the controls and regulation surrounding it is still often inadequate. Children can be at risk from a range of dangers, among them grooming, gambling, pornography, identity theft, stalking, bullying and general harassment.
The challenge therefore for all schools, and we at IGS: Durham take it very seriously, is to allow the benefits to be enjoyed but eliminate as much of the risk as possible.
IT in the Curriculum
At IGS: Durham we will typically have one computer for every two pupils. This will allow considerable opportunities for creative and sensible computer use. A limited range of quality-checked software will be available. We will adopt very strict controls on what can be accessed via the internet and will err on the side of caution in this respect. For very young children, the use of the internet will be extremely limited. We will employ an IT consultant who will advise us during the set-up phase and periodically therefore. He will monitor usage and report misuse to the Executive Principal.
For older children – and indeed for the very young, who might have learned to be quite sophisticated from older siblings - we realise that simply blocking sites is not enough. We will make E-Safety a high priority as we seek to educate children about how to behave sensibly and responsibly on-line. As will be seen from our Curriculum plans and schemes of work, we are giving the topic a high profile.
The role of the Designated Safeguarding Lead
The DSL has received training in on-line safety and will attend regular training on the subject. We realise that technology changes very rapidly and young people are likely to be several steps ahead of most adults. Therefore we will ensure that the DSL maintains an up-to-date awareness of the latest developments and associated risks.
Every year, during staff training in September, the area of E-Safety will be covered by an outside expert and that training will involve all staff.
Misuse of Technology
We will not tolerate any illegal material being accessed or shared with other children. We will always report illegal activity to the police and/or the Local Child Safeguarding Board (LCSB). If we have reasonable concerns that a child is at risk in any way as a result of on-line activity we may seek assistance from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Unit (CEOP). We will impose a range of sanctions on any pupil who misuses technology to bully, harass or abuse another pupil and will do so in line with our Behaviour, Anti-Bullying and Peer-on-Peer Abuse Policies.
As far as the school is concerned, any comment made on line is deemed to be in the public domain and may therefore be traceable to the school. It is thus bringing the name of the school into disrepute and will be treated in the same way as any unacceptable behaviour within school or when using school systems.
Cyberbullying is a particularly unpleasant kind of bullying and we will deal very firmly with it. It is in our view cowardly, underhand and malign: in other words, it fundamentally contravenes our school’s values and ethos. In cases of cyberbullying we encourage children to tell a teacher about it and we will work hard with pupils and parents involved to make sure it does not happen again. Appropriate sanctions will be used against the perpetrators.
We realise that mobile phones have become part of life and that it is often desirable, for safety reasons, for children to have a mobile with them during the journey to and from school. This obviously applies only to older children. In such cases, phones must be handed in at the start of the day and collected again at the end of the day according to a simple protocol which will be strictly observed. Parents are asked to support the school’s stance on this issue by making it clear that they will not make calls to or receive calls from their child during school hours. Phones may not be used during school hours. Teachers may confiscate phones if necessary.
Communication between Staff and Pupils
All communication between staff and pupils must be formal in nature and in accordance with the Staff Behaviour Policy, which states: “Staff will never use their personal media (text, email, Facebook etc.) to communicate with any child at IGS: Durham of whatever age. Although it would be difficult to prevent anyone from communicating with an adult over the age of 18 who may be a former pupil from another school, staff are discouraged from doing so. All communications with parents or children must be through the school’s own channels and a formal tone should always be maintained.”
Should a member of staff every gain access to a child’s telephone number, it must be deleted at the earliest opportunity.
Certain sensible exceptions to the above may be made in the case of Educational Visits when it might be essential in the interests of safety for teachers to have pupils’ mobile numbers. In such cases, staff will be using school mobile phones but even so the numbers should be deleted immediately following the safe completion of the trip.
Photography is not allowed unless specifically permitted by a teacher as part of a lesson, in which case it will take place in a controlled environment and will be subject to the school’s Photography Policy.
We will not tolerate gambling in any form, either on personal devices or on the school system. If any child is found gambling, on line or otherwise, his or parents will be informed immediately.
If a child is found accessing or sharing pornographic images (either electronically or otherwise), his or her parents will be informed immediately.
Working with Parents
Most children are far more at risk in this area at home than at school. At least annually we will hold a twilight session for parents, to which we will invite an outside expert to share with parents the risks of IT misuse and the kind of strategies they might use at home. We do not wish to appear to be trying to tell parents how to bring up their child(ren) but experience shows that such sessions can be very valuable and are appreciated by parents, who may be lacking in their up to date awareness. Such sessions can be particularly powerful if part-led by a younger person, probably a sixth former, and we will aim to facilitate that through links with other schools.
Helpful Online Resources
There is a range of excellent resources online which pupils are encouraged to make use of where appropriate.
Childnet International (www.childnet-int.org)
Cyber Mentors (www.cybermentors.org.uk)
Bullying UK (www.bullying.co.uk)
The Independent Grammar School: Durham