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Supporting ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ guidance

The Department for Education’s latest update of its Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance came into force on 1st September 2021, ready for the 2021-22 school year. Safeguarding runs through every part of a school and it is essential that all members of staff understand their responsibilities in this area. This year’s KCSIE update particularly emphasises that governing bodies and proprietors are responsible for ensuring that staff working with children understand the guidance and are able to carry out their safeguarding responsibilities – and they must also decide whether staff in roles that do not involve direct work with children should read Part One or a condensed version of the guidance.

Here, we outline how our IT Management and Safeguarding solution (NetSupport DNA), our Classroom Management solution (NetSupport School) and our platform for remote learning (classroom.cloud) can help schools to meet their safeguarding requirements in line with the guidance, whilst simultaneously offering support to students in need.

The following tables show a quote from the Keeping children safe in education (2021) guidance (from Part one: Safeguarding information for all staff and Part two: The management of safeguarding) plus its given number in the document, followed by an explanation of how NetSupport’s solutions help support each one.

Part one: Safeguarding information for all staff

What school and college staff should know and do

The role of school and college staff

6. “School and college staff are particularly important, as they are in a position to identify concerns early, provide help for children, promote children’s welfare and prevent concerns from escalating.”

NetSupport DNA and classroom.cloud’s Keyword and Phrase monitoring tool allows teachers/Safeguarding Leads to gain an insight into students’ activity as they use school technology. In addition, NetSupport DNA allows teachers to document any concerns about individual students via its ‘Add a concern’ feature and teachers can see a ‘History’ of concerns. Students can also ‘Report a concern’ to a trusted teacher directly from their desktop – or the school’s website out of school hours. In addition, its self-service directory of external online resources enables them to seek help outside of the school if they wish.

NetSupport School’s Monitor Mode allows teachers to monitor students’ screens to gain an insight into students’ activity as they use school technology.

7. “All staff have a responsibility to provide a safe environment in which children can learn.”

NetSupport School delivers a secure learning environment with its “Always-on” security settings, the ability to create lists of approved/restricted websites and control of portable media device use.

To ensure systems are both safe and flexible, NetSupport DNA offers a full safeguarding toolkit that includes tools such as alerting, monitoring, user profile creation, internet/application metering and USB endpoint security – while classroom.cloud provides teachers with insights into the risk levels of students’ online activity via its word cloud and contextual intelligence alerts.

classroom.cloud ensures security for students learning remotely by allowing the school to define the dates and times staff will connect to them, as well as approved school network details, thereby protecting them from unauthorised connections. It also offers an eSafety toolkit that includes keyword and phrase monitoring (in multiple languages), a keyword cloud, and numerical risk analysis to indicate the severity of events.

NetSupport DNA also includes a ‘Health and Social Distancing’ AUP available to provide updates across the school – and a report to show who has read and accepted all AUPs.

8. “All staff should be prepared to identify children who may benefit from early help. Early help means providing support as soon as a problem emerges at any point in a child’s life, from the foundation years through to the teenage years.”

Having an insight into students’ activity is invaluable and could help facilitate an early intervention when students are engaged in activity that could place them at risk. NetSupport DNA and classroom.cloud provide teachers with this via a contextual intelligence-based Risk Index that produces a risk score for an individual student at that moment in time, meaning that teachers can intervene as necessary. In NetSupport DNA, they can also use the ‘Add a concern’ tool to make notes of a developing situation with a student – and mark vulnerable students on the system to facilitate an extra layer of support.

11. “The designated safeguarding lead (and any deputies) are most likely to have a complete safeguarding picture and be the most appropriate person to advise on the response to safeguarding concerns.”

NetSupport DNA and classroom.cloud’s safeguarding tools can be operated by safeguarding staff, independently of the IT team, ensuring confidentiality and enabling their professional response. When a safeguarding keyword is triggered in NetSupport DNA, DSLs and supporting staff can now ‘tick’ or ‘untick’ it to highlight whether their review of the incident is complete; a useful feature to help staff track which ones need attention.

classroom.cloud ensures that only authorised staff have access to the most sensitive information, via its easy-to-use safeguarding access permissions.

What school and college staff need to know

13. “All staff should be aware of systems within their school or college which support safeguarding and these should be explained to them as part of staff induction. This should include the: child protection policy (which should amongst other things also include the policy and procedures to deal with peer on peer abuse); behaviour policy (which should include measures to prevent bullying, including cyberbullying, prejudice-based and discriminatory bullying); staff behaviour policy (sometimes called a code of conduct); safeguarding response to children who go missing from education; and role of the designated safeguarding lead (including the identity of the designated safeguarding lead and any deputies). Copies of policies and a copy of part one of this document (KSCIE) should be provided to staff at induction.”

NetSupport DNA provides a flexible method of delivering and tracking policy distribution in a school; automatically presenting them to new staff to read, to all staff when updates have been applied, or to students to agree to an Acceptable Use Policy. The single upload saves time for administrators, who can assign the policy to a distribution list, and, as a bonus, ensures an accurate record is kept of who has seen and agreed to each policy. In response to the pandemic, a template is now also provided for a Health and Social Distancing AUP

What school and college staff should look out for

Abuse and neglect

23. “All staff should be aware that safeguarding incidents and/or behaviours can be associated with factors outside the school or college and/or can occur between children outside of these environments. All staff, but especially the designated safeguarding lead (and deputies) should consider whether children are at risk of abuse or exploitation in situations outside their families. Extra-familial harms take a variety of different forms and children can be vulnerable to multiple harms including (but not limited to) sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation, sexual abuse, serious youth violence and county lines.”

NetSupport DNA and classroom.cloud both use sophisticated contextual AI risk analysis to extend the concept of context to factors within the school. The contextual intelligence-based Risk Index automatically assesses the context and history of a child’s activities on the school’s network – devices used, time of day, websites visited etc – and, from this, creates a numerical risk index. A high-risk index could result if a child has repeatedly researched a safeguarding topic (e.g. suicide) out of hours in an unmonitored setting such as the library. A lower index rating could result from a student searching a lower risk keyword in a local application during school hours that may have been used in a lesson.

24. “All staff should be aware that technology is a significant component in many safeguarding and wellbeing issues. Children are at risk of abuse online as well as face to face. In many cases, abuse will take place concurrently via online channels and in daily life. Children can also abuse their peers online, this can take the form of abusive, harassing, and misogynistic messages, the non-consensual sharing of indecent images, especially around chat groups, and the sharing of abusive images and pornography, to those who do not want to receive such content.

classroom.cloud monitors the online safety keywords and phrases students type and staff can gain an insight into any trending issues, as well as identify individuals who are engaged in concerning activity. Schools can also choose to connect classroom.cloud to their Microsoft 365 tenancy to enable monitoring of Microsoft Teams chats and channels and more. In NetSupport DNA, students can report instances of abusive online behaviour to trusted members of staff via the ‘Report a concern’ feature – even out of hours via the school’s website if the school has enabled this.

Safeguarding issues

31. “All staff should have an awareness of safeguarding issues that can put children at risk of harm. Behaviours linked to issues such as drug taking, alcohol abuse, deliberately missing education and consensual and non-consensual sharing of nudes and semi-nudes images and/or videos can be signs that children are at risk.”

NetSupport DNA and classroom.cloud’s Keyword and Phrase monitoring feature has a database of over 14,000 safeguarding terms, compiled with the Internet Watch Foundation and schools we work with. NetSupport DNA’s database also includes the Counter Terrorism Referral Unit (CTIRU) list, which schools can choose to enable or disable. When any terms in the database are triggered, staff can see these in a word cloud, enabling them to spot trending issues at a glance. In NetSupport DNA, when staff review these events, they can highlight the status of their review by marking it as ‘in progress’ or ‘complete’, so all staff are aware.

Staff using NetSupport School can conduct regular wellbeing surveys via its Student Feedback mode, to get an idea of who is thriving and who may be struggling with any kind of issue. Staff noticing any changes to a student’s demeanour can use the chat and message functions to start a conversation with them in both NetSupport School and classroom.cloud, which may be easier for them than discussing things face to face.

Record keeping

71. “All concerns, discussions and decisions made, and the reasons for those decisions, should be recorded in writing…”

NetSupport School can provide a record of students’ keyboard activity, website and application usage for that lesson – while in NetSupport DNA, using ‘Report a concern’, students can confide their worries to staff and attach screenshots, messages or other evidence to their concern record.

When verbally told of a student’s concern, teachers can add it to NetSupport DNA via the ‘Add concern’ tool, to ensure all concerns are logged together. The teacher can select which member of staff they would like to report the concern to, enabling the selected staff member to track, re-assign it and record any follow-up actions directly. The ‘History of concerns’ tool means that staff can track these over time – and the ability to re-assign them to another member of the safeguarding team means they are always visible.

Why is all of this important?

73. “It is important for children to receive the right help at the right time to address risks and prevent issues escalating…”

Alongside all the alerting features in NetSupport DNA, teachers can also flag any students they know are particularly at risk as ‘vulnerable’ on the system – and even group these students together so they can be monitored in a single view. This makes it easier for concerned staff to keep an eye on these students, so they can act quickly if necessary. If teachers are made aware of current issues (e.g. via NetSupport DNA and classroom.cloud’s keyword clouds), then they are better placed to take the appropriate action.

Part two: The management of safeguarding

Whole school and college approach to safeguarding

82. “Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure they facilitate a whole school or college approach to safeguarding … Ultimately, all systems, processes and policies should operate with the best interests of the child at their heart.”

The safeguarding tools in NetSupport School, NetSupport DNA and classroom.cloud can all help to support schools as part of a successful safeguarding policy, offering a range of tools to help them monitor students’ online activity as they use school technology and offer support where needed.

The designated safeguarding lead

91. Whilst the activities of the designated safeguarding lead can be delegated to appropriately trained deputies, the ultimate lead responsibility to safeguarding and child protection … remains with the designated safeguarding lead. This responsibility should not be delegated.”

The structure of your safeguarding team can be defined in both NetSupport DNA and classroom.cloud by setting up different safeguarding roles. The designated safeguarding lead who has overall responsibility can be assigned the ‘Safeguarding Administrator’ role that allows full access to all eSafety tools. The role of ‘Safeguarding User’ can then be applied to deputies and other members of the team for more streamlined access, if appropriate.

Information sharing

105. “Information sharing is vital in identifying and tackling all forms of abuse and neglect…”

For any serious safeguarding incident that needs to be referred to external agencies, evidence and records are key. The fact that NetSupport DNA records triggered keywords or reported concerns now forms an important part of an evidence trail – and that the school has been able to classify its vulnerable students demonstrates its vigilance. Any retrospective information required can be extracted from DNA either from its reporting tools – plus, depending on severity, triggered events are stored as a simple log, a screenshot or screen recording that provide the full background to an event.

classroom.cloud also records triggered safeguarding events. When reviewing an individual trigger, staff can copy the details into a document to save, email to a colleague or print. They can also filter multiple keyword triggers by their status, select the desired category (New, In progress or Complete) and export to a .csv file, email or print them.

108. It is important that governing bodies and proprietors are aware that among other obligations, the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR place duties on organisations and individuals to process personal information fairly and lawfully and to keep the information they hold safe and secure.

NetSupport DNA’s GDPR toolkit can help school administrators to know exactly what data they hold by identifying all file types that may contain confidential information about students or staff. It also includes using tools to record whether the software used in the school is GDPR compliant in terms of the student personal data it stores. In addition, to help schools reduce the amount of sensitive data they keep, a data retention policy can be set to run and delete data over a specified age. In addition, any phrase matches triggered in classroom.cloud are retained in the system for 13 months while the school’s subscription is active. Should they choose to cancel their subscription, all data is removed after 30 days.

Staff training

115. “In addition, all staff should receive regular safeguarding and child protection updates … to provide them with relevant skills and knowledge to safeguard children effectively.”

Any updated policies or information sheets can be distributed to staff via NetSupport DNA and senior leaders can see via its tracking who has read and acknowledged them. In addition, the opportunity for ad hoc safeguarding update training is provided as terms occur in the student-generated word clouds in NetSupport DNA and classroom.cloud – meaning that staff can either share information between themselves or talk about topics with students, as necessary.

Opportunities to teach safeguarding

122. “Whilst it is essential that governing bodies and proprietors ensure that appropriate filters and monitoring systems are in place, they should be careful that ‘over blocking’ does not lead to unreasonable restrictions as to what children can be taught with regard to online teaching and safeguarding.”

Over-blocking can mean that any potential safeguarding problems are simply shifted elsewhere, so NetSupport DNA and classroom.cloud offers teachers an insight into their students’ online activities so that they are aware of exactly what risks students are being exposed to, as well as being able to gauge their understanding of the elements of digital citizenship. Its flexible tools ensure that checks are in place to ensure a safe environment in which to learn. Meanwhile, the word cloud tool in both NetSupport DNA and classroom.cloud can provide ‘teachable moments’ for students when staff spot a trending term that they need to be educated about.

Online safety

123. “It is essential that children are safeguarded from potentially harmful and inappropriate online material. An effective whole school and college approach to online safety empowers a school or college to protect and educate pupils, students, and staff in their use of technology and establishes mechanisms to identify, intervene in, and escalate any concerns where appropriate.”

As students learn online digital citizenship skills, NetSupport School and classroom.cloud narrow the parameters of how far they can go with the ability for the teacher to create ‘allowed’ and ‘restricted’ website lists to ensure unsuitable sites are out of reach.

NetSupport DNA also allows the creation of profiles to meet the need of each year group – ensuring that internet access is age-appropriate while allowing the students the flexibility to learn about the online world.

In classroom.cloud, teachers can open web pages directly onto students’ screens, thereby eliminating any chance of them accessing unsuitable content.

Filters and monitoring

128. “…governing bodies and proprietors should be doing all that they reasonably can to limit children’s exposure to … risks from the school’s or college’s IT system. As part of this process, governing bodies and proprietors should ensure their school or college has appropriate filters and monitoring systems in place. Governing bodies and proprietors should consider the age range of their children, the number of children, how often they access the IT system and the proportionality of costs vs risks.”

In addition to web filtering with age-appropriate settings,NetSupport DNA’s safeguarding toolkit allows schools to proactively and reactively safeguard students by alerting teachers to which students are engaged in concerning activity – and tracking application use for context to help avoid false alarms or over-blocking. classroom.cloud uses similar contextual intelligence in its online safety tools to produce a Risk Index number for each alert to indicate its severity level to staff. Thanks to screen monitoring (NetSupport School, NetSupport DNA and classroom.cloud) and alerts (NetSupport DNA and classroom.cloud), safeguarding leads are notified at the earliest opportunity and can take the appropriate action for each triggered event.

Inspection

136. “Since September 2019, Ofsted’s inspections of early years, schools and post-16 provision are carried out under Ofsted’s Education Framework. Inspectors will always report on whether or not arrangements for safeguarding children and learners are effective.”

Both NetSupport DNA and NetSupport School retain all documentation electronically, making it easy to access and ensuring everything is covered. From tracking AUPs to monitoring any ‘Report a concern’ activity and outcomes (including archived reports and viewing the safeguarding keyword reports), staff can gain and demonstrate a greater understanding of safeguarding topics within their school. In addition, NetSupport DNA’s  GDPR toolkit helps schools ensure the protection of students’ data, which ties into the confidentiality needed for safeguarding issues. Meanwhile, classroom.cloud stores records of triggered events which staff can copy or export as evidence for inspection, if required.

Peer on peer abuse

145. “Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure that their child protection policy includes: procedures to minimise the risk of peer on peer abuse … [and] how allegations of peer on peer abuse will be recorded…”

Both classroom.cloud and NetSupport DNA’s Keyword and Phrase monitoring can give teachers an insight into whether forms of peer on peer abuse are occurring, while at the same time helping to detect safeguarding issues across all topics – including any reference to upskirting (declared a criminal offence in April 2019). NetSupport DNA’s language packs also allow teachers to extend their safeguarding provision to a wider group of students, as the packs allow them to see and monitor phonetic representations of what students are typing in languages other than English.

Children potentially at greater risk of harm

159. “Whilst all children should be protected, it is important that governing bodies and proprietors recognise (and reflect in their policies and procedures) some groups of children are potentially at greater risk of harm.”

NetSupport DNA allows children at potentially greater risk of harm to be grouped together on the system for easier monitoring and oversight.

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