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Supporting student online safety in Northern Ireland

‘Everyone in the education service plays a part in keeping children and young people safe.’

This phrase appears in the Northern Ireland Department of Education’s Protecting and safeguarding our children guidance. Its sentiment is repeated many times across the country’s multi-agency safeguarding model that breaks down barriers and extends across all agencies that have young people’s best interests at their core. 

The guidance also states, ‘Your child’s school will have measures in place to ensure that pupils are safeguarded from abuse.’ 

This is where technology can assist. 

NetSupport’s relationships with educators and the way we co-create our products with teachers and schools mean that we know how huge teachers’ roles already are. We built classroom.cloud with them to assist with e-safety in their classrooms – helping them to provide a safe learning environment, a mechanism for looking out for students’ wellbeing, and the visibility into their online activities that allows in-the-moment teaching about the risks and rewards of the online world. 

Introducing classroom.cloud 

NetSupport’s cloud-based solution for classroom management and instruction, classroom.cloud, has a comprehensive online safety (e-safety) toolkit incorporating NetSupport’s contextual intelligence-based technology (which also reduces false positives), so staff can see the context of any safeguarding alerts triggered by the students. 

It offers schools a range of tools to monitor online activity, identify students at risk, be alerted to online safety trends, boost digital citizenship skills and wellbeing – all in line with the guidance and resources Northern Irish schools are already using, all while helping with learning and teaching in the classroom at the same time. 

Meeting requirements

Northern Ireland’s safeguarding guidance is multi-agency, far-reaching and comprises many detailed and informative documents. Here are a few ways that classroom.cloud can assist schools with some of the e-safety points they mention.

ICT in the curriculum 

The NI curriculum requirements for using ICT are set out under five headings known as ‘the five Es’:

Explore 

Express  

Exchange 

Evaluate  

Exhibit 

These apply to all pupils from Year 1 to Year 7, so e-safety should be at the heart of all technology-enhanced learning.

How classroom.cloud can help:

Simply blocking unsuitable content does not help students learn. Instead, classroom.cloud encourages a culture of good digital citizenship, with its keyword monitoring tool providing teachers with real-time insights into any trending issues, as well as identifying individual students who are engaged in concerning activity. 

To do this, it checks terms against its inbuilt database of more than 14,000 safeguarding terms, covering issues from self-harm, gambling and bullying to racism and radicalisation. It alerts the teacher when phrases are matched, displaying them in an informative word cloud (with explanations of terms supplied). 

Some schools have even told us that these tools have allowed them to intervene at just the right time for students who were experiencing serious difficulties. 

With classroom.cloud’s controls for allowed/restricted lists for websites and applications, students can learn to navigate the online world with the controls in place to keep them safe. 

How Being ‘alert to signs’

The Co-operating to Safeguard Children and Young People in Northern Ireland policy includes the following statements.

Page 50: 

“Those working or volunteering with children or young people should be alert to signs that may indicate grooming and take early action in line with their own organisational policies and procedures and section 4 of this policy to enable preventative action to be taken, if possible, before harm occurs.” 

How classroom.cloud can help:

classroom.cloud’s contextual intelligence-based Risk Index helps your school determine the severity of triggered events and ensures you can quickly and easily identify and support vulnerable students.

It works like this: The Risk Index assesses the context and history of a student’s current activities (the device used, time of day, websites visited and applications used) and considers them alongside any previous alerts they may have triggered. From this information, it creates a risk index number that is applied to the event. So, if a student has repeatedly researched an online safety topic (e.g., suicide) out of hours, in an unmonitored setting such as the library, a high risk index could result. A lower index rating could come from a student searching a lower-risk keyword in a local application during school hours that may have been used for curriculum topics.

Building the skills to stay safe

Page 58: 

“Children and young people need to be facilitated and encouraged to develop safe and responsible online behaviours as this provides the best defence for keeping them safe online.” 

How classroom.cloud can help:

classroom.cloud’s word cloud of trending safeguarding topics provides a real-time overview, allowing staff to take timely action where needed. Additionally, this overview offers staff timely ‘teachable moments’ (e.g., for year groups or whole-school assemblies) before potential problems escalate.

Tools for your e-safety policy
Again, on page 58: 

“Organisations which engage with children and young people using e-technology should have a specific e-safety policy in place which has been made available to parents and young people. This should outline how the organisation mitigates against risk of harm and help ensure as far as possible that children and young people engaging with the organisation online are kept safe when doing so.” 

How classroom.cloud can help:

classroom.cloud’s online safety tools can form part of a school’s e-safety policy with its tried and tested functionality.

Online Safety High Risk image

At a high level, it:
  • monitors concerning activity
  • identifies students at risk
  • spots online safety trends
  • boosts digital citizenship skills
  • offers students a way to reach out for help – and more.
Online Safety High Risk image

And on a proactive level, it:
  • allows schools to create and manage acceptable use policies to outline the appropriate use of school technology and the online space
  • provides a ‘Report a concern’ feature for students to reach out to trusted members of staff
  • offers a directory of self-service helplines and resources if they prefer to access external help
  • provides a ‘Report a concern’ feature for students to reach out to trusted members of staff
Summary

Online safety is a critical part of any school’s edtech provision – and keeping children and young people safe online applies, no matter where your school is located.

 

See what others say about classroom.cloud

Discover classroom.cloud’s impact in schools worldwide from our case studies and testimonials.

In addition, find out how it can help you with classroom management and instruction by reading this independent evaluation of classroom.cloud’s pedagogical approach.