This page contains Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and other information that regularly arise when discussing Online Safeguarding. The items below will be regularly updated to reflect common topics so be sure to revisit regularly.
In addition, the 'Focus On...' section of the site (see link at the bottom of this page) also contains topical information which you may find useful.
Q: What is Online Safety?
As is highlighted in the Online Safeguarding Strategy in the Overview section, Online Safety is fundamentally a Safeguarding issue where technology is involved. It covers an ever increasing range of aspects of varying complexity including (but not limited to) Grooming, Bullying, Gaming, Radicalisation, Sexting, Online Addiction, Social Media, Online Fraud, Viruses/Malware and a variety of other related issues with an online element. Whilst not exhaustive, the ‘3C’s Risk Matrix’ referred to in the Strategy provides a useful overview of some of the types of issues to be considered.
Q: Is there a ready-made Online Safeguarding Policy I should use for my school or organisation?
Some school clusters and organisations will provide a set template for use across their establishments whereas others will require policies to be developed according to local requirements. However, Schools and Colleges will have a number of common core areas to address but will also require flexibility to adapt to reflect local priorities and/or arrangements. With this in mind, the South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL) have a nationally-recognised and very highly-recommended suite of high-quality template policies covering a very wide range of aspects which can be adapted to reflect requirements. Details on how to find these are available in the Schools and Children’s Workforce section of this site under Recommended Resources.
Q: Should the lead person for Online Safeguarding in my school or organisation be the person with the most technical expertise?
Online Safeguarding as the name suggests, is first and foremost a SAFEGUARDING issue and therefore should be led by the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL). However, addressing Online Safeguarding issues effectively will require a collaborative approach across the workforce and therefore, expertise should be drawn from those in the most appropriate positions including (but not limited to) colleagues with safeguarding responsibilities, technical expertise, curriculum specialists, governance/leadership and behavioural leads amongst others - collectively referred to as the Online Safety Group. Further information on this aspect is available in the Lancashire ‘Making Sense of KCSIE’ document available in the above mentioned Schools and Children's Workforce section.
Q: My school or organisation uses a Firewall on its computer network. Is this the same as a filtering system?
No, a firewall and a content filter perform similar functions but are not the same thing. In basic terms, Firewalls typically focus on data flowing in/out of a network (e.g. can the user connect to this internet location?) whereas content filters will focus on the actual content of the data (e.g. what does this webpage contain?).
Filtering systems have improved significantly over recent years and are an important safeguard though it is important that we understand their function – their purpose is to mitigate the potential for access to inappropriate/illegal sites and are therefore not a solution. Content filters, whilst important, should support and complement effective teaching and learning practices along with other mechanisms such as robust supervision and Acceptable Use/Behaviour Agreements.
Q: My school is a small Primary school – does my school need monitoring software as well as a filtering system?
Keeping Children Safe in Education 2016 places significant emphasis on the value of monitoring systems though it is important to remember that ‘one size does not fit all’ and that monitoring systemsmay include non-technical measures such as supervised access along with robust acceptable use/behaviour agreements. However, monitoring softwarehas become increasingly sophisticated with varying levels of complexity which can offer a number of extremely useful features. Monitoring requirements will therefore vary by establishment but whichever route or combination is taken, it is essential that the method employed is effective and can be evidenced as such. Further information around both Filtering and Monitoring can be found in the Schools and Children's Workforce section.
Q: I have a concern about a child but I am not sure whether to report it to the Police?
Regular advice given where technology or the online environment appears to cloud judgement is to ‘take the technology out of the equation’. Whilst this is sometimes easier said than done, we must remember that our concern is ultimately a safeguarding issue and therefore should be addressed according to established safeguarding procedures – if the child is in immediate danger then the Police should be contacted immediately. For Schools & Colleges, the SWGfL Online Safety Policy templates highlighted above include escalation flowcharts which will help to support developing effective policies and procedures. In addition, the Click CEOP Button on the site Homepage provides useful guidance about how and when to make a report.
Q: How do I know if a website is secure?
Encryption and security on websites and Social Media are becoming increasingly commonplace. Secure websites such as online banking and online shopping sites will contain a ‘padlock’ icon and use https:// in the address bar along with valid authenticity certificates. However, the most effective safeguard by far is our own behaviour - using reputable and well-known sites is always advisable and keeping personal information private will help to ensure you minimise the risk of fraud and identity theft online.
Q: Should I monitor my children’s access to the Web and Social Media?
During Parental Awareness Sessions, this is almost always a contentious issue for Parents & Carers and has become more complicated as Social Networks have evolved. As a general rule, it is often common for parents/carers to include this as part of their agreement with younger children when agreeing how and when they can go online. Older children and young people will understandably wish for more privacy and flexibility so it is useful to have the discussions as early as possible and agree some ground rules and expectations, both as a Parent/Carer and from your child's perspective. The Parents & Carers section contains some useful tips, guidance and resources to consider around these aspects.
Q: How often should my organisation receive Online Safeguarding Training?
This is addressed within the updated KCSIE guidance though good practice illustrates that access to regular updates is more effective than a single session once per year. However, those with a specific responsibility for Online Safeguarding should receive more in-depth training at least annually. This may include the lead person/s attending training and subsequently cascading the information to other colleagues in the establishment or by hosting a dedicated session for all staff.
Q: I am a Teacher/Professional in the children’s workforce and would like to contact someone for advice or guidance.
Whilst the Online Safeguarding section of the LSCB website attempts to cover some of the broader or more common queries, the breadth of issues or level of detail required will not cover all eventualities. As a Teacher or member of the Children’s Workforce, if you are unable to find advice on the topic you are looking for, you can find individual contact details for your area in the Further Support section of the Schools and Children's Workforce page. Alternatively, the UK Safer Internet Centre provides a dedicated Professionals Online Safety Helpline (POSH) who have excellent links with a number of major providers and can support you in helping to resolve your query. Contact details for the POSH Helpline are available in the Schools and Children’s Workforce section under Supporting Resources.
For Parents and Carers, the NSPCC and O2 have collaborated to provide the ‘Let’s Keep Kids Safe Online’ helpline which can advise on practical matters such as information about apps or settings or more personal enquiries such as online bullying or sexting. Contact details for the O2/NSPCC Helpline can be found in the Parents and Carers section of the site.