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Meeting The New DfE School Safety Measures

A recent DfE statement requires schools to put in place strengthened measures to protect children from harm online.

Recent events have shown that the risks to young people being targeted by radical groups have risen and should not be underestimated – some school children who travelled or attempted to travel to Syria were able to access material about Daesh and foreign fighters via school computers.

“Unsecured pupil data on USB sticks and portable hard drives is an example of inadequate practice (Ofsted)”

The measures to be taken include:

  • Appropriate filters and monitoring systems so that no child can access harmful content via the school’s IT systems
  • Ensure that pupils are taught about safeguarding.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said:

“These measures are delivering on the government’s commitment to keep children safe from harm, as well as providing helpful support and information for professionals and parents so we are all equipped to help protect children in this digital age.”

Meeting DfE Safeguarding Guidelines

But like many statements from government departments, this one is long on aims, reasoning and rhetoric and short on implementation detail.

Many legal requirements like this one that relate to IT come down to understanding current best practice. And while schools have a clear responsibility to implement best practice as it relates to teaching and learning, they can hardly be expected to constantly monitor the state of the art when it comes to digital security.

As an example, it's well understood that every teacher's digital lifeline is provided by USB sticks and more commonly portable hard drives containing every lesson plan, worksheet or class activity they ever used. Given their reliance upon portable digital media it always amazes us how teachers never use the 'safe media eject' option and how many have gone through the terror of realising their data is corrupt just before an Ofsted observation?

But from an Ofsted perspective there are even worse things to worry about. How many teachers also copy pupil data onto portable media so they can work on levels and predicated grades from Home?

Well, if you do, then you should really be aware of the following:

“According to the OFSTED Report ‘Inspecting e-safety in schools’ an example of inadequate practice is “personal data is often unsecured and/or leaves school site without encryption.” You could lose points by not addressing this issue.”

So there you have it. Any unsecured item of personal data on a USB stick or portable hard drive that isn't secured and you will lose points. Did you know that?

So how do you go about securing that data or ensuring that 'no child can access harmful content via a school's IT systems'. Well, the truth of the matter is that you can't with all certainty - what happens if BBC Bitesize gets hacked? What you can do to put yourself in a defendable position is employ best practice - and in our opinion that's by using security solutions from Eset. Give us a call for more information.

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