If your school is teaching children remotely, you should consider what safeguarding measures you need to put in place. These should be included in your safeguarding and child protection policies and procedures.
> Find out more about how to keep your safeguarding and child protection policies and procedures updated during the pandemic
Here are some things you need to take into account:
Which platform will you use?
Always make sure the platform you are using is suitable for the children’s age group, stage of development and ability. Set up school accounts for any online platforms you use (don’t use teachers’ personal accounts). Double check the privacy settings.
> Visit Net Aware, created in partnership with O2, for information about privacy settings on the latest social networks, apps and games (including video calling apps)
You should make sure parents, carers and children understand the benefits and risks of online lessons and get written consent for children to be involved. Talk to your staff about how you plan to deliver remote lessons – are they comfortable with teaching online?
> Tailor our example consent form to your needs
If you plan to record or livestream lessons via an online platform, you need to assess any risks and take appropriate actions to minimise harm.
> Read our information to make sure you know how to livestream safely
Maintaining professional boundaries
Teaching online is different to teaching face-to-face. But adults should always maintain professional relationships with children and young people.
Remind staff of your code of conduct and make it clear how you expect them to behave.
If you’re recording or live streaming lessons, make sure teachers are in a neutral area where nothing personal or inappropriate can be seen or heard in the background.
> Look at our example behaviour code for adults working with children
Adult to child ratios
It’s best practice to have at least two adults present when working with children and young people. This applies both on- and offline.
The number of adults you need for online lessons will vary depending on the children’s age and stage of development, and the activities being carried out.
For example, if you’re using ‘breakout rooms’ on an online platform, you need to consider how will these be supervised.
> Read our recommended adult to child ratios for working with children
Contacting children at home
Sometimes staff might need to contact children individually, for example to give feedback on homework. Staff should only contact children during normal school hours, or at times agreed by the school leadership team (DfE, 2020).1
Any one-to-one sessions, for example pastoral care meetings, should be risk assessed and approved by the school’s leadership team (DfE, 2020). Make sure staff know what safeguarding measures to take if they are having a one-to-one conversation with a child.
> Read our information about one-to-one contact
Use parents’ or carers’ email addresses or phone numbers to communicate with children, unless this poses a safeguarding risk. Use school accounts to communicate via email or online platforms, never teachers’ personal accounts.
Make sure any phone calls are made from a blocked number so teacher’s personal contact details are not visible.
If staff members are accessing families’ contact details at home, ensure they comply with the Data Protection Act 2018.