E-safety for schools

Topics: Schools Online safety

Government guidance across the UK highlights the importance of safeguarding pupils from harmful and inappropriate online material (Department for Education, 2019a; Department of Education (Northern Ireland), 2017; Scottish Government, 2017; Welsh Government, 2015). This includes material accessed through devices such as computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones, as well as platforms such as social media and online games.

In England, the Department for Education (DfE) has published non-statutory guidance on teaching online safety in school (PDF). (DfE, 2019b)

A whole school approach to e-safety helps ensure staff, governors and parents are able to teach children about staying safe when using internet technologies. It also helps make sure pupils themselves know how to behave responsibly online.

Our information and resources can help you:

  • make sure your staff and volunteers are confident in online safety, identifying and responding to concerns
  • teach children and young people the skills to stay safe online
  • share helpful advice and resources with parents and carers
  • develop robust e-safety policies and procedures, IT infrastructure and support
  • regularly review and improve your e-safety provision.

> See also our advice for professionals on sexting

Staff training

Staff training

Digital technology is continually changing so it's important that schools stay up-to-date with new developments.

All school staff and volunteers should complete annual training to make sure they know how to recognise and respond to online risks.

Keeping Children Safe Online elearning course

Developed in association with CEOP, the child protection unit of the National Crime Agency, our Keeping children safe online elearning course will give anyone working with children the knowledge and skills to understand how children use the internet and how to respond to risks they may face online.

> Take our online training course Keeping children safe online

Resources

Resources

Teaching staff play a pivotal role in helping children and young people understand the online world, recognise risks and stay safe online.

Embedding key messages about online safety throughout the curriculum can ensure pupils of all ages know how to protect themselves and others online.

Teaching resources

We’ve developed a range of teaching resources to help teachers deliver online safety messages in an engaging and age appropriate way.

Our Share Aware lesson plans and teaching guidance can be used with children aged 5-11 to discuss topics such as sharing pictures and chatting to strangers online. The resources have received the PSHE Association Quality Assurance Mark.

We worked with the Anti-Bullying Alliance and Diana Award to develop a school pack about online bullying for pupils aged 11-16. The pack contains activities and resources which can be adapted for use in a lesson, assembly or with a school council. They focus on what children and young people can do if they witness cyberbullying.

Our Making sense of relationships lesson plans were developed in partnership with the PSHE Association. These focus on personal safety and healthy relationships and include topics such as online safety and online friendships. 

It’s Not OK is a set of lesson plans, films and accompanying activities for pupils aged 11 and over. These reinforce the importance of building and maintaining positive relationships and help young people recognise and respond to inappropriate behaviour. They cover topics such as online safety, grooming and sexting.

Safeguarding resources

> Take our online training course Keeping children safe online 

Childline

If a child or young person needs confidential help and advice direct them to Childline. Calls to 0800 1111 are free and children can also contact Childline online or read about online and mobile safety on the Childline website. You can also download or order Childline posters and wallet cards.

Policies and procedures

Policies and procedures

All schools and colleges should have policies and procedures for how to safeguard against and respond to an online safety incident.

Make sure you follow the national legislation and guidance about online abuse as well as the key statutory guidance for schools.

We have produced a range of resources you can use to develop and improve your child protection policies and procedures. These are part of our free Education Self-Assessment Tool (ESAT) which helps schools assess how well they are meeting statutory and recommended safeguarding practices.

> Go to our Education Self-Assessment Tool (ESAT)

E-safety or online safety policy

> Download What to include in an e-safety policy for schools (PDF)

> Download E-safety practice briefing for schools (PDF)

Acceptable use policy

Download our sample policy for the acceptable use of the internet, emails and computers for:

How to respond to an e-safety incident

> Download What to do if a pupil or a teacher reports an e-safety incident (PDF)

> Download Sample e-safety incident report form (PDF)

> Find out more about responding to sexting  

Ongoing monitoring and evaluation

The online world is always changing so make sure you keep up-to-date with developments and regularly review and update your policies, systems and procedures.

It’s a good idea to involve pupils in developing and reviewing your policies and procedures. You should share updated policies with all staff, volunteers, pupils and parents, highlighting what has changed. 

Our online training course, Keeping children safe online, includes resources to help you assess and improve your school’s approach to online safety. 

> Take our online training course Keeping children safe online

Policies and procedures need to be reviewed and updated regularly. It is a good idea to involve pupils in the development and review of policies and procedures. You should also share updated policies with all staff, pupils and parents, highlighting what has changed. 

 

Supporting parents

Supporting parents

Schools should help parents or carers learn about online safety as part of the whole school approach. We know from our research with parents that they want to learn more about online safety and would welcome information from their child’s school.

There are many ways to involve parents or carers. You could:

  • organise sessions where pupils teach parents or carers
  • share resources with parents through newsletters or handouts
  • show parents the learning resources you use in the classroom
  • circulate your e-safety policies.

Share our information and briefings

We've developed a range of online safety information and advice which you can share with the parents and carers at your school.

> See our online safety advice for parents on the NSPCC website

We also have a series of online safety briefings for parents which you can print off and hand out or download and send via email:

  • Sexting (PDF) summarises the key information from our sexting webpage on what sexting is, what the risks are and what parents can do to protect their children.
  • How to keep your child safe online (PDF) sets out 4 TEAM steps parents can take to keep their children safe online: Talk, Explore, Agree, Manage.

Net Aware - a guide to social networks

Net Aware reviews around 40 of the most popular social networking sites, apps and games used by children and young people. It also gives the views of parents and children.

Net Aware is a great resource to share with parents and carers who want to know about:

  • suitable ages
  • privacy settings
  • appropriate content
  • safety and support settings
  • and keep-up-to-date through our newsletter.

> Go to Net Aware

References

References

Department for Education (DfE) (2019a) Keeping children safe in education: statutory guidance for schools and colleges. London: Department for Education (DfE).

Department for Education (DfE) (2019b) Teaching online safety in school: guidance supporting schools to teach their pupils how to stay safe online, within new and existing school subjects (PDF) [London]: Department for Education (DfE).

Department of Education (2017) Safeguarding and child protection in schools: a guide for schools. Bangor: Department of Education.

Scottish Government (2017) Internet safety for children and young people: national action plan. Edinburgh: Scottish Government

Welsh Government (2015) Keeping learners safe: the role of local authorities, governing bodies and proprietors of independent schools under the Education Act 2002. Cardiff: Welsh Government.

Elearning

We’ve developed a range of online and face-to-face safeguarding training for schools, covering topics including safer recruitment, managing sexualised behaviour and child protection for school staff, safeguarding leads and governors.

> Browse our training for schools 

Further reading

For further reading about e- safety, search the NSPCC library catalogue using the keywords “online safety” and “schools”.

If you need more specific information, please contact our Information Service.