Each school will be at a different stage in its online safety journey.
Assessing your current practice is an important part of creating a safe and supportive environment in your school. It will help you to identify areas of strength and those requiring improvement.
The Prepare resources help schools assess their readiness to deal with online safety issues and provide suggestions to improve their practices.
They are useful for designing or strengthening school policies and procedures in online safety.
Online safety self-assessment tool
This self-assessment tool is designed for school leadership teams to assess their school’s online safety environment. It provides tailored suggestions to help schools improve their practices.
- Is school leadership committed to creating and maintaining a safe online environment?
- Is the school actively implementing the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations?
- Does the school have staff members with responsibility for online safety?
- Does the school have policies and procedures in place to safeguard against, and respond to, online safety incidents?
- Do policies and procedures outline expected behaviours and roles of school community members when engaging online or using digital technologies?
- Does the school effectively plan and assess the risks and benefits before introducing new online platforms or technologies?
- Does the school minimise the risks of exposure to sensitive/ harmful information through actively monitoring and filtering harmful content?
- Has the school considered how to minimise the risk of students being inappropriately contacted via email?
- Do policies or procedures set out who will moderate the school’s social media and websites, and when they will be moderated?
- Are there clear guidelines about the acceptable use of the school’s name, logo and brand
- Does the school provide information to students and their parents/carers about how their personal information (such as names, photos, work samples or other identifying information) will be used online?
- Does the school have clear policies and procedures about how photos and videos of students will be managed, stored and shared?
- Does the school have procedures in place for responding to online safety incidents, for example serious cyberbullying or explicit image sharing?
- Does the school engage the whole school community to create and maintain a safe online environment?
- Does the school take a comprehensive approach to online safety education through curriculum and teacher professional learning?
- Does the school use preventative, harm minimisation and incident management strategies to support everyone involved in online incidents?
New technologies risk-assessment tool
- Will students’ personal information be publicly displayed (e.g. photograph, date of birth, gender or name of school)?
- Can external, unauthorised users communicate with students?
- Does the platform encourage students to use their existing email or social networking accounts for sign in or use?
- Are student profiles linked to apps that can display their location?
- Does the education department prohibit the use of this technology or platform?
- Can students access inappropriate content using this technology or platform?
- Have minimum age requirements for the technology or platform been adhered to?
- Does the platform promote privacy and security for students and their accounts?
- Have parents/carers consented to their child using this technology or platform?
- Are staff comfortable and confident using the platform?
- Is there a staff member moderator for chat or comment functions?
- Does the platform have capacity to report problems or misuse?
- Do all users know how to set the platforms’ privacy settings?
- Have you identified how data is stored and used by the platform?
Guidelines for social media use, video sharing and online collaboration
- Ensure use is authorised by the education department or sector and school leadership team before setting up a school social media account. Schools should comply with existing departmental or sector policies, privacy and copyright when setting up and managing the account.
- Communicate to the school community that the purpose of school social media sites and platforms is to share school communications — not to raise complaints. Consider turning off comments and sharing on posts to encourage appropriate use. Schools are encouraged to have clear and transparent communication channels within the school (not on social media) to enable students and parents/carers to voice their concerns and seek resolution.
- Determine who will have administration rights and who will be responsible for uploading content and monitoring interactions on sites or platforms. School accounts should have secure login, authentication procedures and be monitored regularly. It is good practice for at least two members of staff to have access, including a member of the school leadership team. Schools are encouraged to provide targeted training for these staff.
- Promote compliance with copyright and trademark law by advising the school community about acceptable use of the school’s name, logo and brand online and the consequences for misuse. Procedures should be in place to monitor and take down inappropriate posts on school sites. Referring to potential breaches of copyright or trademarks may help when requesting that content is removed from social media sites.
- Respect confidentiality and privacy by always seeking consent from the student and their parent/carer, and staff consent, prior to publishing their information online. This includes names, photos, videos, work samples or other identifying information. Schools could have an opt in or opt out process at the start of each year that clearly outlines what is covered and where extra permissions will be requested.
- Be clear about managing, storing and sharing photos and videos of students and other school community members. This includes where, how and for how long images are stored, the naming conventions used with images and whether the school permits students and parents/carers to record events. Securely store consent and media forms as per the school’s Privacy Collection Notice or local policy, ensuring this is in line with the education department or sector policy. Recognise that a student’s cultural background may be a determining factor in how their images can and cannot be used. Consider circumstances that could place the student at risk of harm if their image or information is shared, such as where there may be legal proceedings or a court order relating to child protection, custody, domestic violence or family separation.
Tips for responding to incidents that happen outside schools hours
- If an issue is impacting the wellbeing of a student, staff should take steps to support the student and provide strategies to assist them.
- Regardless of when or where an incident has occurred, or the type of incident, staff should be guided by what is best for the student — considering their rights, views and wishes.
- Schools and staff have a duty of care as well as legal and ethical responsibilities to respond to reasonably foreseeable harm and to mitigate risks.
- Schools ensure that factors affecting a student’s ability to learn and a teacher’s ability to teach are addressed through their school’s wellbeing, pastoral care and behaviour management procedures.
- Schools work in partnership with parents/carers and support services, if required, considering the rights, views and wishes of the students involved.
- If the circumstances surrounding an incident are not clear, schools are encouraged to seek advice from the relevant education department, sector or school board.