Safer Internet Day – 7th February 2023

Four female students working on computers

Dear Parents/Carers,

As an academy we have always worked with software providers to indicate when a device account may be being used in an unsafe manner, such as by conducting inappropriate internet searches or document creation.

With the ever-changing landscape of technology, our practice must be kept up to date as it is a key part of our safeguarding duty. We are now pleased to be able to announce that we are further developing this important protective layer for our pupils and staff.

We are working in partnership with Smoothwall to ensure that all school accounts and devices whether inside or outside of school are appropriately monitored. Smoothwall is a real-time, digital monitoring solution that flags incidents as they happen. Monitoring both keystrokes and screen views, safeguarding staff are informed, through a variety of means, when users try to view or type any content that could be harmful.

This is a safeguarding led remote monitoring arrangement aimed at protecting all users from risks of online bullying, and pupils who may be at risk of wellbeing or safeguarding concerns. Data from student accounts is never seen in its entirety but identified risk words and phrases are reviewed and risk assessed by Smoothwall and will be passed onto the school safeguarding team if they meet set thresholds of concern or risk. This is an important strengthening of our safeguarding arrangements to protect our users as we increasingly operate in electronic forums as part of our wider digital strategy.

The safeguarding team will review the content of the monitoring and will liaise with the relevant staff. They will consider if there is a need to further educate pupils, undertake individual discussions, set sanctions or provide any further support that is required. If appropriate parents/carers will be contacted to ensure we are working together to support our pupils.

Technology is an amazing resource that enables children and young people to connect, communicate and be creative in a number of different ways, on a range of devices. However, the internet is always changing, and being able to keep up to date with your children’s use of technology can be a challenge.

You may sometimes feel that your child has better technical skills than you do; however, children and young people still need advice and protection when it comes to managing their lives online. Issues that your child may encounter on the internet will vary depending on their age and online activities. Privacy settings online may also allow you to customize the information that each friend is able to access. If you have concerns that your child is, or has been, the subject of inappropriate sexual contact or approached by another person, it’s vital that you report it to the police via the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

If you have any concerns about your child’s experiences online or in school, please contact Academy DSL – Neil Arnould (using – FAO – Mr Arnould) and we will work with you to address these. The Designated Safeguarding team can be contacted using details on the school website in the safeguarding section.

Thank you for your continued support.

Neil Arnould
Head of College