There can be little doubt that e-safety is an important part of the well-being and safeguarding of children, young people and vulnerable adults. There is also no doubt that there is a significant amount of scaremongering that does little to give schools confidence to move forward and innovate strategically with ICT across the curriculum.
E-safety is a journey; it is a sum of many parts which, combined, will allow schools to gain confidence and really drive forward. Generally speaking, these parts are:
In today’s teaching world, we are all expected to be “digital natives” and to use all the tools available to enhance teaching and learning. We look to use all sorts of devices to help us communicate, to make life simpler, to be more efficient. We don’t use diaries any more but link our calendar of meetings to our phones or to Outlook. We don’t really need to talk to each other because email, Facebook and Twitter obviate the need for oral communication. We are starting to live in worlds that are hermetically sealed, as our work and social activities become increasingly electronic.
There’s nothing startlingly new in the above paragraph; but with all these new technologies come serious implications for safeguarding. Alarmingly, some teachers are blithely unaware of, or choose to ignore, situations that could cause untold damage to their careers.
In April this year, the NUT warned teachers about the dangers of befriending pupils on social networking sites such as Facebook. The implications are so great that some schools have banned teachers from using Facebook altogether.
It's certainly true that Facebook can be a perilous place for teachers. Is it okay to accept a “friend request” from a pupil whom you know personally? What happens if you reject that friend request? Can you prevent pupils from viewing your pictures and wall posts? What should you do if a pupil posts a message on your wall? What happens if a pupil sees a comment you've made on someone else's wall?