Most of us rely on the internet heavily in our day-to-day use, and schools are no exception. The internet allows for quick and effective communication amongst staff and gives teachers access to an endless pool of resources and ideas to craft inspired lessons that keep students entertained and engaged. However, this does not come without risk. Schools are sensitive environments, and it’s important to find the right balance where teachers, students, and members of staff can access the vast range of inspiring educational resources that the internet offers, but are protected from any dangerous, explicit, and harmful content. Here’s our advice on finding the right balance of internet access in your school to ensure you can optimise performance without putting your students or staff at risk.
Educate staff and pupils on how to stay safe online
The internet is a powerful tool, and it’s important that your staff and pupils understand how they can stay safe online. Take the time to train your staff on the best practices when using the internet in a school environment and develop a staff policy regarding the appropriate use of the internet in a professional setting.
As with most things, education is an effective preventative measure. Make sure your pupils know the risks that the internet can present and the best way to deal with them. Consult an expert on the most appropriate way to teach internet safety in your school and develop a training programme that teaches students the dangers of irresponsible internet use and advises them on the best methods for staying safe. Your goal should be to allow students to protect themselves against threats whilst making the most of the resources that the internet has to offer.
Monitor and regulate internet use
In a school environment, effective network monitoring is essential. All school computers should be monitored and controlled by an IT manager who can ensure that all pupils are using the computers responsibly. Your IT manager should also be in charge of regulating internet use so that the computers are only used for research and work purposes and that pupils are not able to access explicit or harmful content.
If your school’s internet offers Wi-Fi as well, this should be regulated in the same fashion and should be fitted with a secure password which should be changed regularly, increasing the wireless security of your network. It is also worth considering whether you or not you actually need Wi-Fi, as disabling wireless networks is a great way to remove a whole host of vulnerabilities.
The chances are, there is no reason that any device on your school network should be able to access any form of explicit or harmful content. This is why schools use strict browsing filters to block any websites that are deemed to be suspicious or unsuitable. There are many ways in which this can be implemented, the best choice is often to employ a specialist to install this on your behalf, which will ensure that pupils are protected and the school is not liable for any potentially unsuitable material. This way, you are not only keeping students safe, you are also keeping them focused by removing access to distracting, or non work-related sites.
Reporting and recording incidents
Encourage students and staff to inform someone if they come across an unsuitable site and keep a detailed record of incidents. Every student and member of staff should know what to do if they have any concerns about their safety online. This ensures that you can work quickly to resolve the issue and take the necessary steps to deal with the incident appropriately and sensitively. This also ensures that, in the event of a complaint, you can recall exactly what happened and why, and you have evidence to support the preventative measures you had in place and show how you responded.
To find out more about how you can ensure security in a sensitive environment, speak to one of our IT consultants today at 0800 043 4448.