When it comes to safeguarding students, there’s always the worry of not knowing the full story. The difference between a student at home and a student at school can be night and day. What we see in the classroom may be a small window into what’s really going on, but as education professionals, we’re not always able to see the whole situation.
Despite this, a student’s online activity can show consistency in their interests and worries. What we all search for online is more personal and relates more to ourselves than to others. In other words, we don’t necessarily need to hide. If a student was concerned about a potential threat or needed help, the internet would be an understandable place to go. This, along with many other reasons, was why SWGfL created AMS.
What is AMS (Assisted Monitoring Service)
With AMS, specialists will essentially work alongside you in hovering over your monitoring system dashboard, and notify you within 3 hours if an urgent issue has appeared on your system. Many issues can be raised but when it comes to safeguarding students, it’s a valuable assistance to keep your school community safe. Not only that, but AMS monitors all (staff, children and visitors) activity to notify of any serious violation.
AMS draws on expertise developed via the UK Safer Internet Centre Helpline to help review and respond to safeguarding concerns in a timely fashion. The ultimate goal is to assist schools in managing their monitoring system notifications and response. AMS does this by providing a quality, reliable service that is affordable, and works to protect and empower schools to safeguard their children more effectively.
How does AMS work?
SWGfL has the capability and capacity to keep a continual eye on your schools monitoring dashboard, looking for alerts that require immediate intervention and then contacting the school. As these issues can occur at any given time, teachers may not have time to monitor themselves due to their busy lesson schedule. Equally they might not recognise an urgent alert or know what needs a response. AMS is there to assist in these instances, ensuring there is help and guidance in managing issues and assisting in the resolution.
SWGfL were able to see first-hand at how effective assisted monitoring could be when a particular case arose.
AMS picked up an alert from a school which came under the category of grooming. The specific term was “child abuse”. The alert revealed a girl in year 6 had been searching for resources about familial child abuse and parental neglect.
Upon reviewing other monitoring alerts the team couldn’t see any similar online behaviour from other students particularly in this year group. This led to the conclusion that this was a genuine search and not part of a particular lesson. The team immediately alerted the school’s safeguarding lead.
The next day the safeguarding lead indicated that they had spoken with the child there were safeguarding concerns at home that they had not previously been aware of. Process’ were being put in place and safeguarding referrals were being made as well.
While it is always very sad to find a child in such a state of distress this is a prime example of the power of specialists and effective technology working collaboratively together to safeguard children.
Another example that was brought to our attention.
An alert was raised which suggested that a member of staff had been searching for inappropriate sites during working hours. Reviewing other historical alerts generated against the member of staff, disclosed a collection of other concerning searches that together prompted a safeguarding issue. The dossier was shared with the school who investigated and later shared that the member of staff had been dismissed. The school were unaware of the issue highlighted by AMS. Through the collaboration between AMS and the school, resulted in action being taken to ensure the continued safety and protection of their students.
Instances such as these show that assisted monitoring is an effective way to ensure safeguarding duties are met.