Latest research from SWGfL has found that over one third of schools across England lack effective staff training despite this being a statutory requirement for schools. This comes from the latest data seen from the online safety self-review tool 360Safe, which reviews over 14,500 schools against acceptable standards for online safety policy and practice. Once again, the latest figures have shown that staff training is highlighted as a cause for concern within schools, with 45% also having no Governor training in place.
Alongside the report, the Online Safety Index has been released, which illustrates the top and bottom local authority areas for performance and engagement with the 360Safe tool. Reviewing 150 local authorities, 360Safe is able to give a ranking of how well they perform against the rest of England with North Somerset ranking at number 1. In comparison to 2022, many local authorities have managed to maintain or greatly improve their rankings with Bristol as an example showing a vast improvement from Rank 35 to Rank 9. Despite this, some rankings have dropped, highlighting the ongoing need for consistent engagement and an improved approach to online safety.
Filtering and Monitoring
Encouragingly, there has been considerable strengths across England, with ‘the vast majority of schools having effective policy in place and in a lot of cases, strong technical interventions.’ Filtering and monitoring have also been highlighted as a particular strength across the year but despite this, it is important to note that with the current focus on filtering and monitoring, catalysed by the new filtering and monitoring standards, we anticipate this rating score to change over the next year. With these new changes, schools are now expected to be reviewing their filtering and monitoring provision as well as checking the effective operation of their filtering and monitoring systems. We also remind professionals to educate themselves on these new changes through our free webinars.
David Wright (CEO of SWGfL) said:
This annual report illustrates the current online safety landscape. Although many strengths are being seen, it is disappointing that schools are once again, still not training their staff effectively. Online safety practice is strengthened through knowledge. We must equip staff with the right tools to effectively protect the young people in their care. This is a statutory requirement that over a third of schools in England are currently not addressing - more needs to be done.
360Safe was launched by SWGfL in November 2009 to allow schools to evaluate their own online safety provision; benchmark that provision against others; identify and prioritise areas for improvement and find advice and support to move forward. There are now versions of the tool for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales along with tools for specific early years and group settings. Multi-Academy Trusts can also access their own version of 360Safe.
Online Safety Training
Data highlights the distinct need for improved online safety training within schools and colleges and if you are looking to address this for the new school year, you can find a range of options from SWGfL that can be tailored to your needs. As part of the UK Safer Internet Centre, SWGfL also run the free Online Safety Live events that are available for any professional who works with children and young people.