New Guidance Released to Support Schools with Online Reputational Concerns

New Guidance Released to Support Schools with Online Reputational Concerns

The Professionals Online Safety Helpline (operated by SWGfL, delivered by the UK Safer Internet Centre) has released new guidance to support schools with online reputational concerns. 

The latest guidance has been published after recent data found that 46% of contacts to the helpline involved concerns around online reputational issues.  

Online Reputation 

Since 2020, there has been a significant rise in teachers and professionals contacting the helpline with concerns around online defamation, with the helpline documenting a rise from 28% of cases in 2020 to 46% in 2023. These concerns, which are predominantly affecting teachers in secondary schools, involve the reputation of professionals or institutions being damaged online. 

The helpline has found that online reputational issues can escalate to involve further concerning behaviour online, such as simultaneously developing into hate speech or impersonation concerns. Common queries involve: 

  • Fake/impersonation accounts purporting to be the school or school staff 

  • School community groups not managed by the school 

  • Reviews on dedicated sites or Google 

  • Negative discourse about the school online 

  • Local/national news outlets covering stories about the school and/or teachers 

  • Allegations of misconduct or abuse 

New Guidance for Schools

The newly published guidance issued by the Professionals Online Safety Helpline intends to support school leaders, governors, federations, and trust leaders within schools in England. The guidance helps schools to navigate online reputational issues whilst giving a better understanding of what resources they have available to help manage these situations. 

The guidance includes information on: 

  • Responding to online posts 

  • Online reputational issues that can be successfully reported 

  • Other routes to resolution 

  • Support available 

The guidance considers multiple scenarios involving reputational concerns, including dealing with negative online reviews, online community groups and how to address concerns around images published outside of the school.   

Educators can also find advice and information on reputational issues that can be successfully reported to social media platforms, such as trademark violations and accounts involving impersonation attempts. Further guidance can be found on the Professionals Online Safety Helpline’s website, including a guide on how to report an impersonation attempt on social media platforms. 

Advice on how to resolve online reputational issues with young people and members of the community is included within the guidance, exploring opportunities to use mediation and education to help resolve situations online. Alongside this, information on the impact that online reputational issues can have on staff members health and wellbeing are explained, with information about the support available through the Professionals Online Safety Helpline. Any educator requiring emotional support can access the Education Support Helpline for free and confidential support. 

Download the Online Reputation Guidance 

Further Information 

Alongside the latest guidance, the Professionals Online Safety Helpline provides a series of resources to support educators or professionals working with young people. Recent resources include support around sexual harassment, making reports to social media platforms, how to handle impersonation attempts, and what to do following an incident of sexting. 

Any professional working with young people can get support with their online safety concerns by contacting the Professionals Online Safety Helpline. The Helpline can be contacted by emailing or by calling 0344 381 4772. 

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