The UK Safer Internet Centre (UKSIC), has published the latest appropriate filtering and monitoring definitions for 2023, following a public consultation earlier this year.
In March 2023, the Department for Education released new Filtering and Monitoring standards, and these latest UKSIC definitions will help to support schools, colleges and providers to understand what is considered ‘appropriate’ filtering and monitoring.
In this article, we’re exploring the latest guidance from the UK Safer Internet Centre.
The 2023 filtering definitions emphasise the importance of ensuring that good teaching, learning practice and effective supervision are used to support filtering systems, and that filtering systems should be one of many tools used to support and inform the broader safeguarding provisions in place within schools, as they cannot be 100% effective.
The new definitions also emphasise the importance of making sure that filtering systems are appropriately blocking illegal online content and filtering inappropriate online content. Additionally, the latest guidance explains the principles that filtering systems should meet, and the necessary checks and documentation to ensure that filtering and monitoring systems are effectively applied to all devices.
Similarly, the latest monitoring definitions recognise that no monitoring can guarantee to be 100% effective, and lists the content that schools should be satisfied their monitoring strategy covers.
Alongside this, the definitions help to advise on a variety of different monitoring systems and strategies, and the circumstances they are most suited to. The definitions highlight how a monitoring strategy should integrate with school policies, and the importance for schools to undertake online safety risk assessments, whilst regularly checking the effectiveness of their monitoring systems.
To support schools and colleges to achieve the appropriate filtering standards, SWGfL provide Test Filtering, a free online utility that safely tests whether your internet connection is blocking harmful or illegal content. You can access Test Filtering to check your schools internet connection at http://testfiltering.com/.
Alongside this, the Assisted Monitoring Service can support schools to monitor students’ behaviour online, with the service being in place to alert schools and colleges to any serious concerns and content violations. Find out more about Assisted Monitoring here.
To assist schools with implementing online safety practice, SWGfL provides 360safe, a free online safety self-review tool to help schools review their online safety policy and practice. The tool allows schools and multi-academy trusts in England, Scotland and Wales to identify and improve their online safety provision across a number of areas.
To learn more about the latest filtering and monitoring definitions from the UK Safer Internet Centre and to download their guidance, please visit their website.