UK Schools Online Safety Policy and Practice Assessment 2016

Annual Analysis of 360 degree safe self-review data

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Executive Summary

This analysis of data from the 360 degree safe tool draws from the self-review data of over 8000 schools across the country to consider the “state of the nation” related to online safety policy and practice. This sixth annual analysis shows, in general, an improving picture compared to previous years, with the data demonstrating increases in performance against 28 aspects related to online safety in schools. Similarly to previous years, strengths lie in policy and technical infrastructure, and weakness around training, evaluation and community engagement:

Areas of strength are:

  • effective connectivity and filtering in place (Almost 65% of schools have excellent or good connectivity and filtering in place);
  • the scope of online safety covered in school policies (Almost 70% of schools have strong online safety policies in place);
  • effective Acceptable Usage Agreements in place (Almost 55% have a detailed and effective Acceptable Usage Agreement in place);
  • policy addressing issues around digital images and video;
  • effective online safety policy in place (Only 15% of schools have nothing in practice around policy development).

Areas of weaker practice are:

  • effective engagement with the wider school community on issues related to online safety (almost 60% of schools have no engagement with the community on online safety issues);
  • the evaluation mechanisms in place to measure the impact of online safety policy and practice in schools (over 50% of schools have no means to evaluate the impact of their online safety strategy);
  •  the effectiveness of training for school governors related to online safety (55% have carried out no governor training around online safety issues);
  • the effectiveness of training for staff on matters related to online safety (Almost 50% have no staff training to date around online safety); 
  • Almost 35% have no data protection policy in place, even though they are legally responsible for secure storage and management of sensitive personal data about children and young people

Areas of technical security (Technical Security, Filtering and Monitoring, Password Security) are stronger in secondary schools than Primary schools. Password security varies considerably between Secondary and Primary schools and whilst this might be expected, given the generally lesser technical resource available in primary schools, passwords are a critical component in managing sensitive data and device access.

The starting point for newly registered schools is weaker than early adopters of the tool when the profiles of those schools registered in 2016 are compared with the overall averages across all aspects.

Over 50% of both primary and secondary schools have reported there is no governor training around online safety.

The data suggests that data protection compliance is emerging as an issue for at least 1 in 3 schools.

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