Pupils - the digital natives are increasingly being exposed to technology with, nearly 3-in-4 teens owning a smartphone. Technology is deeply embedded into their daily lives, and when it comes to school there’s no change, technology is at the forefront of modern learning, with the rapid increase of ‘iPad schools’ and BYOD.
This increased exposure to technology uncovers many opportunities for pupils. Computer science now being part of the curriculum, is a great example of technology has transformed teaching methods. However, with these opportunities comes great risks. Young people now have access to an unlimited amount of information, and although are confident using technology, generation X and Y can lack the understanding and knowledge needed to keep them safe online.
A recent report found that 1 in 6 pupils were accessing pornography at school, another highlighted 61% of teachers reported sexting as a concern, with over half of pupils sharing indecent pictures with others. When pupils enter the school grounds teachers need to fulfil their legal duty of care around online safeguarding. Paragraph 67 of the Government’s Keeping Children Safe in Education statutory guidance states that schools should ensure appropriate monitoring and filtering systems are in place to support safeguarding in relation to online safety.
Classroom management software is being widely used across schools in the UK to keep pupils safe. Software like Impero, teams up with UK and international charities such as the Anti-Bullying Alliance, Hey U.G.L.Y, and iKeepSafe, as well as information obtained through focus group work carried out in schools with pupils. These charities and focus groups allow classroom management software companies to stay up to date with the latest trends and slang to ensure that intelligent keywords are formed, which can then be flagged if used in the classroom.
The hardest thing with safeguarding is keeping up to date with pupil’s language and slang says one of Probrand’s Education specialists, recently there has been a trend in young girls especially, called the ‘cotton wool method’ (eating cotton wool to suppress appetite) many basic filters wouldn’t pick this up - even with its severity. This is why schools need to employee intelligent filtering systems that are based on the user’s behaviour, not singular searches. So for example a simple search for ‘laxatives’ won’t trigger an alert. However, pairing that with a search for ‘BMI calculators’ ‘Cotton wool method’ and ‘cabbage soup diet’ by the same user over a period may indicate much more of a concern.