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THE DEDICATED EDUCATION MAGAZINE FOR HEAD TEACHERS AND EDUCATORS ACROSS THE UK

Safeguarding Education: Navigating Regulations for Online Safety in Schools

In the UK, there are several regulations and guidelines that specifically impact the educational sector in relation to online safety.

In this article, we delve into the major regulations impacting schools and colleges across the UK, with a focus on internet use.

Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE)

A cornerstone in the sphere of safeguarding education is the Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) guidance, updated and enforced since September 2023. This guidance, produced by the Department of Education, sets out the legal duties and responsibilities of schools and colleges concerning the welfare of children and young people.

A key facet of KCSIE is its comprehensive coverage of online safety, categorizing web-related risks into four areas [p. 35-36]: content, contact, conduct, and commerce. These 4Cs cover the potential dangers students face in the online sphere, from exposure to inappropriate content, such as pornography and extremist propaganda, to the risks associated with peer pressure and criminal exploitation.

General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and Data Protection Act (DPA)

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) remains in domestic law as the UK GDPR. Operating in tandem with the Data Protection Act (DPA), these regulations apply to all organizations, including schools and colleges, handling personal data.  Ensuring the security of personal data, the regulations mandate appropriate technical and organizational measures to guard against unauthorized processing, loss, destruction, or damage. The UK GDPR and the DPA do not specifically list the technical security measures you must use. Instead, it asks for a level of security that makes sense for the potential risks involved in how you handle data.

Compliance with these regulations necessitates a thoughtful approach to data security. While the UK GDPR and the DPA do not prescribe specific technical security measures, they demand a level of security commensurate with the potential risks. Educational institutions must consider the profound consequences that poor data security can have, ranging from identity theft to financial loss and fraudulent activity.

Tom Hall – SafeDNS Inbound Sales Executive

Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015

Additionally, the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 places a duty (p.9) on schools to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.” This includes online radicalization and the promotion of extremist ideologies. Schools are expected to pay particular attention to online activities and to provide internet safety education to students.

Technological Solutions for Compliance

To comply with the regulations listed above educational organizations have to find and apply the right technological solutions. In this case, cloud web filtering can become the first line of protection. This type of solution helps organizations restrict access to potentially dangerous, malicious resources that can somehow compromise the data they store and prevent children from encountering any kind of inappropriate, harmful, or explicit content. Besides, it does not require hardware infrastructure, which makes the solution preferable.

To ensure the protection of personal information and comply with the regulations listed above, educational organizations must adopt suitable technological solutions. Cloud web filtering emerges as a first line of defense since it enables institutions to restrict access to potentially harmful and malicious resources (which can compromise the data organizations store) and prevents children from encountering any kind of inappropriate content with no need for extensive hardware infrastructure. Cloud web filtering, exemplified by solutions like SafeDNS, acts as a shield, safeguarding data integrity and preventing exposure to inappropriate content.

When selecting a web filtering solution, institutions should carefully assess key features. The chosen product must align with relevant rules and regulations, offer a comprehensive range of categories for blocking, and ensure regular updates to the web filtering database. Additionally, the effectiveness of customer support and user reviews should be considered in your decision-making process.

A focus on education is essential in keeping children safe online, ensuring that electronic communication remains secure, and providing a foundation for responsible online activities and social media engagement. Stay informed and advocate for robust internet safety measures to protect students and promote a secure learning environment. 

By Tom Hall – SafeDNS Expert

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