GDST Online Safety Policy

This policy applies to the whole school, including the Early Years Foundation Stage

  • Policy Introduction and Aims

The internet and associated devices, such as computers, tablets, mobile phones and games consoles, are an important part of everyday life. However, these modern technologies have created a landscape of challenges and dangers that is still constantly changing. In order to ensure that the school provides a safe environment for learning, we adhere to the following principles:

  • Online safety is an essential part of safeguarding and the school has a duty to ensure that all pupils and staff are protected from potential harm online
  • Online safety education is an important preparation for life. Pupils should be empowered to build resilience and to develop strategies to prevent, manage and respond to risk online

The purpose of the online safety policy is to:

  • Safeguard and protect all members of the school’s community online
  • Identify approaches to educate and raise awareness of online safety throughout the community
  • Enable all staff to work safely and responsibly, to model positive behaviour online and to manage professional standards and practice when using technology
  • Identify clear procedures to use when responding to online safety concerns.

The issues classified within online safety are considerable, but can be broadly categorised into four areas of risk:

  • Content: being exposed to illegal, inappropriate or harmful material; for example pornography, racist or radical and extremist views, and in some respects fake news
  • Conduct: personal online behaviour that increases the likelihood of, or causes, harm; for example making, sending and receiving explicit images, or online bullying

· Contact: being subjected to harmful online interaction with other users; for example children can be contacted by bullies or people who groom or seek to abuse them
· Commercial exploitation: for example young people can be unaware of hidden costs and advertising in apps, games and website

  • Policy Scope

This policy applies to all staff including teachers, support staff, external contractors, visitors, volunteers and other individuals who work for, or provide services on behalf of the school (collectively referred to as ‘staff‘ in this policy) as well as pupils and parents/carers. It applies to the whole school including the Early Years Foundation Stage. It applies to access to school systems, the internet and the use of technology, using devices provided by the school or personal devices.

The policy also applies to online safety behaviour such as cyber-bullying, which may take place outside the school, but is linked to membership of the school. The school will deal with such behaviour within this policy and associated behaviour and discipline policies, and will, where known, inform parents/carers of incidents of inappropriate online behaviour that take place out of school.

  • Links with other policies and practices

This policy links with a number of other policies, including:

  • The GDST Information Security Policy
  • The GDST Data Protection Policy
  • The school’s Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy
  • The GDST Safeguarding Procedures (which incorporates the staff Code of Conduct)
  • Acceptable Use Agreements (AUAs) for staff and pupils
  • GDST Social Media Policy
  • The school’s Behaviour and Discipline Policy
  • The Anti-Bullying Policy
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Mrs Reed is the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) responsible for online safety
  • All members of the community have important roles and responsibilities to play with regard to online safety:

The Head:

  • Has overall responsibility for online safety provision
  • Ensures that online safety is viewed as a safeguarding issue and that practice is in line with GDST and national recommendations and requirements
  • Ensures the school follows GDST policies and practices regarding online safety (including the Acceptable Use Agreements), information security and data protection
  • Ensures that online safety is embedded within the whole school curriculum, which enables all pupils to develop an age-appropriate understanding of online safety
  • Supports the DSL by ensuring they have sufficient training, time, support and resources to fulfil their responsibilities
  • Ensures that all staff receive regular, up to date and appropriate online safety training
  • Is aware of what to do in the event of a serious online safety incident, and will ensure that there are robust reporting channels for online safety concerns, including internal, GDST and national support
  • Receives regular reports from the DSL on online safety
  • Ensures that online safety practice is audited and evaluated regularly in order to identify strengths and areas for improvement.

The Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL):

  • Takes day to day responsibility for online safety
  • Promotes an awareness of and commitment to online safety throughout the school community
  • Acts as the named point of contact on all online safety issues, and liaises with other members of staff or other agencies, as appropriate
  • Keeps the online safety component of the curriculum under review, in order to ensure that it remains up to date and relevant to pupils
  • Facilitates training and advice for all staff, keeping colleagues informed of current research, legislation and trends regarding online safety and communicating this to the school community, as appropriate
  • Ensures that all staff are aware of the procedures that need to be followed in the event of an online safety incident
  • Reviews the internet monitoring report at least monthly, taking action where required
  • Maintains the online safety incident log and record of actions taken, and reviews the log periodically to identify gaps and trends
  • Reports regularly to the Head and SLT on the incident log, internet monitoring report, current issues, developments in legislation etc.

Staff managing the technical environment:

  • Apply appropriate technical and procedural controls to ensure that the school’s IT infrastructure/system is secure and not open to misuse or malicious attack, whilst allowing learning opportunities to be maximised
  • Keep up to date with the school’s online safety policy and technical information in order to carry out their online safety role effectively and to inform and update others as relevant
  • Provide technical support to the DSL and leadership team in the implementation of online safety procedures
  • Ensure that the school’s filtering policy is applied and updated on a regular basis, and the monitoring report is run and passed to the DSL on a monthly basis (as a minimum)
  • Report any filtering breaches or other online safety issues to the DSL, Head, GDST and other bodies, as appropriate
  • Ensure that any safeguarding concerns are reported to the DSL, in accordance with the school’s safeguarding procedures.

All school staff:

  • Read, adhere to and help promote the online safety policy, Acceptable Use Agreements and other relevant school policies and guidance
  • Take responsibility for the security of school systems and the data they use, or have access to
  • Model safe, responsible and professional behaviours in their own use of technology
  • Embed online safety in their teaching and other school activities
  • Supervise, guide and monitor pupils carefully when engaged in activities involving online technology (including extra-curricular and extended school activities if relevant)
  • Have an up to date awareness of a range of online safety issues and how they may be experienced by the children in their care
  • Identify online safety concerns and take appropriate action by reporting to the DSL
  • Know when and how to escalate online safety issues
  • Take personal responsibility for professional development in this area.

Pupils (at a level that is appropriate to their individual age, ability and vulnerabilities):

  • Engage in age appropriate online safety education opportunities
  • Read and adhere to the school Acceptable Use Agreements
  • Respect the feelings and rights of others both on and offline, in and out of school
  • Take responsibility for keeping themselves and others safe online
  • Report to a trusted adult, if there is a concern online.

Parents and carers:

  • Read the school Acceptable Use Agreements and encourage their children to adhere to them
  • Support the school in online safety approaches by discussing online safety issues with their children and reinforcing appropriate, safe online behaviours at home
  • Model safe and appropriate use of technology and social media
  • Identify changes in behaviour that could indicate that their child is at risk of harm online
  • Seek help and support from the school, or other appropriate agencies, if they or their child encounter risk or concerns online
  • Use school systems, such as learning platforms, and other network resources, safely and appropriately
  • Take responsibility for their own awareness in relation to the risks and opportunities posed by new and emerging technologies.

External groups:

  • Any external individual/organisation must sign an Acceptable Use Agreement prior to being given individual access to the school network.
  • Education and Engagement

Education and engagement with pupils

The school curriculum includes age-appropriate lessons and activities on online safety for all pupils, intended to raise awareness, build resilience and promote safe and responsible internet use by:

  • Ensuring education regarding safe and responsible use precedes internet access
  • Including online safety across the curriculum, including the Personal Social and Health Education, Relationships and Sex Education and Computing programmes of study, covering use both at school and home
  • Reinforcing online safety messages whenever technology or the internet is in use
  • Ensuring that the needs of pupils considered to be more vulnerable online, such as those with SEND or mental health needs, are met appropriately
  • Using support, such as peer education approaches and external visitors, to complement online safety education in the curriculum
  • Educating pupils in the effective use of the internet to research; including the skills of knowledge location, retrieval and evaluation
  • Teaching pupils to be critically aware of the materials they read and shown how to validate information before accepting its accuracy
  • Teaching pupils to acknowledge the source of information used and to respect copyright when using material accessed on the internet
  • Supporting students in building resilience to radicalisation by providing a safe environment for debating controversial issues and helping them to understand how they can influence and participate in decision-making

The school will support pupils to read and understand the Acceptable Use Agreement in a way which suits their age and ability by:

  • Discussing the AUA and its implications when it is introduced, and reinforcing the principles via display, classroom discussion etc.
  • Informing pupils that network and internet use will be monitored for safety and security purposes and in accordance with legislation
  • Recognising positive use of technology by pupils.

Training and engagement with staff

The school will:

  • Provide and discuss the Online Safety Policy and staff Acceptable Use Agreement with all members of staff as part of induction
  • Provide up-to-date and appropriate online safety training for all staff on a regular basis, with at least annual updates
  • Make staff aware that school systems are monitored and activity can be traced to individual users; staff will be reminded to behave professionally and in accordance with school’s policies when accessing school systems and devices
  • Make staff aware that their online conduct out of school, including personal use of social media, could have an impact on their professional role and reputation within school
  • Highlight useful educational resources and tools which staff should use, according to the age and ability of the pupils
  • Ensure all members of staff are aware of the procedures to follow regarding online safety concerns affecting pupils, colleagues or other members of the school community.

Awareness and engagement with parents and carers

Parents and carers have an essential role to play in enabling children to become safe and responsible users of the internet and associated technologies. The school will build a partnership approach to online safety with parents and carers by:

  • Providing information and guidance on online safety in a variety of formats. This will include offering specific online safety awareness training and highlighting online safety at other events such as parent evenings
  • Drawing parents’ attention to the school online safety policy and expectations in newsletters and on the website
  • Requiring parents to read the pupil Acceptable Use Agreement and discuss its implications with their children.
  • Reducing Online Risks

The internet is a constantly changing environment with new apps, devices, websites and material emerging at a rapid pace. The school will:

  • Regularly review the methods used to identify, assess and minimise online risks
  • Examine emerging technologies for educational benefit and undertake appropriate risk assessments before use in school is permitted
  • Ensure that appropriate filtering and monitoring is in place and take all reasonable precautions to ensure that users can only access appropriate material
  • Ensure, through online safety education and the school AUAs, that pupils know that the school’s expectations regarding safe and appropriate behaviour online apply whether the school’s networks are used or not
  • Safer Use of Technology

Classroom Use

  • The school uses a wide range of technology. This includes access to:
    • Computers, laptops and other digital devices
    • Internet which may include search engines and educational websites
    • Learning platforms
    • Cloud services and storage
    • Email and messaging
    • Games consoles and other games based technologies
    • Digital cameras, web cams and video cameras
    • Virtual reality headsets
  • Supervision of pupils will be appropriate to their age and ability
  • All school-owned devices should be used in accordance with the school’s AUAs and with appropriate safety and security measures in place.
  • Members of staff should always evaluate websites, tools and apps fully before use in the classroom or recommending for use at home
  • The use of internet-derived materials by staff and pupils should comply with copyright law and acknowledge the source of information

Filtering and Monitoring

  • All schools within the GDST are centrally provided with their data connections via a dedicated network. All incoming data are screened by an application that provides real-time filtering and protects both networks and users from internet threats. It prevents a wide range of unwelcome material and malware from being available in schools while at the same time allowing access to material of educational value. The policy determining filtering is managed centrally, with different levels being applied depending on age group
  • The filtering system produces a report which identifies attempts to access sites that may give rise to concern. This report should be run on a monthly basis (as a minimum). Monitoring can also be undertaken on a needs basis. Concerns identified through monitoring will be managed by the DSL depending on the nature of the issue
  • There is also a centrally managed process for scanning email messages between staff and students for inappropriate language and behaviour. If there is an issue the HR department at Trust Office will be alerted and the matter taken up with the school. Email traffic between pupils is not scanned as a matter of course, but if concerns about contacts between pupils are raised, then a record of messages may be retrieved
  • All members of staff are however aware that they cannot rely on filtering and monitoring alone to safeguard pupils: effective classroom management and regular education about safe and responsible use is essential
  • All users are informed that use of school systems is monitored and that all monitoring is in line with data protection, human rights and privacy legislation.

Dealing with Filtering breaches

The school has a clear procedure for reporting filtering breaches:

  • If pupils discover unsuitable sites, they will be required to alert a member of staff immediately
  • The member of staff will report the concern (including the URL of the site if possible) to the DSL
  • The breach will be recorded and escalated as appropriate
  • Any material that the school believes is illegal will be reported immediately to the appropriate agencies, such as Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), the Police or Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP).

Managing Personal Data Online

Personal data will be recorded, processed, transferred and made available online in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations. Full information can be found in the school’s Data Protection Policy.

  • Social Media


  • The term social media includes (but is not limited to): blogs; wikis; social networking sites; forums; bulletin boards; online gaming; apps; video/photo sharing sites; chatrooms and instant messenger
  • All members of the school community are expected to engage in social media in a positive, safe and responsible manner, at all times

Staff Use of Social Media

  • The safe and responsible use of social networking, social media and personal publishing sites is discussed with all members of staff as part of staff induction and is revisited and communicated via regular staff training opportunities
  • Safe and professional behaviour is outlined for all members of staff as part of the staff Code of Conduct, staff Acceptable Use Agreement and Social Media Policy

Pupils’ Personal Use of Social Media

  • Safe and appropriate use of social media will be taught to pupils as part of online safety education, via age-appropriate sites and resources
  • The school is aware that many popular social media sites state that they are not for children under the age of 13. The school will not create accounts specifically for children under this age
  • The school will control pupil access to social media whilst using school-provided devices and systems on site:
    • The use of social media during school hours for personal use is not permitted.
    • Inappropriate or excessive use of social media during school hours or whilst using school devices may result in disciplinary or legal action and/or removal of internet facilities
  • Any concerns regarding pupils’ use of social media, both at home and at school, will be dealt with in accordance with existing school policies. Concerns will also be raised with parents/carers as appropriate, particularly when concerning underage use of social media sites or tools.
  • Use of Personal Devices and Mobile Phones

The school recognises that personal communication through mobile technologies is an accepted part of everyday life for pupils, staff and parents/carers, but technologies need to be used safely and appropriately within school.


  • All use of personal devices and mobile phones will take place in accordance with the law and other appropriate school policies, including, but not limited to: Anti-Bullying, Behaviour and Discipline, and Safeguarding and Child Protection
  • Electronic devices of any kind that are brought onto site are the responsibility of the user at all times. The school accepts no responsibilities for the loss, theft, damage or breach of security of such items on school premises
  • Mobile phones and personal devices are not permitted to be used in specific areas within the school site such as changing rooms, toilets, corridors and the canteen
  • The sending of abusive or inappropriate messages/content via mobile phones or personal devices is forbidden by any member of the community; any breaches will be dealt according to the behaviour policy
  • All members of the community are advised to ensure that their mobile phones and personal devices do not contain any content which may be considered to be offensive, derogatory or would otherwise contravene the school behaviour or Safeguarding and Child Protection policies.

Staff Use of Personal Devices and Mobile Phones

  • Members of staff will ensure that the use of personal phones and devices takes place in accordance with the law, as well as relevant school policy and procedures, such as: Confidentiality, Safeguarding and Child Protection, Data Security and Acceptable Use Agreements.
  • Images of pupils must not be stored on personal devices. Any image taken on personal devices must be transferred to school or GDST systems as soon as reasonably possible and the personal copy permanently removed.
  • The Pre-School, Infant and Junior School follow the guidance of the Junior School Mobile Phone Policy in which it stipulates that no member of staff shall use their personal mobile devices to photograph or record and store images of the pupils. Only devices provided by the school, and used for the purposes of recording learning are used. All personal devices are stored securely away from the classroom and learning environments – in staff lockers or locked in desks.

Pupils’ Use of Personal Devices and Mobile Phones

  • Pupils will be educated regarding the safe and appropriate use of personal devices and mobile phones and will be made aware of boundaries and consequences
  • Pupil’s personal devices and mobile phones are expected to be kept in a secure place, switched off, kept out of sight during lessons and while moving between lessons
  • If a pupil needs to contact his/her parents or carers they will be allowed to use their mobile phone or a school phone, as long as they have permission from a member of school staff
  • Parents are advised to contact their child via the school office during school hours
  • Mobile phones or personal devices will not be used by pupils during lessons or formal school time unless as part of an approved and directed curriculum based activity with consent from a member of staff
  • Mobile phones and personal devices must not be taken into examinations. Pupils found in possession of a mobile phone or personal device during an exam will be reported to the appropriate examining body. This may result in the pupil’s grade in that examination or all examinations being nullified
  • If a pupil breaches the school policy, the phone or device will be confiscated and will be held in a secure place
    • Searches for and of mobile phone or personal devices will only be carried out in accordance with the relevant government guidance[1],
    • Schools are not required to inform parents before a search takes place or to seek consent for a search for a prohibited item, or item which a member of staff reasonably suspects has been or is likely to be used to commit an offence or to cause personal injury or damage to the property of any person
    • Where the person conducting the search finds an electronic device that is prohibited by the school rules or that they reasonably suspect has been, or is likely to be, used to commit an offence or cause personal injury or damage to property, they may examine any data or files on the device where there is a good reason to do so. They may also delete data or files if they think there is a good reason to do so, unless they are going to give the device to the police.
    • If there is a suspicion that material on a pupil’s personal device or mobile phone may be illegal or may provide evidence relating to a criminal offence, the device will be handed over to the police for further investigation
    • The confiscation and searching of a phone or other digital device will normally be carried out in consultation with a senior member of staff.

Visitors’ Use of Personal Devices and Mobile Phones

  • Parents, carers and visitors (including volunteers and contractors) must use their mobile phones and personal devices in accordance with the school’s Acceptable use Agreement and other associated policies, such as Anti-Bullying and Safeguarding and Child Protection policies
  • The school will ensure appropriate signage and information is provided to inform parents, carers and visitors of expectations of use
  • Members of staff are expected to challenge visitors if they have concerns and will always inform the DSL of any breaches of school policy.

Responding to Online Safety Incidents and Concerns

  • All members of the school community will be made aware of the reporting procedure for online safety concerns, including: breaches of filtering, youth produced sexual imagery (sexting), cyberbullying and illegal content
  • All members of the community must respect confidentiality and the need to follow the official school procedures for reporting concerns
  • Incidents will be managed depending on their nature and severity, according to the relevant school policies
  • After any investigations are completed, the school will debrief, identify lessons learnt and implement any changes in policy or practice as required
  • If the school is unsure how to proceed with an incident or concern, the DSL will seek advice from the ITS or Legal Department at Trust Office
  • Where there is suspicion that illegal activity has taken place, the school will contact the Police using 101, or 999 if there is immediate danger or risk of harm
  • If an incident or concern needs to be passed beyond the school community (for example if other local schools are involved or the public may be at risk), the school will speak with the Police and/or the Local Authority first, to ensure that potential investigations are not compromised.
Concerns about Pupils' Welfare

  • The DSL will be informed immediately of any online safety incident that could be considered a safeguarding or child protection concern
  • The DSL will ensure that online safeguarding concerns are escalated and reported to relevant agencies
  • The school will inform parents and carers of any incidents or concerns involving their child, as and when required.

  • Complaints about IT misuse by pupils will be dealt with by a senior member of staff under the relevant policies and procedures and according to the nature of the complaint
  • Any complaint about staff misuse will be referred to the Head
  • Pupils and parents are informed of the school’s complaints procedure.

Monitoring and Review

  • The school will monitor internet use and evaluate online safety mechanisms to ensure that this policy is consistently applied in practice
  • The policy framework will be reviewed by the GDST at least annually, and in response to any new national guidance or legislation, significant developments in the use of technology, emerging threats or incidents that have taken place

  • Useful links and sources of advice

Guidance and resources

National Organisations

[1] See Searching, screening and confiscation: Advice for headteachers, school staff and governing bodies DfE January 2018