GDST Online Safety Policy COVID-19 Annex

Sheffield High School for Girls is committed to providing a safe environment for online learning. This commitment remains the same in the difficult circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak. During the period of Guided Home Learning our expectations of staff and pupils also remain the same, and the principles and practices of the school’s Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy and Online Safety Policy, and the GDST Social Media Policy, Staff Code of Conduct and Acceptable Use Agreements for staff and pupils will continue to apply, both to existing and any new online and distance learning arrangements introduced. Staff and pupils must review these policies and ensure that they adhere to them at all times.

In order to ensure the safety and welfare of children during this period that pupils are engaging in guided home learning, the school will follow the DfE remote learning guidance:

Given the changes in circumstances to everyday teaching and learning practices, the following guidelines will also apply:

Providing a safe system

  • Where the site remains open, the school will continue to ensure that appropriate filters and monitoring systems are in place to protect children when they are online on the school’s IT systems or recommended resources.
  • For the purposes of guided home learning, the primary platforms used across the GDST network are:
    • Microsoft Teams
    • Google Classroom
    • Firefly

The GDST has central oversight of and can monitor activity and communications through these platforms. The platforms are restricted to GDST users only and permissioned accordingly. Other platforms may be used at times for specific purposes. The online safety implications of any platform are carefully considered before use.

  • Some live online sessions are recorded for safeguarding purposes (as set out below). When a recording is made access is restricted to participants and the IT Administrator. Access may be granted to others in the event of a complaint, formal investigation, or legal request (this would be carried out under the standard GDST policies). Further distribution is strictly prohibited. Recordings will be deleted after 12 months.
  • The school and the GDST network both have technical support dedicated to maintaining a safe and operational online environment. Where local IT teams are unavailable, Trust Office staff will provide technical support to schools.
  • The school’s Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) has day to day responsibility for online safety, and will maintain an active oversight of the management of guided home learning from a safeguarding perspective. Procedures will be kept under review and action will be taken swiftly if concerns about the use of technologies arise.
  • The school will keep in regular contact with parents, updating them as appropriate with information on how the school is providing guided home learning, how they can keep their children safe online, and any new developments.

Guided home learning

There is a wide range of formats for guided home learning, including:

  • Posting activities for pupils at regular intervals, with pupils posting responses
  • Providing recorded material in the form of podcasts or video tutorials
  • Directing pupils to web-based resources and activities they can engage with on or offline
  • Interactive/live teaching in real time
Teachers will select the most appropriate format for a lesson depending on a number of factors, including the age of the pupils, size of the group, nature of the activity, and the degree of support required; and taking into account the need to ration screen time and provide a variety of learning experiences within a lesson, across the school day/week and through a scheme of work.

Live online teaching

Live online teaching is an important part of this overall package for pupils of all ages. Interaction with a teacher is an important part of the learning process, and whilst online contact cannot replicate face to face contact, live sessions are particularly helpful as they allow contemporaneous communication, with students able to respond to staff questions – and vice versa. Live contact is an important part of pastoral support, and provides pupils with a direct interface with a familiar trusted figure at a time of significant change and uncertainty. Live classes also give pupils the opportunity to interact with peers and maintain important social connections during a period when they could otherwise become isolated.

However, it should be remembered that live online teaching remains ‘one tool in the box’ and, for the reasons set out above, it should be balanced alongside learning opportunities in a range of other formats.

In order to safeguard both pupils and staff, live online sessions must be conducted following the protocols set out below.

Protocols for staff in relation to guided home learning:

  • Only use school approved platforms; do not use social media in communicating with pupils.
  • Reinforce online safety messages regularly in your teaching.
  • Bear in mind the current circumstances and how they are affecting children and families when setting expectations of pupils.
  • Consider online safety when sharing resources – vet websites and videos/apps/software carefully and bear in mind that the home environment will not have the same content filtering systems as at school. If introducing new apps and resources, ensure these meet GDPR requirements. Contact your line manager/digital leader/network manager for further guidance.
  • If concerned about online safety/resources, check with IT support/digital leader.
  • Ensure that passwords and secure information – such as log-ins for SIMS/CPOMS – are kept confidential.
  • Adhere to copyright and GDPR guidelines.
  • Continue to look out for signs that a child may be at risk – which may differ from typical triggers in a school environment. Report any concerns to the DSL without delay in the usual way.
  • Do not provide pupils or parents with personal contact details – email, home or mobile numbers, details of web-based identities etc.
  • Do not arrange to meet students or ask them to deliver work to your home.
  • Remain professional and objective in all email and other forms of correspondence.

In relation to live online teaching:

  • Keep a record/log of live online lessons – date and time, attendance, what was covered, any incidents. Any serious incidents should be reported in the usual manner depending on the nature of the issue.
  • Maintain professional conduct during live streaming – dress appropriately, consider your surroundings (background, other household members who may come into view, etc.) and blur if necessary, and remember that your microphone may be on.
  • Maintain the same boundaries and insist on the same standard of behaviour as in a school setting. Make specific protocols clear at the outset, e.g. muting of microphones at appropriate times, use of the chat function, etc.
  • 1:1 teaching and guidance are an important part of school provision for some pupils and this should be maintained as far as possible during guided home learning. 1:1 sessions that would have been in place in school in normal circumstances (e.g. pastoral/counselling meetings, SEN support, certain A level subject groups) may continue online, at the Head’s discretion. The Head must be advised in advance of all such arrangements. All 1:1 teaching sessions must be recorded on Microsoft Teams or Google Classroom. Support and pastoral 1:1 sessions should be recorded on Teams or Google Classroom unless the professional judgement of the member of staff is that this would be inappropriate or the pupil is unhappy about a recording being made, in which case it is acceptable for detailed notes to be kept instead. Distribution of the recording beyond participants who have automatic access is strictly prohibited.

Reporting an online issue for staff:

  • Any child protection or safeguarding concern must be reported to the DSL without delay.
  • Concerns about the safety of procedures, behaviours or use of technology should be referred to the DSL.
  • Routine queries about the use of apps or online materials should be addressed to your line manager or IT support depending on the nature of the issue.
  • UKSIC’s Professionals Online Safety Helpline is a good source of external advice.

Protocols for pupils in relation to guided home learning:

  • Always log on through your GDST account and use your GDST email for school business.
  • Do not make recordings, take screenshots/screengrabs or photographs, or store footage of teachers or other pupils.
  • Be aware that some live online sessions may be recorded by the teacher.
  • Dress appropriately for online lessons.
  • Ensure that you have a safe and appropriate place to participate from. Blur your background if necessary.
  • Follow the school rules for conduct during online lessons as if you were in school.
  • Do not undermine in any way the technology used to offer video lessons.
  • If you have concerns about online safety, or if you feel you are being bullied, talk to someone you trust.

Reporting an online issue for pupils:

The role of parents

  • It is the responsibility of parents to ensure that pupils are monitored in their use of technology for guided home learning as they would ordinarily do when their children are using technology at home. Monitoring screen time is particularly important in the current circumstances.
  • While students are working from home they are connected to their home broadband so their traffic doesn’t go through the GDST firewall – parents will therefore need to ensure that age-appropriate filtering or safe search is enabled at home. Information on setting this up can be found at: and here:
  • Communication during online learning is between student and teacher: parents should communicate with school/staff in the usual manner, via school email or telephone during a period of guided home learning.
  • Any parent wishing to supplement the school’s guided home learning with support from online companies or individual tutors should be mindful of the importance of using reputable organisations or individuals who can provide evidence that they are safe and can be trusted to have access to children – further information can be found in the sources of support below.
  • Social media, networking apps and gaming platforms are particularly popular at the moment. Parents are advised to be mindful of age restrictions and to oversee their child’s social media activity.
  • The school will update parents on online safety matters as required. Parents are requested to heed the school’s advice and contact the school if they have concerns or encounter risk online.

Reporting an online issue for parents:

Contact your child’s Class Teacher / Head of Year in the usual way for routine queries about guided home learning.

Sources of support and advice