Responsibilities around filtering and monitoring - KCSIE 2023 update
The latest version of Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) has been published and comes into force on 1 September 2023. The changes made in KCSIE 2023 are mainly clarifications on existing guidance – the key change that jumps out is around the implementation of the DfE's 'Meeting digital and technology standards in schools and colleges' (the filtering and monitoring standards) that was updated in March 2023.
Safeguarding is our number one priority in schools (no news there). It is a key HR issue and something that all trusts and schools need to be aware of. The challenge in embracing changes in KCSIE every year is ensuring that it does not become too cumbersome on the staff to implement, but does enhance our provision of safeguarding. In real time writing this blog, one of our team overhead a colleague in a school commenting "why does the filter block so much stuff?" and that is the ultimate challenge with filtering and monitoring - blocking harmful and inappropriate content without impacting on teaching and learning.
The updated filtering and monitoring standards explain that the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) should take responsibility for online safety as part of their safeguarding responsibilities, and work with IT providers (whether internal or external) so that specialist knowledge in both safeguarding and technological aspects of filtering are being deployed. In this way, your DSL can rationalise the filtering to enhance safeguarding whilst not impacting unnecessarily on teaching and learning, and ensure filtering is informed by the risk assessment required by the Prevent Duty whilst not needing the technical expertise to put the filters in place. Your DSL should also take the lead in monitoring that the filters are effective, again working with IT providers to test filters and ensure inappropriate content is blocked.
Successful compliance will see schools and trusts have an active filtering policy in place that is not necessarily the standard white and black list from your IT provider, but a defined rationale about what, and why, certain terms are filtered off on your network.
KCSIE's emphasis is on the role of governing bodies and proprietors proactively ensuring that appropriate filtering and monitoring systems are in place and that leadership teams and staff are aware of their responsibilities with regards to knowledge of filtering and monitoring systems in place, the management of them and how to escalate any concerns.
From an operational point of view, you need to ensure that your school or trust has:
- Identified and assigned roles and responsibilities
- Trained staff appropriately
- Blocked harmful and inappropriate content without impacting on teaching and learning
- Put in place an effective monitoring process that meets safeguarding needs
- Reviewed filtering and monitoring systems at least annually
- Updated policies and procedures to include information about filtering and monitoring on school networks and devices, and following reviews
The changes to KCSIE for 2023 do not need to be seen as onerous and once your DSL has their processes and procedures for filtering and monitoring in place, school life should continue largely as normal. If you need any help in putting these in place, Keystone can help.
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