43% of primary schools ‘unconfident’ in their approach to online safety, according to poll

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17th July 2019 15:15 - Education

43% of primary schools ‘unconfident’ in their approach to online safety: A poll of 1,158 primary and secondary school staff undertaken by RM Education - in association with the NSPCC - found that when it comes to online safety, 43% of respondents at primary schools and 32% of those at secondary schools, were not confident in their school’s approach.

Half of secondary school (50%) and 42% of primary school respondents said they were ‘somewhat’ confident, while 18% of secondary and 15% of primary school staff said they were ‘very confident’. 

The survey was commissioned to look at the online safety policy and practices of UK maintained schools. Steve Forbes, Senior Product Manager at RM Education said “We wanted to understand how senior leadership teams, designated safety leads and network managers approached the challenge of keeping students and staff safe online.”

When it comes to the involvement of the head teacher in setting out the approach to online safety in schools, the survey revealed primary school heads were more involved than they are at secondary schools (90% to 48%), with responsibility in secondary schools more likely to fall to a deputy or assistant head teacher. 

The survey also found that at secondary school level, a network manager or head of ICT would more likely be tasked with matters of online safety than they would be at a primary school (83% to 58%). 

When it comes to handling and identifying online abuse, the majority of schools said they felt ‘somewhat’ confident (52%) in being able to do so effectively with 37% of respondents reporting they felt ‘very confident’ in this area. Just 5% said they felt ‘not at all confident’ and 6% answered  ‘don’t know/unsure’. 

When asked about how confident respondents feel regarding their understanding of the threat students face when online, 41% of secondary schools said they feel ‘very confident’, whereas the percentage of primary school respondents who felt the same was 23%. The majority of respondents at both primary and secondary said they were ‘somewhat confident’ (39% and 43% respectively), while 38% of primary schools said they were ‘unconfident’, compared to 16% of secondary school respondents. 

Almudena Lara, head of policy at the NSPCC, said: “Social media, sexting and online pornography did not exist a generation ago and this survey underlines how crucial it is that today’s teachers feel equipped to help their pupils navigate healthy relationships in the modern world."

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