Very highly recommended for colleagues with a safeguarding responsibility, the Professionals Online Safety Helpline (POSH) is available to anyone working with children and young people dealing with online safety issues.

Support requests to the helpline are typically from school colleagues although it supports a variety of organisations and professionals including Police colleagues, Children’s Social Care, Sports Clubs, Faith institutions and further education settings.

The Helpline is a free service and also provides signposting, advice and mediation to resolve online safety issues staff may face about themselves, such as protecting professional identity or online harassment in addition to those problems affecting young people such as cyberbullying or sexting issues.

You can access the Professionals Online Safety Helpline via the following link:  POSH Helpline


How should we approach?

Knowing where to start in your organisation can be a challenge when considering Online Safety and may initially seem overwhelming with all the different aspects to consider.  In this respect, it is often useful to break down the subject into discrete areas and our recommended approach is based upon the original and widely-recognised PIES model.

Why do we recommend this approach?

As the Online Safety agenda covers an increasingly broad variety of aspects (e.g. policies, procedures, staff, pupils, infrastructure, learning, governors, social media, numerous risk areas (e.g. Grooming, Sexting, Bullying, Social Media, Gaming…)), by breaking down into 4 discrete (albeit related) objectives often helps to provide colleagues with a useful framework from which to approach.

What are the four objectives?

Based around the PIES model, the four framework objectives are explained below:

1) Safer Management;  2) Safer Access;  3) Safer Learning;  4) Safer Standards

Aim: To ensure the school/college/establishment has robust and effective policies, practices and procedures to safeguard C&YP against online safety risks.

Consider how Online Safety is managed within your setting – whilst not exhaustive, the items below are examples of typical areas to consider under the Safer Management Objective:

  • Responsibilities/Governance – lead person, Governor responsibilities
  • Online Safety Committee/Group – remit, membership, responsibilities/lead person, Pupil/Student engagement
  • Policies, practices and procedures – Online Safety Policy, Acceptable Use/Behaviour Agreements, Codes of Conduct/Professional Standards, Reporting/Escalation, Mobile technologies (School & individually owned)
  • Teaching and Learning – Curriculum development/opportunities, Good practice
  • Social Media / Online communication – School/College > Community Engagement
  • Image/Video management – School policy/guidelines, Parental expectations
  • Related Policies/Requirements (e.g. KCSIE, Safeguarding, National Curriculum, Prevent duty, Inspection)

Tip: The CSAP  ‘Making Sense of…KCSIE’ guidance in the Supporting Resources section provides useful information that will support this aspect.

Aim: To identify and promote technologies, tools and infrastructure services which appropriately support Online Safeguarding priorities for the School/College, C&YP and related stakeholders.

Consider how items such as the establishment’s technical tools and infrastructure can support the approach.  Ensuring the technical and non-technical systems contribute to and complement effective practice is a key component and may include areas such as:

  • Connectivity (Broadband; WiFi; 3G/4G access)
  • System policies (passwords; e-mail;)
  • Staff, Pupil/Student, Visitor Use (usage agreements and requirements/expectations)
  • Data Protection (ICO compliance, data processing, asset management, risk management, cloud services)
  • Content Filtering & Monitoring Systems (Physical/Supervisory, Technical systems/Software-based, Pro-active/Re-active approaches)
  • Technical Security (Anti-virus & malware protection, backups & recovery, network resilience, physical security, network security, remote access)
  • Out-of-School supporting tools (Home broadband safety tools, 3G/4G/5G mobile provider facilities, ‘Friendly WiFi’ Scheme)

Aim: To promote and identify effective learning opportunities available to all stakeholders which recognise and address current and emerging Online Safeguarding risks for C&YP.

Consider learning opportunities for all stakeholders (e.g. Pupils/Students, Staff, Governors, Parents/Carers and the wider Community) to raise awareness of potential risks and how to report and manage them.  Areas to consider include:

  • Pupil/Student education
  • Curriculum delivery (discrete and cross-curricular)
  • Risk Areas (CSE, Bullying, Radicalisation/Extremism, Social Media, Inappropriate Content, Healthy Relationships, Online Gaming)
  • Resources (Core resources, Risk-specific)
  • Digital Literacy (Understanding risks, building resilience)
  • C&YP engagement (Pupil/Student concerns, informing delivery)
  • Staff training (discrete formal training, update arrangements)
  • Safeguarding integration
  • Governor education
  • Parental engagement
  • Community liaison
  • Reporting mechanisms

Aim: To promote and ensure appropriate monitoring and review practices are in place which ensure Online Safeguarding systems and procedures are effective and regularly audited.

This aspect closely links with each of the other objectives – consider how Online Safety is audited and reviewed within your setting.  Whilst not exhaustive, the items below are examples of typical areas to include under the Safer Standards Objective:

  • Monitoring and recording incidents
  • Incident reviews
  • Learning events/progression
  • Impact assessment (Policy, Practice and Procedures)
  • Information sharing and evaluation
  • Embedding good practice
  • Evidencing progression and actions

An excellent and highly-recommended resource to support addressing Online Safety is the award-winning 360 Safe Self Review Tool intended to help schools review their online safety policy and practice.  For non-school colleagues, 360 Groups takes a similar approach, guiding you through reviewing your online safety policies and practice, suggesting improvement actions and pointing to good practice resources.  Both self-review resources are freely-available and can be found in our Supporting Resources section.

Further frequently asked questions about addressing online safety are available in the FAQ section found at the bottom of the main Online Safeguarding section of the site.