The 3-step e-safety model - respond, follow up, review

You are using the laptops to create a newspaper article on the amazon. One of the students in the class is searching for images of wildlife and the image search returns an image that is graphic in nature. The child tells you immediately.

What do you do next?

We are all faced with strange scenarios on a daily basis – that is the joy of working with children. How we react to those situation will often dictate whether there are positive or negative outcomes. The scenario above is just one example of a regular occurrence in classrooms up and down the country. I am going to share my simple 3 step model which can be shared with all staff to ensure consistency across schools. 

The idea of e-safety has changed quite significantly over the time I have been supporting schools with keeping children safe online. It used to be very much about a policy response. If you had, and followed, the correct policies you would have done your bit. This was a rather na├»ve approach to e-safety, but it was what we had. Now we must foster an e-safety philosophy within schools, as part of a far wider ‘Keeping children safe’ remit which includes a whole host of other things that are far too complex to squeeze in to a short blog post. This is one of the reasons that overall responsibility for e-safety, in my experience, is being moved from the subject co-ordinator to someone on the SLT.

Let’s go back to my original scenario. The child has done the right thing. But what should you staff member do? Follow the 3 step plan.

Step 1 – Immediate response

This response should be almost automatic and staff must know what it should be. We all know what we would do if a child made a child protection disclosure to us, but do staff know the automatic response to this situation? For us the process involves minimising the screen and informing our IT manager immediately. But your school response may be different – it could be that you do not have technical support onsite or that you are using ipads. In reality it does not matter what you do, so long as you remove the current risk, prevent others from witnessing it and report the matter so that you limit the risk in the future. A flowchart works best so that all staff know what to do in your school.

Step 2 – The Follow Up

You have made it to the end of the day, thankfully no-one else decided to google image search for ‘amazon snakes’, you followed your school’s procedures for the immediate response. Now you need to follow this up. We have a simple tick box form that is completed after each e-safety incident and this ensures that the correct people know about the incident – however minor or serious it was. Firstly, it is always best to try to speak to the parents first – before the child does if possible. Then begin planning your follow up with the class – this is the PSHE response. Firstly this class needs to be taught how to search better and will need re-enforcing of the procedures for what to do if something goes wrong. Finally, you need to think about what you can do to mitigate this happening again in the future. Is there something you will do differently next year to avoid the same issue?

Step 3 – The Review

What worked well here? Pat yourself on the back if your process works. If it didn’t then think about where it went wrong – how could you change the process to make it work better?

Quite often, dealing with these ‘in school’ issues is relatively straight forward and in the first scenario there was no question that the pupil did the right thing. Think about how you would deal with the following situation:

A couple of girls in your class are chatting on their way out to break and you overhear that one of them is worried about some messages that she has been receiving from another girl in the class. When you ask the girl if everything is ok, she goes quiet and says everything is fine. 

What do you do next?

Consider the three steps.

Step 1 – Immediate response

This is very similar to a child protection disclosure, treat it in very much the same way. Try to establish the facts and make some brief notes as to what has happened. Because the messages are coming from a girl in the class you are able to deal with this. Should the messages be coming from outside of the school, or from an adult then follow your local safeguarding procedures. 

Step 2 - The Follow Up

You must share the information with parents of all of the children involved. It is not our job to tell parents what they should do when it comes to these issues and nor should it be. However what is important is that we share the facts as we know them. I always find that starting the conversation with, “We have been made aware that Jane has done this, because it happened out of school there is very little we can do in terms of sanctions, but I thought you would like to know.”

The most important follow up is now the PSHE response. What are you going to do in your classroom to try and teach these two girls (and the rest of the class) that this is not acceptable behaviour and that you will do something about it? We use a set of dilemma cards that can be used as starters to lessons or during early morning work that allow the pupils to develop the correct response to a range of situations in the safe environment of the classroom.

Step 3 - The Review

In this case, I would be asking why the girl in question did not feel able to share this problem with a member of staff, is there an opportunity for peer mentoring across the school to help solve this issue? 


Ben Cornford
Thomas A Becket Junior School


computing, Computing and ICT, Switched on Computing

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