Three Year 7 students are pictured looking closely at a model of our solar system and pointing to it during a Science lab class.

Dear Parents/Carers,

As an academy we have always worked with software providers to indicate when a device account may be being used in an unsafe manner, such as by conducting inappropriate internet searches or document creation.

With the ever-changing landscape of technology, our practice must be kept up to date as it is a key part of our safeguarding duty. We are now pleased to announce that we are further developing this important protective layer for our students and staff.

We are working in partnership with Smoothwall to ensure that all Academy accounts and devices, whether being used inside or outside of the Academy, are appropriately monitored. Smoothwall is a real-time, digital monitoring solution that flags incidents as they happen. Smoothwall monitors both keystrokes and screen views. Safeguarding staff are then informed, in a timely manner, through a variety of means, when users try to view, or type in, any content that could be harmful.

This is a safeguarding–led, remote monitoring arrangement aimed at protecting all users from the risks that can come from using the internet, particularly those students who may be at risk of wellbeing or safeguarding concerns. Individual data from student accounts is never seen in its entirety, but identified risk words and phrases are reviewed and risk assessed by Smoothwall and passed onto the Academy Safeguarding Team if they meet set thresholds of concern or risk. This is an important strengthening of our safeguarding arrangements to protect our students as we increasingly operate in electronic forums as part of our wider digital strategy.

Should a threshold be met, the Safeguarding Team will review the content that has been highlighted. They will consider if there is a need to further educate students, undertake individual discussions, set sanctions or provide any further support that is required. If appropriate, parents/carers will be contacted as part of our ongoing collaborative work to support our students.

Technology is an amazing resource that enables children and young people to learn, communicate and be creative in a number of different ways, on a range of devices and forums. We know that students’ learning is undoubtedly enhanced through their Chromebook device, whether in lessons or during homework tasks. These devices are on loan to students, and appropriate use of them is part of the signed agreement with families that was made when your child’s device was collected from the Academy. These devices should only be used by the student they have been assigned to and should only be used to support their learning. Nonetheless, we know that the internet is always changing, and being able to keep up to date with your children’s use of technology can be a challenge.

You may sometimes feel that your child has better technical skills than you do; children and young people still need advice and protection when it comes to managing their lives online. Issues that your child may encounter on the internet will vary depending on their age and online activities. As part of our Values and IT Curriculum, all students at the Academy receive age-appropriate advice on online safety, and how to use technology and digital platforms responsibly and securely. If your child does have their own additional technological device, outside of their Chromebook provided by the Academy, Privacy settings online may also allow you to customise the information that your child is able to access. If you have concerns that your child is, or has been, the subject of inappropriate sexual contact or approached by another person, it is vital that you report it to the police via the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

The Smoothwall system will go live following a series of student briefings to the new software that will take place in assemblies the week before.

If you have any concerns about your child’s experiences online or in school, please contact your child’s small school in the first instance and we will work with you to address these. Further information regarding the Designated Safeguarding Team can be found on the Academy website in the Safeguarding section.

Thank you for your continued understanding and support,

Yours faithfully,

Ben Russell
Interim Principal

Karen Cronin
Designated Safeguarding Lead