Governors and Safeguarding
Is your governing board taking all necessary steps to support safeguarding, prevent data going astray and to safeguard your governors?
The new Common Assessment Framework for Ofsted puts even more emphasis on Safeguarding and you may wish to reevaluate how your governing board operates to ensure that your work minimises risks, safeguards pupils, staff and governors, and protects the reputation of the school. There are several areas to consider and the issues around these are described below.
If governors are using personal or work e-mail accounts this could have implications.
- If governors are using a personal or family e-mail account other members of the household may have access to information that they do not have the rights to view.
- If governors are using a work account this could be being monitored by other staff in the workplace who may be able to view information that they are not entitled to.
- If governors are giving out personal e-mail addresses to parents this could make them vulnerable to inappropriate contact by parents, for example, following a complaint that they have dealt with as a governor.
- Governing boards should be taking all necessary action to ensure that data is protected and is only accessible to those who have a right to view it. Any wider circulation increases the risk of information getting into the public domain. E-mail is not a secure way to transfer information.
To minimise the risks from using e-mail, provide your governors with a professional e-mail address so that their e-mails for your governing board are separated from personal e-mails. Separating your personal and professional communications helps to ensure that communications are dealt with appropriately. If your governors do not have their own school governor e-mail account then Schools IT can arrange for your governors to have one. New technology means it is now easy to manage more than one e-mail account on mobile devices.
Transferring Documents and Data Protection
E-mail is not a secure method of transferring documents and if this is used to transfer documents containing personal or private information this could have implications for the school.
- Schools have been fined as a result of breaches of data protection.
- Personal information about children or staff could end up in the public domain which could result in legal challenges or embarrassment for the school.
- Personal information about children or staff could be released which could impact on their safety or welfare.
- Information that is intercepted could be passed on to the media.
Office365 and OneDrive (when linked to an Office365 user account) is an option. Also Schools’ IT can provide you with a secure governor online area which is set up to meet the needs of your governing board. Our secure governor area gives you communication tools and document storage that can be accessed on any device via the internet. This gives a safe environment for online communication and collaboration within your own school. We theme your site with your own school branding and structure it to meet your own specific requirements. For more information please contact Jo Briscombe on firstname.lastname@example.org
Governor Use of Social Networking
The majority of schools now include reference to social networking in their policies and curriculum and it is now specifically mentioned in the Ofsted framework. Governors should take account of this to model safe practice as they may be seen to be representing the school when communicating online. There are also increasing numbers of cases where parents’ use of social networking is having implications for schools. Governors who are members of the school community may be in touch with parents through social networking sites. This is just a reminder of aspects to take into account.
- If parents start an online discussion that appears to be a complaint or could lead to a complaint about the school, governors should refer this to the headteacher.
- Governors should intervene and ensure that parents know that they should follow official school channels for complaints.
- Ensure that you do not get drawn in to online discussions about school policy, procedures or teachers.
- Make clear where you are giving a personal opinion and not representing the school.
- Ensure that any opinions you express are not in conflict with school values as this could reflect badly on your credibility as a governor or on the school.
- Check the school online safety and acceptable use policies to ensure that you are acting in accordance with them.