Notley High School & Braintree Sixth Form, located in Essex, is dedicated to providing an environment where students can explore the opportunities afforded by the online world, while ensuring e-safety. A group of students from the school, specially trained by Childline to provide mentoring and support to fellow students, are members of the CHIPS (Childline in Partnership with Schools) scheme. In 2012, Impero partnered with the school and have worked with these students to improve its e-safety functionality, providing vivid insight into the terms and phrases used by young people to bully online.
Notley High School & Braintree Sixth Form have used Impero Education Pro since 2010 to address its network management needs. The school places great emphasis on e-safety provisions, providing students with regular input on e-safety in assemblies, ICT lessons and PDT (Personal Development Time) lessons. Previously, Securus was implemented alongside the SHARP system, an anonymous reporting tool for students, to support the school’s e-safety policies, however this proved troublesome to manage in terms of tracking activity and managing e-safety issues. As the school strived towards a shared approach to managing e-safety, in line with Ofsted guidelines, the need for simple and proactive e-safety software became increasingly paramount.
Eager to address these issues, Notley High School’s Deputy Head and Network Manager were contacted by Impero’s e-safety specialist to discuss the school’s e-safety requirements. Offering a suite of classroom management and e-safety features, Impero Education Pro would allow teachers to monitor on-screen activity remotely in real-time, enabling behavioural issues or potential risk to be dealt with proactively. A complete log of all activity, including violation data captures, would also allow staff to trace and follow-up incidents effectively. Keyword detection would identify words and phrases typed anywhere on the network that could indicate a student at risk, with an accompanying definition helping staff to put the incident into context. Impero’s Confide system, an anonymous reporting tool for students to voice concerns, would also provide students with the opportunity to raise issues without the need for face-to-face interaction, which can be difficult for some young people.
As an Impero beta customer, providing feedback on new software version releases, the school already had Education Pro in place to facilitate its network management needs. When the latest version featuring the improved e-safety functionality became available, Impero’s e-safety specialist worked with the school to ensure that the software was implemented effectively in conjunction with the school’s existing e-safety strategy. It was at this point that the school formed a partnership with Impero, using the experience of the CHIPS-trained students to help inform the cyberbullying keyword detection library available in Education Pro. This research revealed that there is great ambiguity in some of the terms used to bully online and the importance of context.
Since implementing Impero Education Pro, the school has realised a variety of benefits including:
reduces risk – real-time monitoring, keyword abuse libraries and violation alerts enable the school to monitor for e-safety risks, while providing access to useful learning resources.
improves behaviour – live thumbnail view enables teaching staff to monitor for inappropriate use of technology in real-time, helping to reduce the number of incidents.
educates staff and students – sessions and assemblies focused on e-safety, which is considered a key part of the curriculum for the school, educates both staff and students on the importance of e-safety. Impero’s keyword library and monitoring helps to identify trends, which are used to inform the topic of these sessions.
Q&A with Rachel Kelly, Deputy Headteacher & Senior Designated Person for Child Protection
how has Impero helped to identify e-safety or child protection issues in your school?
The Confide system is so valuable to both staff and students. Although we have a very open culture within the school, where students do feel they can talk to staff about issues of concern, the Confide system has provided that extra method of disclosure for students to report issues about themselves or their peers. Often, malicious activity happens outside of the school network, on social media sites for example, and this affects the wellbeing of students inside the school too. Confide allows our students to alert us to these incidents so that we can provide the appropriate support. All staff have the ability to track and investigate violation data captures and this helps us to identify students misusing their access or those at risk. We’ve also had some self-harm issues at the school recently and the self-harm keyword library has undeniably helped us to identify this and provide the relevant support. It would be feasible to use Impero to evidence inappropriate behaviour to the police when necessary.
how does Impero fit into your wider e-safety strategy?
We favour a managed approach to the digital world, rather than locked-down, and Impero enables us to provide access, with the ability to monitor carefully and intervene where necessary. Due to our managed approach to online access, we do issue punishments to those students found to be abusing their access privileges, and Impero enables us to enforce these sanctions automatically. Impero has also helped to inform our practice; we’ve used keyword detection and Confide to identify any emerging patterns of risk or concerning behaviour, so that we can remain both proactive and reactive. Interestingly, we also use the software’s logviewer to determine the perpetrator of physical damage to machines, by establishing who was logged-on to the machine at the time of the incident.
what are the next steps?
I’ve recently undergone WRAP (Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent) training, so I’m looking forward to working with Impero further on developing new radicalisation libraries. We’re also excited about the e-safety functionality that will become available with the Education Pro iOS functionality, which will help us further in our duty of care to keep students safe.
how would you sum up Impero?
It’s simple to use – anyone can use it, and anyone can use it effectively.