What are the rules for students using school ICT equipment or their own personal equipment at school?
Most UK schools have computer networks and other technologies for the use of the whole school community - to encourage ICT skills, social skills and literacy skills. In fact, according to a survey by the National Literacy Trust in 2009, young people regularly enjoy writing on technology-based platforms, such as blogs, texts and social networking websites.
Students might also take their own devices, such as their mobile or MP3 player, to school.
It's therefore crucial that your school provides clear guidelines about the acceptable use of school equipment (such as PCs, webcams, digital cameras and mobiles and devices owned by students and employees (such as mobiles, personal laptops, PDAs and MP3 players that might be brought into school.
"The first challenge in creating a safe ICT learning environment is to ensure that everyone is aware of the issues and how they impact upon the particular school environment and the pupils within that school... an infrastructure of effective policies and procedures is the backbone to effective practice." (Source: Becta)
This should be done through an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), developed in collaboration with key stakeholders such as governors and the Local Education Authority (LEA).
Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)
As recommended by Becta, your school's AUP must cover areas including:
- The types of activities to be conducted on school computers by students, including the use of personal and school email addresses and the types of websites they can access
- How email and Web content will be filtered and monitored on school computers
- How to deal with incidents of technology misuse, such as cyberbullying or accessing inappropriate content
- Whether mobiles can be brought into school and, if they are allowed, when they should be switched off
- The security of school equipment, including passwords and data storage
- Considerations when taking digital photos of students and publishing them online
The AUP should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis, communicated to all employees and students (including new joiners), and might even be used as the basis of a contract that students, parents and employees sign.
Where can I find out more?
- Read your school's Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) and speak to the manager in charge of it, the e-safety co-ordinator or your technical support staff about the rules for using school and personal ICT equipment.
- If you want more information about Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs), including how to develop a robust policy for your school, read Becta’s ‘AUPs in Context’ report.
- If your school doesn't have an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), check with your local authority as they might have an AUP template you can use - just remember to tailor it to the specific needs of your school.
- Visit the Impact on Schools section of Teachtoday for further information.