In changing times

From Te Hapua School in the North to Halfmoon Bay School down South, New Zealand’s dedicated teachers are adapting, trialing and achieving amazing things.

Here at Netsafe we want to support you however we can.

As New Zealand’s online safety experts we recognise the types of issues schools are facing and we’ve got the resources to help. Whether it’s support for teachersguidance for school leadersresources for students or support for families and whānau, Netsafe has you covered.

Our wide-range of curated education resources are now available to every teacher and school – at no charge. You can contact our education team at education@netsafe.org.nz and our helpline is open seven days a week to support you with any online incidents that arise.

In a rapidly changing online world, we are here to support you.

We are all in this together.

FAQs

While some things have changed and challenged us recently in education, what hasn’t changed is our need to focus on the safety of both students and staff.  As well as collecting together resources to support schools and kura, we thought it would be useful to provide responses to some of the common questions Netsafe has been asked recently.  While some questions were a specific focus during lockdown, all have answers and advice to guide schools as they look ahead.

Which voice conferencing platform is the best to use for learning?

Video conferencing platforms are a great way of connecting with our students and enable us to check in on their wellbeing and learning. Every school and kura is different, so we encourage everyone to work out which one suits their needs best. To help with this, we have pulled together some key tools, advice and information.

Netsafe’s Digital Safety Management Plan steps schools through a process of reviewing each platform being considered, looking closely at the safety aspects of the platform including identifying possible risks and then steps that would be taken to mitigate those.

To Zoom or not to Zoom outlines key things schools need to think about when faced with a number of video conferencing options.

Support for Teachers links to key safety information about some of the more popular platforms.

What does a school need to have in place to support students using school-owned devices?

In a rush to get devices to students to reduce the disruption to learning, it can be easy to overlook some of the online safety aspects which need to be addressed. Netsafe has put together our Student Use of School-owned Devices guidance to help schools and kura as they provide devices for use at home.

What are the key things we need to share with parents, families and whānau about online safety at the moment?

During this period of rapid change, it is really important to be fully transparent with parents, especially around what platforms are being used, why and what steps the school has taken to mitigate any potential risk.  If the school has worked through the Digital Safety Management Plan process, this will be fairly straightforward.

It is also important to share school’s expectations around parental involvement as well as online behavioural expectations for students.  Co-constructing new student use agreements, or reviewing and sharing current ones, is a good way of sharing expectations with families and whānau.

Netsafe’s Resources to support families and whānau is an extensive collection of resources ready to share directly with parents.  The collection includes the Online Safety Parent Toolkit and and online safety information pack for school newsletters and social media communications.

What can I be doing as a teacher to make sure I am as safe as I can be when working remotely?

As a teacher it is easy to focus on the wellbeing and safety online for our students and forget about our own safety.

Netsafe’s Support for Teachers resources offers quick and easy steps educators can take to address their own safety when learning and teaching in online spaces.

Our 14 tips to guide educators implementing remote learning offers more detailed advice and tips to guide personal online safety during this time.

How do we decide which platform or app to use?

There are many platform or app options available to support remote learning, and sometimes it seems an impossible task to work out what’s best.

Netsafe’s Digital Safety Management Plan steps schools through a process of reviewing each platform being considered, looking closely at the safety aspects of the platform including identifying possible risks and then steps that should be taken to mitigate those risks. The DSMP helps schools to weigh up options and make informed choices.

 

As a school what do we need to do to make sure our staff and students are safe online?

The only thing that has changed during this period of remote learning is where that learning is happening, so make sure you lean on your school or kura’s current guidance for staff and students.

Co-constructing new student use agreements, or reviewing and sharing current ones is a good way of making sure students, families and whānau understand school’s expectations around the safe and responsible use of online spaces. If you are reviewing existing documents, make sure you take into account a greater reliability on technology and platforms to enable open communication.

Teachers often focus on the wellbeing and safety online of their students and forget completely about their own. Netsafe’s Support for Teachers resources offers quick and easy steps educators can take when teaching in online spaces. Our 14 tips to guide educators implementing remote learning offers more detailed advice and tips to guide personal online safety during this time.

Our Staff Guidelines for the Safe Use of Digital Technology have been updated to reflect this changing environment and now is a good time to review what guidance your school currently has in place.

As a counsellor, how can I still support students safely when working remotely?

With school closures the move to remote learning will have been a challenging one for students, especially with the increased isolation and heightened anxiety. Being able to access support and counselling services is important.  Moving support to an online forum means those supporting students need to think carefully about how this might now look. Netsafe has collated specific advice and guidance for pastoral teams and counsellors to support this transition, outlining some key considerations.

Do you have any resources I can share easily with the school's families and whānau?

Netsafe’s Resources to support families and whānau is an extensive collection of resources ready to share directly with parents. The collection includes the Online Safety Parent Toolkit and an online safety information pack for school newsletters and social media communications.

 

What should the school do if an incident occurs online when learning is happening remotely?

Given the increase in time spent online, challenges will likely arise. Having a plan in place is important. Don’t create something new, but lean on those processes your school already has in place to deal with online challenges when they occur during face-to-face learning. Netsafe’s Incident Response Guide offers a clear process to work through when responding to online incidents and can be used as it is, or as a reference guide when reviewing current processes.

Do we need to create a new online safety policy to cover distance learning?

Any school’s online safety policies need to be regularly reviewed, and given how the learning landscape has evolved recently, now is probably a very good time to see what your school has in place to make sure it covers remote, distance or blended learning.

Netsafe has updated our online safety policy template for schools to reflect on these changing times and can be downloaded and implemented. However we do encourage schools to customise the document to suit their individual needs.

At school we have filters to help keep our students safe online. What can we suggest for parents who might not have those same protective measures in place?

While filters are only one part of what makes time online safer for our students, they play a very important role when learning happens away from the robust protective systems at place in schools.  Switch on Safety has been provided free of charge by N4L to all students in New Zealand as part of the Ministry of Education’s package to support remote learning.