Time to conduct another Online Safety Mark assessment, and in situ! Today, I was off to Stroud High School (SHS) in Gloucestershire to meet the Head Teacher, Senior Leadership Team, teachers, administrative and technical staff, students, governors and parents/carers, to assess whether they had reached the benchmark standard in all 21 aspects of the 360 degree safe self-review tool and deserved to be awarded an Online Safety Mark once again.
Whilst I have visited the school on numerous occasions in the past, this has never been in the role of an Online Safety Mark Assessor. I received a warm welcome on arrival and was introduced to the Head Teacher, Mr Mark McShane, and members of the Senior Leadership Team. We had a brief discussion about the online safety structures in place within the school, how their policy and practice has developed as a result of engaging with the 360 degree safe self-review tool, as well as confirming arrangements for the day.
We moved into another room so that I could go through their completed review at length with the Assistant Head Teacher and Deputy Safeguarding Lead and Online Safety Lead. I challenged them about a number of points and asked a few further questions, which they both answered confidently and comprehensively.
Afterwards, I was joined by a number of students from different year groups. They answered my questions willingly and honestly. I must have put them at ease as I think we could have continued chatting for much longer had I not had to interview other key individuals!
The Co-Chair, alongide a staff and parent governor, were next in the ‘hot seat’. They were joined remotely by a couple of parents. Representatives from the Governing Body talked about the school’s progress regarding online safety, particularly over the past 18 months, whilst parents spoke highly of the guidance it offered and open lines of communication.
After a very short break, I met with a number of the school’s support staff, such as the Pastoral Manager, Office Manager/Head Teacher’s PA, Site Manager and SEND Coordinator/PE Teacher. Their input provided valuable insight into the operation of the school at various levels.
I enjoyed meeting teachers from different subject areas too. We had quite a broad cross-section in the room this morning. Many were also Form Tutors or involved in the delivery of PSHE across the school.
Later, I met with the school’s technical team to discuss issues, monitoring, reporting and audit logs. The IT Manager and his support staff displayed a wealth of knowledge and expertise. An external Data Protection Officer and advisor to the Governing Body popped into the meeting to explain more about his role and the influence of the company he represented on the school.
Forty minutes were set aside for me to review the submitted evidence and detailed notes that I had taken throughout the morning. It also allowed me time to prepare a résumé to feedback to those in charge of leading the school.
The final session of the day involved a meeting with the Head Teacher and members of the Senior Leadership Team to feedback my findings, including identification of their very many strengths, and share suggested areas for further development. They agreed with my proposals, stating that they were, in fact, very similar to those they had identified themselves.
Many thanks for making the day spent at Stroud High School (SHS) so productive. Great attention to detail and thorough organisation on both sides meant that things ran smoothly and to time, despite the very intensive schedule.
Congratulations to you all; very well-deserved. Now, enjoy the long bank holiday weekend whilst I spend time writing up your report!