Role of the Online Safety Coordinator

What are the expectations and what does this look like in schools?

The role of the online safety coordinator (OSC) is key to implementing effective online safety in a school. The characteristics of individuals in the role vary but active commitment to embedding online safety in all parts of school life and a determination to work towards Online Safety Mark accreditation have been seen to improve safeguarding and confidence of the whole community to keep children safe online. The case study below has been prepared by the Somerset ELiM team and contains quotations from Online Safety Mark Assessor reports.

Expectation for Online Safety Mark accreditation

The school/college has designated a member of staff responsible for online safety with clear responsibilities. These include leadership of the online safety group, staff training and awareness. They are responsible for monitoring incidents and handling sensitive issues. A number of staff members take an active role in online safety.

“The leadership of online safety at Knights Templar First School is inspirational both in terms of the Online Safety Group, which includes the contribution of the Digital Leaders, and the Online Safety Lead who has demonstrated a determination to move the school forward in this area.”

Knights Templar First School

Aspirational level in the 360 degree safe self review tool

The school/college has designated a member of staff responsible for online safety with clear responsibilities. These include leadership of the online safety group, staff training and awareness, commitment to and coordination of an online safety programme with the wider community. They are responsible for monitoring incidents and handling sensitive issues. All staff take active responsibility for online safety.

It is recommended that the Online Safety Coordinator (OSC) should have these roles

  • Lead the Online Safety Group
  • Coordinate work with the school’s Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)
  • Log, manage and inform others of online safety incidents and how they have been resolved where this is appropriate
  • Meet with Senior Leadership Team and Online Safety Governor to regularly discuss incidents and developments
  • Lead the establishment and review of Online Safety policies and documents
  • Lead and monitor a progressive online safety curriculum for pupils
  • Ensure all staff are aware of the procedures outlined in policies relating to online safety
  • Provide and/or broker training and advice for staff
  • Attend updates, subscribe to appropriate newsletters and liaise with the LA / REC online safety staff and technical staff

This description must be interpreted in line with the size, age range and ethos of the school.  This document provides guidance on each of the bullet points.

Lead the Online Safety Group

Effective online safety is seen in schools where the whole school community is involved and the experience and knowledge of learners contributes to policy and practice.  Leadership cannot be a ‘one person’ operation. The Online Safety group does not have to be large and can be an extension of other groups.  It should include the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL), other teachers, learners and a Governor.  Many primary schools involve the school council or digital leader groups. It is important that the group meets regularly but this does not mean that work cannot be completed outside of the meetings. The Coordinator leads the group as the enabler organising the meeting, recording the action points and making sure these are completed.

Kingston St Mary Primary School:

“This shared ownership of online safety policy and practice, and the headteacher’s expectation that it is everyone’s responsibility, has led to it being embedded in the life of the school.”

Coordinate work with the school’s Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)

There must be synergy between the roles of DSL and OSC.  In some schools the responsibility for both is with one person. In other schools the OSC role is ongoing coordination of strategy and the DSL or another member of the Senior Leadership team has overall responsibility. Whatever the situation, online safety should be a subset of safeguarding and coordination between the two roles is essential.  This should be through a regular meeting to discuss:

  • Issues relating to online safety and safeguarding
    • what happened?
    • what was the resolution?
    • can we improve practice?
    • can we improve education?
  • Communications with the community
  • Opportunities for training and education

Eastover Primary School:

“The school has good leadership in relation to Online Safety.  The working relationship between the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) and the Online Safety Lead (OSL) is excellent with frequent meetings exploring issues and resolutions.” 

Log, manage and inform others of online safety incidents and how they have been resolved where this is appropriate

There needs to be consideration of the best ways of recording online safety and safeguarding issues.  All schools should have a log of safeguarding incidents and most schools use the same procedure for online safety incidents. If incidents are reported to the OSC then they should also record them on the same system. The DSL and OSC should establish protocols of how these incidents are dealt with.  The incidents should be discussed at the regular meeting.

Oaklands Primary School

“With the monthly reporting of website visits and the incidents reports the school monitor the situation not only in school but outside of school.  Monitoring is reported to governors and influences what happens in the school.” 

Somerset Bridge Primary

“The commitment to online safety from all members of the school community is demonstrated by the effective use of CPOMS reporting tool.  This can be accessed to record safeguarding concerns by everyone in the staff team; although only the Child Protection leads and governor can see all the information recorded.  Actions taken are added and members of staff tagged where they need to be informed about an issue.   Actions are followed up and reinforced through assemblies, emphasis within online safety lessons and ongoing conversations with parents, children and members of staff.  The data is monitored and will provide a year on year comparison of issues and actions.

Meet with Senior Leadership Team and Online Safety Governor to regularly discuss incidents and developments

This is part of the work with the DSL and Online Safety group work.  Where regular online safety group meetings are not continuing for any reasons, it is essential that a meeting is arranged once a half term with the DSL and SLT to discuss concerns and new technology that has become available.

Lead the establishment and review of online safety policies and documents

The school should have an online safety policy and associated Acceptable Use Agreements.  These can be based on models provided by agencies but must be customised to the school.  Normally the policies are reviewed on an annual or bi-annual basis as instigated by the Governors. The OSC needs to be aware of the renewal dates and make sure that other policies (safeguarding, behaviour, data protection etc.) reflect changes.

Lead and monitor a progressive online safety curriculum for pupils

The OSC should enable the staff to teach a progressive online safety curriculum.  They should establish a curriculum plan that details the teaching and other events that take place across the school year.  From this plan resources for each class should be provided. The responsibility of the OSC extends to monitoring the delivery through staff and pupil interviews, looking at displays in classrooms, and could include class observations.

Hayesdown First School

“Children talk with knowledge and passion about their online safety learning. They are very clear about what to do if they see something they’re not sure about, and spoke confidently about using the SMART rules in the classroom and at home. The group are clearly enjoying the challenge of supporting their peers. When discussing cyberbullying, children spoke about how they would report incidents to their teacher and how they would behave appropriately when communicating online. They also spoke about online gaming and the challenges of age-inappropriate gaming: “I always get my Mum or Dad to help me choose a game, so they know what I’m playing is safe”. 

Ensure all staff are aware of the procedures outlined in policies relating to online safety

Policies and procedure should be part of the staff handbook and staff induction procedures.  However, for policy to become part of the practice of the school, it must be part of professional development sessions and ongoing discussion in staff meetings. New staff need to be introduced to those responsible for online safety. Where a specific incident affects pupils or staff, this should be shared appropriately with staff and changes to procedure and policy agreed.

Somerset Bridge Primary School

“The policy is put into practice through reinforcement at staff meetings for teaching and support staff … The e-safety coordinator has an active role in a teaching union which has contributed to them managing the passing on of information and knowledge in a way that has increased the confidence of staff without them being intimidated by too many demands.”

Provide training and advice for staff

The school should provide regular training for staff.  It is part of the OSC responsibilities to deliver this training. We recommend that all staff receive updated online safety training at least once every two years.  This can either be provided by the OSC, LA/REC or other agencies.

Kingston St Mary Primary

“Training for staff has been part of INSET and is included on staff meeting agendas under the safeguarding item.  Both the previous and current e-safety lead attended a day course to support development of e-safety in a primary school.  Teaching assistants have received training as part of their meetings to inform them about concerns and the process of reporting.

A governor attended e-safety training and gave feedback to the main governors’ meeting.” 

“Even though there have been challenges due to staff changes and a change of governance, the e-safety leader has taken every opportunity to put online safety at the heart of all technology use across the curriculum, and is passionate about its importance.”

St Bartholomew’s First School

Attend updates, subscribe to appropriate newsletters and liaise with the LA/REC online safety staff and technical staff

The OSC needs to stay up to date with issues.  This may be with information from the LA/REC, Safer Internet Centre or other agencies.

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