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What Should the Rules be When Kids Take your IT Equipment Home?

February 9, 2018, 14:58 GMT+1
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  • When schools lend out tablets and laptops to pupils for home use, what should the rules be in terms of how they’re used?
What Should the Rules be When Kids Take your IT Equipment Home?

When managing networks, school devices for home use and ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) policies in schools, it’s easy to get caught up in the technology required to minimise risk and maximise learning.

Yet whilst important, technology provides only part of the solution. Ultimately, behaviour is the most important thing to address. When sending pupils home with devices, schools should carefully consider how they expect the devices to be used, and let this dictate what their acceptable use policy (AUP) for pupils and parents in the home environment looks like.

Think about how you can ease the transition from school to home, and provide parents with the information they need to role model good behaviour online for their children – the UK Safer Internet Centre’s Advice for Parents and Carers can help with this.

The UK Safer Internet Centre’s lead partner, the South West Grid for Learning, understands how lengthy the process of drawing up and reviewing such policies can be, and has therefore created a set of Online Safety Template Policies, which include AUPs that schools can mould as necessary to meet their requirements.

It’s advisable to have ‘Follow me home’ filtering and monitoring policies in place if you’re considering allowing school devices to be taken off the premises, as these will help schools to comply with the statutory DfE guidance, Keeping Children Safe in Education. Such policies allow for the online filtering and monitoring applied at school to continue in the home environment, so long as users are logged on to the school network.

In principle, this means there should be a lower risk of the devices being used to access potentially harmful content. In reality, these policies rely on pupils accessing the school network, most likely via a VPN. If they don’t do this, they’ll be accessing the internet via their own home Wi-Fi or a 3G/ 4G network connection, which will likely have few, if any, restrictions. Most reputable filtering providers are able to offer ‘follow me home’ solutions, but there may some compatibility issues across some devices.

That’s why education is so important. Conversations should be had in school about what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behaviour online. Expectations should be set as to what school devices taken home will and won’t be used for, as well as how the internet can and can’t be accessed at home.

Parents also need to understand the importance of accessing online material in accordance with school policies and the risks of not doing so. Consideration should also be given to what sanctions ought to be applied if a pupil fails to follow the AUP.

Kat Tremlett is a UK Safer Internet Centre helpline practitioner

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