Digital Monitoring – 12 Questions Ofsted May Ask You During an Inspection and Why

5 minute read
By Smoothwall

Digital monitoring can be a relevant factor in various aspects of an Ofsted inspection, so it’s important to understand the kind of questions inspectors may ask around this subject, and why. The 12 questions in this article provide a guide to how Ofsted might enquire into your digital monitoring procedures. 

Digital monitoring has become an increasingly important aspect of KCSIE and, subsequently, the Ofsted handbook. Schools, colleges and MATs must therefore be able to demonstrate a clear understanding of online risks and the monitoring systems they have in place to safeguard students and identify risks requiring intervention.

12 digital monitoring questions Ofsted may ask

  1. What monitoring system(s) does your school/academy/college have in place?

  2. How does your system provide appropriate monitoring on school devices and school networks to support pupils and staff with online safety?

  3. How often are your school/academy/college’s monitoring procedures reviewed?

  4. Who is responsible for managing the digital monitoring systems in place at your school/academy/college

  5. Does your DSL/safeguarding team have enough time, training and resources to fulfil the digital monitoring demands required of the role?

  6. How does your school/academy/college identify pupils who may need early help or are at risk of:

    1. Discrimination and/or bullying?

    2. Neglect, abuse, grooming or exploitation?

    3. County lines?

    4. Extremism and radicalisation?

  7. How are digital safeguarding concerns/incidents dealt with and recorded?

  8. Do you ensure all staff receive regular online safety training?

  9. How does your school/academy/college monitor for incidents of child-on-child abuse?

    1. Looking at your child protection record, can you tell me how this incident of child-on-child cyberbullying was dealt with in more detail?

  10. Do your pupils understand the various risks associated with using technology (including the dangers of social media, grooming, bullying etc.) and how to keep themselves and others safe online?

    1. What strategies are in place to achieve this?

    2. How do you assess their effectiveness?

  11. How does your school/academy/college enable pupils to navigate the internet in an age-appropriate way

  12. Do your governors understand the digital monitoring systems used within the school/academy/college?

Why might Ofsted ask these questions? 



According to both KCSIE and the filtering and monitoring standards established by the Department for Education, schools, colleges and MATs should “have effective monitoring strategies in place that meet their safeguarding needs.” 

Safeguarding needs differ depending on the educational setting, so what constitutes “effective monitoring strategies” for one school may not hit the mark for another. As a result, there is no cut and dry way to answer the questions listed above. Instead, a good strategy for preparing outstanding responses for your specific school is to consider why inspectors may ask these questions. 

Inspectors want to see a correct understanding of the statutory regulations around monitoring, and effective policies in place to implement them. The guidelines that inform Ofsted’s approach to inspecting digital monitoring procedures focus on the following factors:

Understanding of online risks

With technology now playing such a vital role in education, schools are required to have a clear understanding of the potential risks involved in the use of digital devices. This includes threats like cyberbullying, grooming, sexual exploitation and radicalisation. 

An accurate assessment of such risks, along with sound knowledge of legislative requirements, should ensure that related safeguarding policies are appropriate and effective. 

Clearly defined roles and responsibilities

Monitoring procedures should be clearly defined and communicated across the school community. All staff members should know their specific safeguarding responsibilities - which includes their role in supporting effective monitoring. 

For example, in accordance with KCSIE 2023, as part of taking lead responsibility for child protection, DSLs are now required to understand the monitoring systems and processes in place at their school. Safeguarding Leads should therefore be prepared to demonstrate this knowledge to Ofsted inspectors. 

Pupil awareness of online safety

In addition to staff awareness of online safety, schools have a duty to support students to develop their own understanding of online risks and how to protect themselves from harm in digital environments. To achieve this, schools can utilise resources like the Education for a Connected World framework, which is recommended by KCSIE.  

Ofsted may enquire about any strategies in place to teach students about online risks including:

  • Cyberbullying
  • Radicalisation and extremism
  • Sexual or violent content
  • Online scams

Pupils should also be aware of the processes by which they can report online incidents and access the various forms of support available to them.

Effectiveness of existing monitoring systems

Ofsted inspectors are looking for evidence of appropriate monitoring systems that allow schools to oversee the safe use of technology and effectively identify any risks or concerns. What is regarded as appropriate monitoring for a particular school will depend on factors like pupil age range, student body size and level of access to digital devices.

In addition to having appropriate monitoring systems in place, schools must “regularly review their effectiveness” (KCSIE, 2023). Ofsted may request details on how often this occurs and the assessment processes involved. 

How incidents are recorded and resolved

Another component of effective monitoring is how a school responds to concerns and records incidents. Inspectors want to see clear risk prevention and early intervention strategies in place, with evidence of effective action being taken when risks are identified. 

Schools are expected to maintain a single central record of safeguarding checks. Inspectors will require secure access to a school’s records, from which they may request further details on specific incidents and how they were identified, recorded and resolved. 

Keep in mind that when it comes to multi-academy trusts, Ofsted may request “details of each individual academy to be provided separately and without delay, even if it is held centrally” (School Inspection Handbook). 

Meet Ofsted requirements with digital monitoring solutions

Utilising the right digital monitoring solutions can help schools to not only meet Ofsted safeguarding requirements, but surpass them. Technology-based approaches offer schools a level of visibility far beyond that which physical human monitoring alone can achieve.

For example, digital solutions such as Smoothwall Monitor can help schools to:

  • Identify vulnerabilities and at-risk pupils that may otherwise go undetected
  • Categorise risks quickly and accurately to facilitate timely responses
  • Easily create and access reports in an efficient, centralised database
  • Reduce false positives with the help of real-time human moderation
  • Clearly demonstrate to Ofsted that robust digital safeguarding systems are in place

Ready to learn about real-time, human-moderated digital monitoring?

Find out how Smoothwall Monitor can help your school to meet KCSIE and Ofsted monitoring requirements, reduce workloads and improve overall digital safeguarding standards in your setting. 

Find out more


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