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KCSIE Update 2022

5 minute read
By Smoothwall

Katherine Howard, Smoothwall’s Head of Education and Wellbeing Practice, explores the latest KCSIE guidance and the three key filter and monitoring updates schools need to be aware of.

As you may already know, updates to Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) guidance comes into effect this month. 

Here, Smoothwall’s Head of Safeguarding and Education Practice, Katherine Howard,  takes a deep dive into three key filter and monitoring updates and how the latest digital safeguarding technology can play a vital role in helping schools and colleges to meet KCSIE and keep children safe.

Governing bodies and proprietors should be doing all that they reasonably can to limit children’s exposure to potential risks from the school or college’s IT systems

“The most important change to come from the updates is that responsibility now falls on governing bodies to do all they can to protect children from potential harm while using IT systems. Governors now have a legal obligation to ensure that digital monitoring technology is up to the task, and infrastructure is in place to alert DSLs to risks both on and offline.  

The challenge for Governors is that some risks can be out of sight of safeguarding teams and school staff  – especially risks that exist online. When a student steps into harm’s way or becomes vulnerable online there can be clues staff or parents can see with eyes and ears alone; changes in mood, sudden deterioration in academic performance, to name a few. 

However, there are many more clues inside the student’s digital world to which parents and schools have little, if any access, and which are therefore invisible. I call this the Iceberg Effect. I believe it is one of the biggest barriers to digital wellbeing and it’s a very real blindspot. What students do, say or share online and to whom can place them in harm’s way. Mental health concerns, for example, are often discussed with friends in online forums or feelings can be expressed in a document and then quickly deleted.

Digital monitoring technology plays a key role in identifying these ‘invisible risks.’ Smoothwall Monitor, for example, uses both AI (Artificial Intelligence) and expertly trained human moderators, to help spot such risks before they escalate. It helps schools and colleges detect problems, respond to issues they were unaware of, and help individuals who haven’t previously been shown to be at risk. 

Essentially, this form of monitoring creates a safety net for teachers who, in a busy classroom, may be unable to see what is happening online whilst helping governing bodies to ‘limit’ children’s exposure to potential risks from IT systems. I highly recommend reading Smoothwall’s free Governors Guide to Digital Monitoring to learn more about how schools can limit exposure to potential risks online.”

The rise in online challenges and hoaxes 

“The new guidance points to a number of effective safeguarding resources to help schools and colleges understand and teach about safeguarding, including how they approach the rise in online challenges and hoaxes. 

Whilst many hoaxes and challenges are designed to be fun, some can be harmful and sadly, even life-threatening, such as the widely publicised ‘Black Out Challenge’. It’s helpful for schools and colleges to put measures in place to educate students and staff on how to help students develop thoughtful, rational thinking and sound judgement when it comes to viewing such content. 

Digital monitoring technology can play an important role here too, as it helps staff to spot early warning signs that a child is looking to participate in a dangerous challenge. 

For schools and colleges who use Smoothwall Monitor, human moderators can see what a student has typed and screenshots of what they have viewed. If the words, terms or phrases a student types on a digital document or on the internet related to a dangerous hoax or challenge, this will result in an alert. If the alert receives a serious grading, this is then flagged to the DSL. Armoured with such technology, schools and colleges are better equipped to respond to the rise in online challenges and hoaxes.”

Preventing “over blocking” in relation to digital safeguarding

“While all governing bodies must have appropriate filters and monitoring systems in place, the latest guidance acknowledges the implications that “over blocking” can have on a student’s education, denying them access to valuable learning resources and the freedom to explore online. 

Over-blocking can happen with certain filters that solely rely on a block list of domains to inform what content should be blocked to students. Blocklists can quickly become outdated, or the context of the words in the domain might not always be taken into account. As a result, the student’s ‘freedom’ to explore online becomes unnecessarily restricted. 

For example, blocking all YouTube content isn’t always helpful if a student wants to access educational videos. However, more sophisticated filter technology, such as a Smoothwall Filter, uses real-time analysis, granular control and social media controls to help pinpoint exactly what content can be safely accessed in order to enhance and enrich their learning. Using cutting-edge filter technology, schools and colleges can significantly help to prevent overblocking being an issue.”


“Digital filter and monitoring technology can play a vital role in helping schools and colleges to adopt a whole school approach to safeguarding. It helps to facilitate the safest space possible for students to learn and thrive, whilst helping schools to meet or potentially exceed the latest KCSIE guidance.”

Want to learn more?

If you’d like to find out more about how filter and digital monitoring technology can help your school or college please don’t hesitate to get in touch, for an informal, no-obligation discussion, or a solution demo. We're here to help. 

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