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The Byron Review summary

NEN has summarised the key comments and recommendations for schools which were made by Dr Tanya Byron in her independent review 'Safer Children in a Digital World', published on 27th March 2008. It concludes with how NEN E-Safety work can support schools in this respect. 

This summary should be read in conjunction with the executive summary and full report. They can be downloaded at 

“One of the strongest messages I have received during my Review was about the role that schools and other services for children and families have to play in equipping children and their parents to stay safe online. To empower children and raise the skills of parents I make recommendations to Government in the following areas: delivering E‐Safety through the curriculum, providing teachers and the wider children’s workforce with the skills and knowledge they need, reaching children and families through Extended Schools and taking steps to ensure that Ofsted holds the system to account on the quality of delivery in this area.”

The Byron review uses a useful analogy of how the risks are managed at public swimming pools. “Here we have gates, put up signs, have lifeguards and shallow ends, but we also teach children how to swim.” It goes on: “however, overall, schools' approach to E-Safety and related support is neither coherent, comprehensive, nor consistent”.

In relation to schools, the Byron review recommends that in good schools all staff will have a role with regards to E- Safety. It also says that in all schools, action should be taken at a whole‐school level to ensure that E‐Safety is mainstreamed throughout the school’s teaching, learning and other practices. In particular it recommends that: 

  • Government should encourage schools to use Becta’s self review framework assessment to drive continual improvement in schools’ use of ICT including with regard to E-Safety 
  • 100% of schools should have Acceptable Use Policies that are regularly reviewed, monitored and agreed with parents and students. Guidance on this should be incorporated in Becta’s revised self review framework 
  • All schools and local children’s services use an accredited filtering service 

The Government is recommended to take this opportunity to encourage school leaders and teachers to focus on E-Safety by identifying it as a national priority for continuous professional development (CPD) of teachers and the wider school workforce. All adults that work with particularly vulnerable children need to be familiar with the broad spectrum of online risks facing children and how they can support and empower children and young people to address them.

Ofsted take steps to hold schools to account and provide Government with a detailed picture of schools' performance on E-Safety. In particular it is recommends that: 

  • Ofsted provide the Government with a snapshot report on school responses to question 4b of the SEF (regarding E-Safety) by summer 2008
  • Ofsted should comment on the state of Internet safety training in schools as part of its forthcoming long report on ICT due for publication in 2008 

If by 2011 evidence indicates widespread concerns in relation to school delivery of E-Safety, the report recommends that Ofsted consider an assessment on performance in regard to E-Safety in all school inspection reports. 

The NEN applauds the publication of Dr Tanya Byron’s review and that it sets a clear statement that Local Authorities and schools have a fundamental role and responsibility for ensuring the safety of children when online, wherever they may be.

The NEN has worked with its partners, Local Authorities and schools to help to make children safer when online. Many recommendations made by the review are already in action or progress across the United Kingdom. 

In relation to extended schools and parents, the review comments: 

  • Parents also have a key role to play in managing children’s access to such material 
  • Parents either underestimate or do not realise how often children and young people come across potentially harmful and inappropriate material on the Internet and are often unsure about what they would do about it. “There is a generational digital divide”

 Supporting the delivery of E-Safety skills through extended schools, the review then recommends: 

  • That schools offer family learning courses in ICT, media literacy and E-Safety so that parents and children can together gain a better understanding of these issues 

When talking about the family, the report suggests that this should extend beyond simply parents and carers: “Messages to the public around E-Safety should be targeted towards grandparents and other relatives as well as parents.” 

There will need to be sustainable education and children’s services initiatives to improve the skills of children and their parents around E-Safety.

Concluding comments

To ignore E-Safety issues when implementing the Every Child Matters agenda would be a major oversight and would ultimately lead to significant gaps in child protection policies, leaving children and young people vulnerable.

Everyone has a role to play in empowering children to stay safe while they enjoy these new technologies, just as it is everyone’s responsibility to keep children safe in the non‐digital world.