Thursday, 16 August 2012

Safe schools online

Department of Education Media Release

16 Aug 2012

The Department of Education today said it provided guidelines and support for staff in navigating issues that may arise from social media.

Deputy Secretary, Liz Banks said the Department’s Protective Practices for Staff – guidelines for schools and colleges outlines duty of care by school staff for their students and the Department of Education for its employees.

“The guidelines include advice for teachers not to engage in correspondence of a personal nature with students including letters, email, phone, SMS text, Facebook and MySpace.

“This does not include class postcards or Christmas, birthday or bereavement cards.

“The guidelines also provide advice to teachers against contacting individual students by using social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace or to become overly familiar with students through this medium, such as becoming ‘friends’ on Facebook.”

Ms Banks said the Department was currently working to produce a Social Media Policy.

“The policy is currently in draft form with an aim to release it in Term III to provide all staff with clarity, security and guidance.”

Ms Banks said the Department had many mechanisms in place to promote a safe, supportive and respectful school community.

“The Department’s Web Safety in Schools policy is designed to ensure that Tasmanian students participate safely in technology-based learning and use technology responsibly.

“Schools are required to develop their own policies to address bullying, including cyber bullying, appropriate use of the internet and mobile phones, and to put in place school wide approaches to developing respectful and positive behaviour.

“All Tasmanian Government schools have been able to access the Roar Educate Cyber Safety program which addresses cyber bullying, online identity, social networking, privacy, gaming, digital footprint, web research copyright and cyber security.

“Students also learn how to be aware and responsible users of technology through the curriculum.”

Ms Banks said that all members of the school community had a right to be safe at school and that there was a strong connection between students’ wellbeing, behaviour and learning.

“Students are more likely to do well and to behave well in a caring, supportive environment where the relationships are respectful.

“While schools are able to impose sanctions for inappropriate behaviour, they also strive to build environments that teach students how to behave appropriately.

“Online safety is a shared responsibility between community, parents, schools and students.”

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