With social media becoming such a prominent tool in all aspects of life, many schools throughout the world are using platforms such as Facebook to communicate with the wider school community. As well as this, digital apps have offered another accessible way to internally communicate between other members of staff on a daily basis. Having digital platforms to stay connected has allowed schools to manage their communications on a much wider scale.
What to consider
As many education professionals will be very familiar with most social media platforms, it is important to remember that your personal account could potentially be seen as part of your wider school image. Your personal account may burst with personality or try to paint a digital picture of who you are as an individual, but at the same time, it's important to maintain your own safety and professionalism when producing content under the school name. If you are using the school's own Facebook page to communicate with parents and carers, are you considering the bigger picture? Does the content affect anyone's reputation? Are you protecting everyone's privacy? Is the content you're producing appropriate for a school community?
As well as this, if you are using apps such as WhatsApp to communicate internally with colleagues, remember, this will be managed under your personal account. Take note that your personal information such as your mobile phone number will be used as well as a profile picture. Are you actively managing your privacy settings to ensure you aren't giving too much personal information away?
Why is this important?
With so many different things to consider, some of the risks may fly under the radar. As education professionals, safeguarding duties don't just stop at the school gates. Your social media activity still needs to maintain the same safeguarding practices that the school has in place to ensure your own safety as well as the school community's. GDPR has also become a prominent factor in communications over the past couple of years with schools having their own guidelines and rules. Taking the time to understand the various policies and practices involved can allow you to feel more confident in your social media activity.
What is available?
Facebook have worked with UK SIC partners Childnet and South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL) to produce a very helpful guide on how schools can safely use Facebook apps. This 12-page resource gives you everything you need to consider when it comes to managing your communications via a digital platform, including safeguarding considerations and security info. The apps which are extensively covered include:
- Facebook pages
- Facebook groups
- Facebook Live
- Facebook Messenger
Each page is broken down to show what each app is primarily used for. It highlights some of the features included, along with how it may be used in a school setting for communication. Each page sets out important things to consider from a safeguarding point of view that every education professional should be aware of.
Please note: The guide is only suitable for internal communications between staff and external communications with the parental community. It does not cover educators communicating with students. It is important that your school policy clearly defines how to communicate with students digitally.
There are also added links and guidance associated with each app along with additional resources from external sources. With social media allowing us to communicate in such an easy and accessible way, taking the time to learn about what is available can allow a safer and more productive method to keep in contact with your school. Download the resource.
This article was initially published on the UK SIC's website and is reproduced here with permission from thr authors.
Find out more information about the work of the UK Safer Internet Centre (SIC) generally, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.