OVERSTONE COMBINED SCHOOL
POLICY ON USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
This policy applies to employees, pupils and governors of the school. Volunteers helping at the school are also asked to abide by its principles.
Social media (such as Facebook and Twitter), messaging (such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger), blogs and online discussion forums bring opportunities for children, young people and adults to understand, engage and communicate with audiences in new and exciting ways. It is important that people are able to use these appropriately and safely.
Not all social media is suitable for children. Children under the age of 13 should not be registered users on Facebook or Instagram, so Overstone pupils should not be accessing them at all. However applications such as Edmodo may be used for the educational benefit of older pupils.
The primary aim of this policy is to ensure safety for employees and pupils when using social media. It aims to:
- balance support for innovation while providing a framework for best practice
- ensure that the school’s reputation is not compromised
- ensure that the school is not exposed to legal risks
- ensure that users of social media are able to distinguish clearly where information provided via social media is legitimately representative of the school
Users should bear in mind that information shared via social networking applications, even if they are on private spaces, is still subject to copyright, data protection and Freedom of Information legislation, as well as the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006.
Social networking applications must not be used by employees for personal use in work time.
Any proposal for using social networking applications as part of a school activity (whether hosted by the school or a third party) must be approved by the Headteacher first.
School users must abide by the following Code of Conduct.
(a) Social networking applications must not be used to publish any content which may result in actions for defamation, discrimination, breach of copyright, data protection or other claims for damages; this includes, but is not limited to, material of an illegal, sexual or offensive nature that may bring the school into disrepute
(b) Social networking applications must not be used in an abusive or hateful manner
(c) Social networking applications must not be used for actions that would breach school codes of conduct or staff policies
(d) Any content posted must not breach the school’s disciplinary policy, equality policy or anti-bullying policy
(e) Social networking applications must not be used to discuss or advise on any matters relating to school issues, staff, pupils, governors or parents/carers
(f) Employees and Governors should not claim to be acting as a representative of the school
(g) Where appropriate, for example on a personal blog, users should state clearly that comments are theirs alone
(h) References should not be made to any member of staff, parent/carer or pupil in a school context unless prior permission has been obtained from the Headteacher. If referring to school activities or events, care should be taken to follow the guidance in this Code of Conduct.
(i) Employees and Governors are advised to exercise caution when having friends on social networking applications who are aged under eighteen years old. It would not usually be advisable to have contacts who are ex-pupils below this age
(j) Pupils should not attempt to use social media networks to contact staff
(k) Staff should not have a personal mobile phone switched on in the presence of pupils during the school day
(l) Staff should be aware that if their use of social media outside work detrimentally affects the school’s reputation, the school may take disciplinary action
Any contravention of this policy by staff may be considered as potential gross misconduct under the school’s disciplinary policy. Any contravention by pupils will be dealt with under the school’s behaviour and exclusion policies, and by Governors under their agreed Code of Conduct.
All staff, children and Governors are encouraged to report any suspicions of misuse to the Headteacher or another trusted adult. If the Headteacher receives a disclosure that an adult employed by the school is using social networking in an inappropriate way as detailed above, this should be recorded in line with the Child Protection policy and/or disciplinary policy.
Children are strongly encouraged to report to a trusted adult any worries they have about cyberbullying, improper contact or social network activity. The school has a duty of care to investigate and work with children and families where there are reports of cyberbullying or misuse of social media outside school hours.
- The law
Whilst there is no one specific offence of cyberbullying, certain activities may be criminal offences under a range of different laws, including:
- Protection from Harassment Act 1997
- Malicious Communications Act 1988
- S 127 of Communication Act 2003
- Public Order Act 1986
- Defamation Acts of 1952 and 1996
A school cannot be defamed; only individuals or groups of individuals can bring action for defamation. Staff who are concerned that comments posted about them are defamatory should seek advice from their union or take their own legal advice.
The Headteacher will seek legal advice from Bucks County Council on any matters related to apparent misuse of social media.
- Links to other school policies
This policy should be considered alongside:
Child protection policy
Policy on communication between school and parents/carers
Staff disciplinary policy
- Review of policy
The policy will be reviewed every three years, or sooner if deemed necessary.
Date of approval by Governing Body: 1 December 2014
Review due: December 2017