Online Safety: Responding to ongoing concerns affecting schools and colleges


Ensuring that everyone can benefit from technology free from harm is what SWGfL has been working hard to achieve over the past two decades. Through technologies, presentations, support services and training, SWGfL advises schools, colleges, public bodies, and the industry on safeguarding and advancing positive online safety policies. Currently, SWGfL operates helplines and supportive services for the public and children’s workforce:  SWGfL are renowned for responding to concerns faced by schools, whether that be issues facing students or staff. Through services, tools, and resources, they have provided support for online safety understanding and awareness in times when it has been needed most. When COVID-19 forced schools into lockdown and adopted a remote learning strategy, SWGfL donated their anonymous communication tool Whisper for free to all schools and colleges while closures were in effect. This helped to ensure that schools across the United Kingdom were still able to support young people while at home. Further still, SWGfL provide a range of products covering online safety, security, and education and technology, all designed to support those working with young people. The services from SWGfL helped tackle nationwide issues within the internet space. 

Professionals Online Safety Helpline
Back in 2021, SWGfL was made aware of a serious and harmful trend circulating on TikTok. Schools and colleges across the United Kingdom were reporting incidents where their pupils had been making videos of an explicit, offensive, and harmful nature through the social media platform. In some incidents, images of members of staff were being doctored to include pornographic imagery, as well as harmful accusations relating to conduct or personality.

This harmful trend deeply affected professionals working with young people, resulting in some teachers taking time off work due to stress. Many cases were reported to our Professionals Online Safety Helpline which is dedicated to supporting professionals working with children and young people with any online safety concern they may be having. Alongside TikTok, POSH helped to remove the accounts posting harmful material, whilst advising schools around what they could do to effectively respond to the matter. After working closely with both schools and TikTok, SWGfL are advising any schools that continue to have issues relating to harmful videos or fake school accounts to report it directly to POSH.

Harmful Sexual Behaviour Support Service
SWGfL kicked off 2022 by adding another support service, this time supporting schools with tackling harmful sexual behaviours in children and young people. Developed alongside The Marie Collins Foundation, and funded by the Home Office and in collaboration with the Department for Education, the Harmful Sexual Behaviour Support Service was launched. 

It was created in response to a report from Ofsted last year that focussed on sexual harassment and abuse in schools. It found incidents where children described harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) as being “so commonplace that they see no point in reporting them”. The support service is there to better support those professionals at the head of this issue in England. It can support changing the culture Ofsted highlighted in their report around sexual abuse in schools and colleges. The service, run by trained professionals, provides the tools to equip and empower adults through:
  • advice on individual cases or incidents of harmful sexual behaviour
  • guidance on policy development on tackling harmful sexual behaviour
  • sharing relevant resources, best practice, and contacts around harmful sexual behaviour
HSB practitioners are on hand to offer advice on specific incidents of harmful sexual behaviour, whilst also offering guidance on policy and providing appropriate resources around best practice. It is available Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm. Professionals can email or call 0344 2250623.

If you would like to learn more about the support that SWGfL provides, visit their website at

SWGfL will be at Stand 59 at ASCL Annual Conference 2022.
Posted: 24/02/2022 16:46:17