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Microsoft Power BI Helps School Safeguard Students

The internet is a key resource for learning and plays an important part of the recreational activities of students

Posted by Joe Lawson-West | August 22, 2017 | Technology

The internet is a key resource for learning and plays an important part of the recreational activities of the students who live on-site at Swalcliffe Park School.

 The school caters for boys aged 11 to 19 who have a diagnosis of autism spectrum conditions, and also functions as a children’s home. All students have statements of special educational needs or education health care plans, with a large number of local authorities placing students in the school. The children’s homes and school have both been judged to be outstanding. Because Swalcliffe functions as both a school and care home, it's vitally important for the safeguarding of the students that internet access and content barriers are suitably and adequately managed.

 The release of the new DFE guidance around safeguarding children in education in September last year prompted a review of the school's IT systems to better support safeguarding within the school. Blue Planet IT (our IT partner) began working with us in May, when the review as still in draft form, on building a solution that would help staff support and educate our students to an even greater degree.

 The school already has enterprise-grade security in place with the deployment of a Watchguard UTM and Microsoft Active Directory, but a greater visibility was needed to help identify potential safeguarding issues in a way that was easy to access and understandable for non-technical staff.

 Blue Planet IT suggested using Microsoft Power BI to collate the data available from the Watchguard UTM to build a safeguarding specific view of the data. From the very first draft report we could see the immediate benefit of Microsoft Power BI presenting visual overview of potential safeguarding issues across the whole school’s internet usage. Early in development the reports highlighted students who may have needed additional support by identifying specific students accessing content that could have put them at risk, and we were then able to put additional support in place.

 We now have a suite of reports and dashboards that presents potential safeguarding issues in line with the 3 risks identified by the ‘Safeguarding Children in Education’ guidelines. In addition to this we have real-time alerting for high priority safeguarding issues.

 A more recent development is the introduction of a brief safeguarding question at log on, the results of which are also analysed in Microsoft Power BI, showing us the whole picture. This allows us to gather data and target areas of concern through our curriculum and one-to-one support as required, and then measure how effective these interventions and activities are.

 Praise from Ofsted

 We showed Ofsted the above system - now called SafeWatch - and they said that they had not seen a system like this and that it was ‘worthy of further dissemination’. We have subsequently shown other local schools and the local authority and received very positive feedback.

 Extract from Ofsted report:

 "The school’s approach to internet safety is outstanding and worthy of further dissemination. New software aids staff in identifying patterns and trends, informing them if young people are attempting to access unsafe sites. This information assists staff in developing young people’s risk assessments. More importantly, the system alerts staff at the same time that a young person attempts to access content that is considered inappropriate or unsafe. As a result, staff take immediate action to safeguard young people.”

 Next steps

For more information about this project and the services offered by Blue Planet IT, please contact Steven Gordon on 01295 533977 or steven.gordon@blueplanet-it.co.uk, or visit http://www.safe-watch.co.uk 

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