Introductory Statement

A subcommittee of the staff of Scoil Chiarain has formulated this policy with support from documentation provided by NCTE.

Rationale

The Internet is rapidly becoming an increasingly popular research and communication tool at home and at school. Due to the fact that it is an unregulated medium, and has the capacity to host any type of information from online communities all over the world, the need for information and resources on Internet safety and related issues has never been more essential. Just like in the real world, the internet has access to people and certain kinds of information that are unsuitable for children – and may potentially have a negative impact on children’s attitudes, behaviour and well-being.

Although it is widely believed that the potential benefits of using the internet as a learning tool far outweigh any risks involved, it is, however, important to be aware of the risks and their impact from the outset in order to equip students with the necessary information and skills to navigate safely on the internet.

Relationship to the characteristic spirit of the school

In keeping with the school ethos that encourages equality, participation and respect for difference, the Acceptable Use Policy values all members of the school community and welcomes their role in its development.

Aims

The aims of the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is to ensure that pupils will benefit from learning opportunities offered by the school’s internet resources in a safe and effective manner.

Internet use and access is considered a school resource and privilege. Therefore if the school AUP is not adhered to this privilege will be withdrawn and parents notified.

Guidelines

(1)    Pupils

General

  • Internet sessions will always be supervised by a teacher or special needs assistant.
  • Filtering software and/or equivalent systems will be used in order to minimise the risk of exposure to inappropriate material.
  • The school will monitor pupil’s internet usage.
  • Students and staff will be provided with training in the area of internet safety.
  • Uploading and downloading of non-approved software will not be permitted.
  • Virus protection software will be used and updated on a regular basis.
  • The use of personal floppy disks or CD-ROMs in school requires a teacher’s permission.
  • Students will observe good “netiquette” at all times and will not undertake any actions that may bring the school into disrepute.
  • Access to computers at break times will be limited to games or word processing activities. Internet access will not be available.
  • Passwords for Internet access will not be given to pupils or visitors.

World Wide Web

  • Students will use the Internet for educational purposes only
  • Students will not visit internet sites that contain obscene, illegal, hateful or otherwise objectionable material
  • Students will never disclose or publicise personal information
  • Students will be aware that their usage will be monitored closely
  • Student will be advised to inform their teacher if they discover any unsavoury material or messages

Email

  • Students will use approved email accounts under supervision from a teacher or special needs assistant
  • Students will not send or receive any material that is illegal, obscene, defamatory or that is intended to annoy or intimidate another person
  • Students will not reveal their own or other people’s personal details such as addresses, telephone numbers or pictures
  • Students will never arrange a face to face meeting with someone
  • Students will only send or receive an email attachment with permission from the teacher

Internet Chat

  • Students will only have access to chat rooms, discussion forums or other electronic communication forums that have been approved by the school.
  • Chat rooms and discussion forums will only be used for educational purposes and will always be supervised
  • User names will be used to avoid disclosure of identity
  • Face-to-face meetings with someone organised via internet chat is forbidden

Sanctions for Misuse

se of the internet may result in disciplinary action, including verbal warnings, notification of parents, withdrawal of privileges and in extreme cases suspension or expulsion. The school also reserves the right to report any illegal activities to the appropriate authorities.

(2)    Staff

In addition to the AUP for pupil internet use in our school, it is necessary to extend the policy to refer specifically to staff of the school.

Computer resources are the property of the school and are not intended for any other use. In general, these computers may not be used for illegal acts, breach of school policies or personal use unrelated to school activities unless specifically authorised by the principal.

Access

All the employees of the BOM and approved users should have access to the computer resources of the school. Access should be available during school opening hours (8.00am – 5.00pm) to the approved users.

Internet access is password protected. Staff with access to the relevant password must never give this information to a pupil or any unauthorised user.

To use a computer which is located within a classroom, the class teacher should be consulted and class work not be disrupted.

Staff can use computers which are located outside of classrooms when not required for ICT classes.

Limits on use

Users may not use the computing resources to play games or to store, create, play or transmit any offensive, obscene or indecent images, data or other material.

It is not acceptable to attempt to access any files, data or records for which you are not authorised by the Principal or her representative.
School computers may not be used to publish or transmit anything libellous our defamatory or damaging to another computer system or to facilitate children’s access to unsuitable material. Such actions will be regarded as a serious disciplinary matter.

It is the responsibility of the staff of the school to ensure, so far as it is practicable, that school computers are not used for unauthorised purposes.

It is not acceptable to engage in any activity which:

Disrupts the intended use of the resources
Wastes resources (people, capacity, computer, network, data, etc)
Compromises the legal rights of others
Modifies, damages or destroys computing resources or the data on them
Users must respect the laws of Ireland and specifically, but not exclusively, be aware of responsibilities under:
Copyright Act (1963) as amended
Data Protection Act (1988)
Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act (1989)
Criminal Damage Act (1991)
Freedom of Information Act (1997)
Child Trafficking and Pornography Act (1998)
Employment Equality Act (1998)

Sanctions for misuse:

A failure to abide by these policies may result in being denied access to computer resources. Those acting in contravention of these regulations and this policy may be subject to disciplinary and/or criminal proceedings.

Conclusion

This policy on acceptable computer use supersedes all previous policies on acceptable computer use and will be amended from time to time as required. Any member of staff who uses the computer resources is deemed to have made him/herself aware of these policies.

Success Criteria

Our school policy on internet use will be deemed successful if the following criteria are achieved:

  • Staff training has been provided on the use of the internet
  • Computers are providing an additional resource for teaching and learning
  • Computers are regarded as an effective tool in preparation, planning and record keeping
  • Staff understand and use computer resources following training
  • Staff encourage pupil use of computer resources

Roles and Responsibilities

  • The ICT post-holder has responsibility for ICT within Scoil Chiarain. All issues or problems should be reported to the post holder, who will co-ordinate a response to the issue, such as consultation with the computer teacher, seeking technical support or seeking additional funding from the BOM.
  • The BOM has responsibility for ratification of this AUP and for the provision of funding for additional resources
  • Teachers have responsibility to develop their own ICT skills and to instruct students in appropriate use of the internet
  • The Principal has responsibility for informing parents of the policy and obtaining their consent for their child to avail of ICT resources within the guidelines of the policy.

Timeframe for Review

As new ICT resources have been purchased for the school and the WiFi and the school website have been updated there will be a complete review of the policy in September 2017.

Responsibility for Review

Responsibility for the initial review will be taken by the policy task group and the ICT teacher and Principal. Any amendments will be included before the policy is finalised.

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Ratification and Communication

Once completed and agreed by the staff of the school, the policy will be referred to the Principal.

The Parents Policy Committee – a subcommittee of the BOM – will be invited to give input.

Finally, the AUP will be referred to the BOM for approval.

The final policy will be communicated to parents by the Principal. The AUP will then be communicated to all members of staff and will form part of the School Plan.



Update to Policy

Introduction & Rationale

The policy adopted in 2004 continues to outline our policy in relation to internet use within our school. However, given the improved hardware and infrastructure in use within the school, it is considered prudent at this time to further develop the policy to include the use of interactive whiteboards, videoconferencing, use of digital cameras and a school website.

In 2007 all classrooms were fitted with interactive whiteboards and provided with laptop computers. This valuable learning resource widens the scope for teaching and learning experiences within the classroom. Training, information documentation and staff memos have helped with the introduction of these new resources.

Digital Images

A digital camera is available in each area and a video camera is available for use in recording educational images and school activities. Photographs/video clips featuring the students may only be used in an educational context within the school. Photographs/video clips will not be available to third parties without written parental permission.

Students participating in the Dublin/Belfast Exchange programme share photographs of themselves with their fellow students in their link school, St. Gerard’s ERC, Belfast as part of their ongoing communication. Parental permission will be sought at the beginning of each year for students to participate in this programme.

Videoconferencing

Currently, the school is involved in a cross border initiative, Dissolving Boundaries, which involves pupils in one class communicating with students in Castletowers Special School, Ballymena using videoconferencing on a regular basis. Parent’s permission will be sought at the beginning of each year for students to participate. A full explanation of this project will be given to parents at the October Parents’ Night meeting. The link is facilitated and supervised at all times by teachers in both schools.

Internet Safety

Through the Schools Broadband Programme, content filtering is used to enhance the schools ICT network and involves access to online content that is categorised as appropriate for schools while blocking access to certain web pages/websites of content that are categorised as inappropriate for schools. Teachers however, should always ensure that they have viewed sites prior to introducing them into the classroom and must make a professional judgement on the suitability of the material for the students and the educational value of the content.

Browsing the net

The school has selected Scoilnet (www.scoilnet.ie) as the educational web portal for use within the school as a means of sourcing websites that have been previewed and approved by educators. Teachers also share information on useful educational websites considered appropriate for use within our programme.

Students are encouraged to use the Google search engine when researching information. Google Safe Search is used to filter inappropriate material. The school computers are set at the highest/safest level – Strict. No user should alter this setting without permission from the principal.
School Website

It is the intention to develop a school website in the future. Information relating to the school will be published to assist parents, teachers and other professionals. The following rules will apply:

  • Students will be given the opportunity to publish projects, artwork or school work on the web in accordance with clear policies and approval processes regarding the content that can be loaded on the school’s website
  • The website will be regularly checked to ensure that there is no content that compromises the safety of students or staff
  • The publication of student work will be co-ordinated by a teacher.
  • Student personal information will not be included
  • Students will continue to own the copyright of any work published

As outlined in the AUP 2004, failure to adhere to the school policy will lead to sanctions as outlined.


November 2015.

Review date: September 2017

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