Fears raised over loss of e-safety advice service

Advantexs Stephen OConnell is urging schools to act in the light of Northern Grid for Learnings imminent closure.
Advantexs Stephen OConnell is urging schools to act in the light of Northern Grid for Learnings imminent closure.

Fears have been raised that schools could be left without access to adequate e-safety advice when a Government-backed support network closes this year.

Dozens of schools in Cramlington, Blyth and Ashington could be affected by the end of Northern Grid for Learning (NGfL).

Now, Gateshead-based IT experts Advantex Network Solutions Ltd is calling on schools to draw up alternative plans.

NGfL works to keep thousands of young people in the region safe and secure from cyber bullying, radicalisation and other online threats through specialist workshops, advice, campaigns and events.

In the light of its closure, schools and others will need to seek alternative arrangements if they are to comply with changes to statutory guidance on keeping children safe, warns Advantex.

The Department for Education (DfE) plans – Keeping Children Safe in Education: Statutory Guidance for Schools and Colleges – came into force in September.

Stephen O’Connell, managing director of Advantex, which provides broadband advice and e-safety services to local schools, says the closure plans could not have come at a worse time.

He said: “The loss of Northern Grid for Learning’s services will have a far reaching impact for education leaders and managers who aren’t prepared.

“The DfE makes it clear that children have to be safeguarded from potentially harmful and inappropriate online material.”

“The spotlight – and responsibility – is on governing bodies and proprietors to ensure that not only is appropriate web filtering in place but also the correct monitoring.”

Schools are being urged to do all that they reasonably can to limit a child’s exposure to online harm, with the appropriate filters and monitoring systems in place.

Stephen added: “There will be no safety net, so schools must review their IT systems now to ensure compliance with the regulations and create a safer online environment for their pupils.

“Failure to do so, made even more pressing with NGfL’s closure, could not only be costly but also have consequences that will be felt now and long into the future.”

Advantex will be holding an education technology workshop on February 8, at Hardwick Hall featuring expert speakers.

Anyone interested in attending or for more information should contact Rachel Dixon, marketing manager, via email Rachel.Dixon@advantex.uk.com or call 0191 481 3730.