There is a wide range of support available for colleges and other further education providers to assist in the transition from classroom-based to virtual learning. Even where education is provided remotely however, colleges are still bound by their obligations to safeguard students and to comply with the statutory guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education as appropriate.
The available guidance of course reflects a “business as usual” scenario and should be implemented in full with respect to those in attendance. Colleges must still however ensure to apply their obligations to students who are learning remotely however. For example, colleges should consider:
- Reviewing and revising their child protection policy to ensure that students who are learning remotely are adequately protected. For instance, consideration should also be given to any risks arising from the format of the remote provision to minimise the risks of students being visible to others, or to ensure closed networks are used to ensure that unsuitable individuals are not able to contact pupils through the education platforms used.
- Ensuring that designated safeguarding leads are contactable remotely and receive enough information to allow them to carry out their duties effectively.
- Ensuring that online teaching and learning (be this by way of online “live” webinars or pre-recorded sessions, for example) is suitable. For instance, resources should be age and content appropriate, respect the privacy of the students and their families at home, and reflect the student cohort and the needs of any vulnerable students (including those with SEND). Consideration should be given to alternative options for pupils whose situations make joining certain types of lesson difficult, or whose learning needs are incompatible with this type of provision.
The Department for Education has produced detailed guidance on key safeguarding considerations for colleges and other education providers, and is available here. In addition, for further information please see our detailed guidance for schools, which also applies to colleges.