The internet provides innumerable opportunities for children to learn, opportunities that were not available to previous generations. Children are tech savvy and curious but while it is critical that we allow them to access the power of the internet, we must first ensure that they can explore safely.

Safer Internet Day  sees children across the country exploring how to use the internet kindly and safely, as they interact with others online. There are lots of great primary and secondary free resources on internet safety to use with your pupils but the day also presents an opportunity to think about how you can use the internet to accelerate your pupils’ learning, safely.

Online tuition should not be any different

We passionately believe in the advantages of one-to-one online tuition in primary schools, provided it’s structured, focused on your curriculum, and supports the work being done in class. It provides access to a global teaching community that can support your pupils but inevitably some school leaders and questions have questions regarding safeguarding. For us, it’s a top priority, so as people with a fair amount of expertise in this area, we’ve drawn up a list of questions you should be asking to ensure that your pupils are safeguarded during any sort of online tuition.

1. Who will be providing the tuition?

Tutors should not only be qualified to teach but you also need assurance that they are suitable characters to be teaching your pupils. Our tutors have DBS equivalents in their respective countries, as do the staff that support them in their respective offices.

2. What is the online classroom that tutors and pupils will be using?

You need to be clear as to how your pupil and their tutor will be interacting online. Are they using Skype? Are they using an online chat room?  Our classroom is a private 1-2-1 space and every lesson is recorded for the safety of our pupils and tutors.

3. Who do I go to if I have a concern?

You need a clear point of contact to go to if you have concerns about any element of the tuition. This could be academic but crucially, you need a person to speak to if you have any concerns about the safety of your pupils. At Third Space we have dedicated Academic Managers for each school who are the direct point of contact for teachers.

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4. What about data security?

We all know that a well-planned lesson requires knowledge of the pupils that we are teaching but equally you need assurance that the data you provide is being stored securely.

All Third Space data is held in a physically secure building in Dublin, Ireland. (Not even we know it’s address!) When accessing the data our computers only let users see a portion of it, like a window only shows you a small view of the world so the tutors, teachers and other Third Space staff can only see a specific set of data. (Even the tutors can’t see the pupil’s full name, and know them only as ‘Timmy M’.) Finally, all data is stored behind digital locks whose keys are held by our own trusted IT professionals, so it can’t be shared outside the company.

5. Are the tutors trained in safeguarding?

Tutors should have a clear understanding of their safeguarding responsibility. As a pupil builds a rapport with their tutor the medium of online tuition at times becomes a space that pupils will share things that are concerning them day-to-day. They could be really negative about their academic ability or may be unhappy at home and it is important for you as a teacher to know this. Our tutors are trained to identify and report safeguarding concerns and our Academic Managers will get in touch with a school immediately following these reports.

Performed correctly, online tuition should be safe and transparent, leaving you feeling as secure as having face-to-face tuition in the school. At Third Space we are really excited about how the internet is transforming the lives of children across the world and we hope Safer Internet Day 2016 is a useful opportunity for you to support your pupils in safely using such a powerful tool.

Running your own Maths interventions? Read our Intervention Checklist blog to check it’s up to scratch. It could save you time, resources, and expensive mistakes! 

David Leighton , Content Team , Third Space Learning

A former secondary teacher, David keeps a weather eye on the educational horizon. He's responsible for making sure our blog posts and Maths resources reach teachers far & wide.