KCSIE 2022 - Maintaining a Healthy Online Social Media Profile
As Keeping children safe in education 2022 follows the corporate world by directing schools and colleges to carry out online searches as part of their due diligence process in the recruitment for shortlisted candidates, you should be aware of how your social media use may impact on prospective job applications and current employment.
The majority of people probably feel they use social media sensibly however it is important to be reflective, take a step back and consider if there is anything in your internet and social media use that may negatively impact on your career opportunities.
As a result of KCSIE 2022 requirements, if your school / college didn’t have an ICT Acceptable Use Agreement in place before, they will have one in place by 1st September 2022. This document not only covers how assigned technology such as laptops, tablets and phones should be used, it will also include details of expected internet and social media behaviour. You should be aware that a failure to meet the acceptable conduct specified in your organisation’s ICT Acceptable Use Agreement and also inappropriate postings related to your personal life, may result in far reaching consequences. They may even be deemed as grounds for dismissal.
How can ensure my social media profile is appropriate?
Here’s my 10 top tips:
- If you have both personal accounts and professional accounts on social media platforms, keep the content separate i.e. only share personal info on your personal threads & business related info on your professional thread. It really isn’t advisable to have details of a riotous night out on your professional platform accounts! This will also mean you can tailor access to who sees your posts. For example, you may make your professional account public but limit your personal account to friends and relations. This can be done simply, by selecting the appropriate privacy setting.
- Never like or comment on public posts made by pupils. Such action may be deemed as a breach of professional boundaries. In fact, with my safeguarding hat on, I wouldn’t advise liking or commenting on any school age children’s posts. Also in general, please take care when liking or retweeting any posts. These actions are often perceived by others as endorsements of the original posts, whether that is the case or not.
Beware of the Friday night rant! I've said Friday but of course this applies at all times. I recently saw a public tweet by a teacher which said: “so happy to have left the most toxic school I’ve ever had the displeasure to work in - mushroom management!” and which led to a barrage of negative, quite abusive comments about the organisation and the staff who worked there.
Not a great trail to have on your feed for everyone to see! So, tempting as it may be to vent, before posting anything, take a moment to consider if:
- Your response is appropriate and not offensive;
- If the content could be misconstrued;
- You really think the post is wise!
It's not just about the content you share. Regularly monitor others people's posts where you are tagged e.g. by the Facebook tag review function, or where comments identify you. If they're inappropriate or you'd prefer not to be included ask the originator to take them down.
- Check your history - is there anything you’d prefer your employer not to see? I take you back to my riotous night out example! Do a quick audit check and clear out anything you’re not happy for the public, including prospective or current employers, to see.
- Be aware of breaking confidentiality. Never discuss current or former colleagues or pupils, even if you try to anonymise them in your posts. You might not name individuals by describing an incident or circumstance but be aware that these general details described in your posts may enable followers to identify the subjects.
- If you post to intentionally antagonise someone, if it’s inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive, then this is trolling. It doesn’t matter if your seeking revenge or doing it for your personal amusement, deliberately provoking someone or an organisation by this type of commenting or posting any other disruptive content is trolling, an absolute no, no. Trolling is a form of online harassment, no matter what the circumstances, don’t do it!
- Beware of befriending current and/or former pupils. This takes us right back to the ICT Acceptable Use Agreement. Your school or college will have set rules about the permissible mediums for staff to contact pupils. In most cases, they will specifically prohibit staff social media contact with pupils as:
- It is seen as blurring the lines between professional contact and personal contact;
- In most cases that involve any action by teaching regulators, such access is almost always deemed as professional misconduct. Social media contact with former pupils may also be problematic and many schools and colleges also prohibit this. So the bottom line is: Check and adhere to what is permissible within your organisation’s ICT Acceptable Use Agreement;
- If in doubt, safeguard yourself - don't do it.
- Remember, when you post publicly online, it’s out there. Whilst there are ways to remove internet content, it will have been public and you have no way of knowing who still has this content. Simply removing information from your social media feeds provides no guarantee that the content is permanently gone. All it takes is 1 screen shot…
Be very careful about what you post online about other people or organisations. Again, once posted you have very little control of how such posts may be used.
Even worse, posts may be deemed ‘defamatory’ if proven false and subject to legal action.
Now we started this by focussing on KCSIE 2022 and the possible implication your social media usage may have in respect of your current or prospective employment. However, my final tip is to also:
- Be aware that other bodies may also access your social media / online profile, which may result in very serious consequences. For example, where there is perceived social media misuse, professional regulatory bodies such as the Teaching Regulatory Agency, the Education Workforce Council and General Teaching Council for Scotland may instigate legal proceedings, and this could ultimately result in a person being prohibited from teaching. Where such misuse is perceived to be a safeguarding issue, referral will also be made to the Disclosure and Barring Service and may also result in your name being placed on the Barred Lists. In such cases you would be barred from working with children and / or vulnerable adults. Ultimately, if your action may potentially amount to a criminal offence, even if not proven, damaging information may be still included on your enhanced disclosure certificate.
So whilst having a social media online presence offers a wealth of positive opportunities, it’s essential to keep my top 10 tips in mind and connect with others safely.
SSS Learning Safeguarding Director