Education blog - NetSupport DNA

Spotlight on safeguarding
12/18/2018 2:36:00 PM

As the Christmas break approaches, it's a good time for schools to revisit their eSafety provision just to check that they're doing all they can to safeguard their students as they use school technology in line with official guidance from the Department for Education and Ofsted. 

For those schools already using NetSupport DNA, here's a run-down of features to consider if you're not yet using them as part of your eSafety strategy…  


Protecting students

Age-appropriate internet control
As required by the Prevent Duty and KCSiE guidance, schools need to have appropriate levels of internet metering in place. Allowing schools to apply specific profiles of settings to different departments or year groups means that age-appropriate internet access can ensured for each class. NetSupport DNA allows staff to apply multiple lists of approved and restricted websites to different year groups, ensuring that students are prevented from accessing anything inappropriate.

Keyword and Phrase monitoring
Recognising when a student is at risk is so important and, until very recently, staff had no way of identifying when any student was potentially in trouble. When we say "at risk" this covers all sorts of eventualities. For example, a student struggling with body image issues may be researching diet pills or how to make themselves sick, or, someone else may be trying to find out more about drugs and how to use them. NetSupport DNA provides this insight for one reason only: to safeguard students.  

The media has previously published stories about students who have been radicalised – and this feature has the potential to raise a red flag if this begins to happen at school. But it is the school's decision whether to send any data it has on this issue to any other organisation; nothing is automatically sent outside the school because all the data DNA collects is held locally: within the school's LAN, which can't be accessed from the outside.

Schools can set individual severity levels for any keywords or phrases triggered by students, which control the outcome on matching the triggered keyword to an action: from a simple logging of the event, through to capturing an image of the user via the webcam (which, by default, is turned off), or a screenshot, or a 60-second screen video recording of the user’s activity when triggered - so that safeguarding staff know the full background to the event. 

How does the webcam capture work?
A common feature across most solutions in the sector, this is used where a child on a shared school PC, (for example, in the library) triggers words or terms that may indicate an imminent risk of, let's say, suicide – and where staff need to know quickly which child they need to talk to. Without capturing who was at the PC, and without a unique login ID to refer to, this would be impossible.

How does the screen video recording work?
Any screen video recording made is only viewable within the school by a designated safeguarding member of staff using DNA. Much like a CCTV system that has a rolling hard disk, there is a rolling 60 second capture of screen which is only held in the system memory on the student's PC and is not committed to file unless the keyword is triggered. Therefore there is no footage generally visible to anybody and it's automatically deleted as it goes round in an encrypted form.

And only if a critical keyword is triggered, would that then be converted into a viewable file. This means at no point does the system contain anything more than 60 seconds of raw footage. 

Empowering students

Report a concern
Modern lives are complicated and, as we know, the level of mental health concerns among children are increasing year on year. So ensuring that pupils have an outlet for disclosing any worries they may have in the safe environment of school is so important. 

Students can report their concerns in confidence to a trusted member of staff via the Report a Concern option of DNA – and they can send a message, screenshot or document to a chosen trusted teacher to illustrate it. That teacher is instantly alerted when the concern is raised and can then track it and record any follow-up actions. 

Senior staff and safeguarding leads at the school can be assigned rights to view all concerns raised and, to ensure all calls for help are heard, will be alerted if any concern is not actioned within a pre-defined period of time. 

About NetSupport DNA
As NetSupport DNA is a local LAN-based tool, this means all of the safeguarding data is stored securely on the school network (only the school can access it); it's not in the cloud or on servers managed by NetSupport. In addition, a student PC at home has no means of communicating with or from school devices and teachers do not have the ability to interact with student devices at home.  

We go to great lengths to help provide the tools for schools to operate according to best practice, while making sure we comply with the General Data Protection Regulation on collecting, storing and sharing data. We've also worked with the Internet Watch Foundation, leading charities, Local Authorities, Safeguarding Leads, schools and students to create a comprehensive safeguarding suite that meets schools' safety requirements. 

So, if you're looking to enhance your eSafety provision next term, it's a good time to take a closer look at these features.


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