Digital technology: Safe and responsible use in schools

This guide provides principals and teachers with the information to act confidently and in the best interests of students with regard to digital technology. 

Incident response

  • Planning and preparedness
    • Even the most effective prevention programme will not eliminate the risk of an incident occurring. It is critical that, as part of their prevention work, schools have a response plan in place before an incident occurs.

      Prevention and incident response activities are linked. It is recommended that schools explicitly consider how their incident response plan complements their prevention work and vice versa.

  • Incident response objectives
    • Keeping safe and minimising harm

      When responding to an incident, effective policies and processes will:

      • minimise student distress or harm
      • maintain student and staff safety.

      Maintaining student safety and professional integrity are directly linked

      How a teacher’s actual, perceived or implied actions may be viewed later from an ethical or legal perspective is important in terms of maintaining their professional integrity whilst ensuring the safety of students.

      Policies and professional practice should reflect an understanding of the special characteristics of digital technology and information. The general principle is that teachers and authorised staff act in a way that maintains the integrity of digital devices and the information stored on them i.e. to eliminate any possibility that changes can be made to the device or the information stored on it.

      Focus more on behaviour, less on digital technology

      The general principle is to focus more on the behaviour involved in an incident and less on the digital technology. Schools are not expected to be digital forensics experts and should use all other avenues of inquiry that are open to them. For example, as on and offline behaviours are closely related there is a high probability that a student who has been the target of online harassment will know the identity of the perpetrator. They are also likely to be experiencing offline, real world, harassment from the same person.