Safer Technologies for Schools (ST4S)
Software and other technology plays a vital role in the daily operations of schools and kura, as well as improving education outcomes for students. But when selecting technology, it can be hard to know if it comes with any security or privacy risks.
The Ministry of Education has joined an initiative called Safer Technologies for Schools (ST4S) to help take some of the guesswork out of choosing technology for your school or kura.
- What is ST4S?
- How ST4S works
- How do schools access ST4S reports?
- Who is doing the checks?
- Help us to identify software products that need ST4S assessment
- More information
When choosing software products to use in your school or kura, it can be hard to know where to find impartial advice. ST4S provides an overview of digital products for use in schools and kura and offers guidance on whether these products meet privacy and security standards.
ST4S provides a catalogue of reports on commonly used school software, which have been assessed against a set of security and privacy standards. The reports identify any risks associated with requirements that are not fully met and advise as to how these might be mitigated. Products that have a ‘low risk’ or ‘medium risk’ outcome can apply for an ST4S badge to show on their website. These companies commit to regularly confirming they are compliant with critical security and privacy standards.
Based on the information in the reports, your school or kura can consider any privacy or security risks and make an informed decision with the software you choose.
For more information, check out the ST4S website(external link).
Software suppliers complete an ST4S self-assessment, where they answer a range of security and privacy questions about how their product manages, stores and protects the data it holds. The answers to the questions will provide insights into security controls that typically isn’t easy to find out from looking at a provider’s website.
The responses to these questions are assessed against criteria and given a rating. These reports are available to staff in state and state-integrated schools. Because of the commercial nature of the reports, this information is shared in confidence.
The ST4S assessment provides information on what types of personal information is collected through the product. When selecting software, we recommend viewing the vendor’s privacy statement to make your own assessment as to whether these are appropriate in your context.
The reports and ratings provided are to support schools make informed decisions about technology. They do not imply endorsement of any products by the Ministry.
ST4S assessment reports are available for authorised staff in state and state-integrated schools and kura to access via Education Sector Logon (ESL) on the Taku Education website(external link).
If you have an ESL account, you will need to contact your Delegated Authoriser (DA) to request the ‘IT & Cyber’ role found under the ‘Cyber Security Resources’ field in your ESL account.
If you do not have an ESL account, your DA can create an ESL account for you with the ‘IT & Cyber’ role. More information about ESL can be found on the Applications website(external link) or contact the Education Service desk on 0800 422 599 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
An alternative method to access the ST4S reports is required for private schools. Please email email@example.com for more information.
A list of ST4S badged products is available on the ST4S website(external link), and more are being added as they complete the badging process. Older ST4S reports were created for an Australian context (indicated with “AU” in the Recognised Countries column). As such, while they provide an indication of the privacy and security protections, these may not necessarily apply fully to New Zealand schools and kura. We are working with ST4S and suppliers to get these reports updated for recognition in New Zealand.
ST4S is managed by Education Services Australia (ESA) on behalf of participating education jurisdictions including the NZ Ministry of Education.
If you are considering purchasing software or currently use software that does not have an ST4S badge, contact us to register your interest in that software. We are working with EdTech suppliers to participate in the ST4S assessment process but need your help to identify and prioritise products. You can contact our team at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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