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?

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 are given 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).

How ST4S works

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.

How do schools access ST4S reports?

A list of ST4S badged products is available on the ST4S website(external link). Later in 2023, we expect to provide self-service access to ST4S reports. As an interim step, we are able to provide ST4S reports available to state and state-integrated schools on request.

The reports currently available in ST4S have been created for an Australian context. As such, while they provide an indication of the privacy and security protections for specific products, these protections may not necessarily apply fully to New Zealand customers. We are working with ST4S and suppliers to extend the protections to NZ schools, and this will be indicated on the ST4S website as this work progresses.

Schools and kura are able to request access to ST4S reports by contacting us at:

Who is doing the checks?

ST4S is managed by Education Services Australia (ESA) on behalf of participating education jurisdictions including the NZ Ministry of Education.

Who has been assessed?

Software that has been assessed since 2020, and has a low-risk or medium-risk outcome, can display a badge on their products. There is a list of badged products on the ST4S website, and more are being added as they complete the badging process.

List of badged products(external link)

Help us to identify software products that need ST4S assessment

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:

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