Andrea BradleyAndrea Bradley: expert investigatorThere's a new e-sheriff in town. E-safe education, runner up in the E-Safety category of the BETT 2009 awards, joined forces with Zentek Forensics Ltd earlier this year to launch what it boldly claims is the UK’s first and (currently) only comprehensive e-safety managed service for schools and local authorities. And today it launches its new Be-Safe program at the annual National Children and Adults Services (NCAS) conference in Harrogate.

Be-Safe uses the company’s own pornography and extreme image management technology to detect inappropriate material on computer networks and is delivered in three parts.

The initial stage of what the company describes as a holistic rather than “rifle shot” approach, is an in-depth forensic review provided by Zentek for a "nominal fee with the remaining cost underwritten by e-safe education". Highly trained forensic monitoring experts under the watchful eye of managing director Andrea Bradley, an ex-special crimes investigator with 13 years of crime fighting experience under her belt, will examine the ICT systems in a cross-section of locations across the local authority and record anything outside an institution’s acceptable use policy (AUP).

Being able to detect images originating from any location or device including digital cameras, mobile phones, CDs, DVDs and memory sticks, means Be-safe can help authorities extend their e-safety policy while still promoting responsible use of ICT.

“To properly protect children, it is imperative that every professional working in children’s services is equipped with a thorough understanding of the e-safety issues faced by each local authority,” says Andrea Bradley. “A thorough forensic review will enable LAs to create better policies and identify where education efforts need to be focused in order to resolve e-safety issues.” Current e-safety levels across the local authority and any areas for improvement will be highlighted in the report that follows.

After this review phase LAs will have the pick of a range of services provided by e-safe education as part of the package. These range from senior leadership training programmes to e-safety workshops that have been developed over four years and trialled with more than 300 senior leaders according to Mark Donkersley, e-safe education’s managing director. The five training topics include “Successful safeguarding via ICT including the components for a positive safety strategy and Ofsted compliance” and “Protocols to make e-safety pervasive within Teaching and Learning”.

In a policy that is designed to free up teachers and local authority staff to focus on appropriate intervention, schools signed up to the Be-safe program will see the entire operational burden and legal risks involved in monitoring ICT pass from the local authority to e-safe education, says the company.

Mark Donkersley stresses that e-safety is at the heart of everything they do. But he wants it known that the program is not about giving weight to the doom and gloom about the dangers of the internet. He advocates trust as the better side of human nature.

“It is looking at the digital environment as a whole in the way you and I might use our computers, cameras and pen drives to move material around, present documents, copy things," he says. "It is to give everyone involved in the support of children and young people the opportunity to get a measure of how well their e-safety initiatives are working and indicate where it might be fine tuned. Predator grooming is not what we are about, but it might be something that could come out of it."

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