June 2017

The know zone

  • Click, connect… take care
    Social media is meant to be fun and informative as well as a useful networking tool, but we should also be wise to its pitfalls. Here, Sally Jack provides top tips on managing your online reputation. More
  • Back to basic principles
    Revisiting some traditional leadership techniques could help ease the burden on business leaders when their time is under ever-increasing pressure, says Val Andrew. More
  • Where there’s a will…
    Making a will is something we all intend to do but we put off. Solicitor Frances McCarthy explains the importance of making a will before it’s too late. More
  • A path for primary
    Government proposals on primary assessment offer some potential solutions to flaws in the system, although challenges remain, says Julie McCulloch. More
  • Leaders' surgery
    Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting. More
  • Action plans
    Curriculum and assessment reform, together with a new grading system, have put enormous pressure on leaders to ensure that their school or college communities understand the changes. Here ASCL members share their views on what steps they have taken to ensure that everyone is on board. More
  • A radical approach
    Extreme Dialogue is an education project that works to build resilience to radicalisation among young people through a series of free educational resources and highly engaging short films. More
  • Give us a clue!
    The new Progress 8 measures were meant to improve accountability but, according to one Deputy Head, schools have found them something of a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. More
Bookmark and Share

Social media is meant to be fun and informative as well as a useful networking tool, but we should also be wise to its pitfalls. Here, Sally Jack provides top tips on managing your online reputation.

Click, connect…take care

As mobile devices become increasingly intuitive and responsive, sharing information online is now dangerously easy. An innocent seeming comment or image on your personal profile can be (and often is) misconstrued, with potentially devastating repercussions for your professional reputation (and that could include disciplinary hearings, suspension and even a criminal record).

There is a perception that social media is the preserve of the ‘young’. However, the stats say otherwise: 73% of UK internet users have a social media profile and 63% of these are adults. Additionally, 95% of UK internet users use Facebook with 84% of those using Facebook as their main platform. (Ofcom survey (Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes, April 2016) https://tinyurl.com/kzs4nld

As senior leaders, you are already acutely aware of the online dangers faced by children and young people, with schools and colleges helping students steer a course through the internet’s murkier waters. 

But what about your own digital footprint? Do you know what information about yourself is already out there, and who can access it? Also, what do you post, and to whom? No one is suggesting you can’t be yourself online, or that you are always on duty, but it is worth taking the time to review your online presence – and take precautions. 

When it comes to good online practice, bear in mind that 47% of employers check an individual’s online profile during the recruitment process, and 41% have stated ‘online reputation’ as a reason not to recruit (figure from www.saferinternet.org.uk). 

What’s online about you now? 

Give your digital footprint a health check: 

  • Regularly review your online profile: type your name into Google and other search engines and assess the results. 
  • Any information you wish to be removed, first check if this can be rectified via the platform’s account settings, or contact the site administrator and request its removal.
  • Information that Google will remove, and how to request this, is available here: https://tinyurl.com/mdwa4ky Other search engines should also provide this information in their help or support sections. 

Protect your profile 

  • Amend your social media platform passwords regularly, and make sure they aren’t easy to guess.
  • If you stop using a platform or website, deactivate or delete the account. It can then no longer be found, and this also guards against the account being hacked.
  • Review the security settings on your social media accounts: the default setting on many is ‘public’, which makes finding you easy, particularly for determined students.
  • Keep antivirus and software programs up to date: older software is more vulnerable to attack. 

Focus on Facebook 

As the highest volume of internet users in the UK use this platform, there are some additional points to consider:

  • Click Settings/Privacy on the top right-hand side of your Facebook page.
  • Review and edit the three options: ‘Who can see my stuff’, ‘Who can contact me?’ and ‘Who can look me up?’
  • Further guidance is available here: https://en-gb.facebook.com/help/325807937506242/

Images on Facebook 

Consider sorting images into separate albums and setting controls per album depending on who you are happy to see them. For example, general holiday pictures may be viewable to everyone, whereas photos with family members could be ‘friends only’. Security advice for other popular social media platforms can be found in their help and support sections. 

Social media mantra

Keep this social media mantra in mind before you commit ‘comment to keyboard’: 

  • Think twice, post once (or not at all): re-read your post, could it be open to misinterpretation?
  • Never post, tweet or email in anger: would you be happy with your comment remaining online … forever? Your views may also be shared by your friends to their own networks, over which you have no control.
  • Keep professional boundaries up: avoid interacting with, initiating contact with or becoming friends with current students via your personal profile. If they ask questions online, speak to them in person at school or college.
  • Don’t forget the day job: ideally, school or college related conversations and photos should stick to teaching and learning. You may believe you are keeping your comments strictly between Facebook friends, but do you know who your friends are friends with?
  • Is it yours to post? Be aware of copyrighted material and whether you have the right to post this content.