Live-streaming and video-conferencing: safeguarding principles and practice
This guidance was originally published in May 2020 entitled Live-streaming safeguarding principles and practice for education practitioners during the COVID-19 outbreak when most practitioners were working from home. This document formed part of the continuity of learning ‘Stay Safe. Stay Learning.’ programme and is aimed at maintained schools and settings in Wales.
In September 2020 the guidance was updated and re-published to reflect instances where practitioners and learners are back in the classroom. However, it still retains guidance on working and learning from a home environment. It has also been extended to include guidance for other practitioners and external organisations that support maintained schools and settings and their learners.
In January 2021, the guidance was further updated and re-published to take account of feedback from schools and local authorities. The section which had previously outlined the numbers of practitioners required for live-streaming was removed to allow for local flexibility and decision-making. In developing their approach to live-streaming and video-conferencing, schools must undertake a risk assessment and review their safeguarding processes and procedures (including reporting mechanisms) to ensure the safety and security of their learners and staff.
Safeguarding is an integral principle of digital learning. The safety and welfare of learners is paramount and takes precedence over all other considerations.
Should a maintained school or setting choose to use live-streaming or video-conferencing, governing bodies, headteachers and staff must have full regard to national safeguarding guidance and local safeguarding policies.
In a time where it has never been more important to adapt and use innovative ways to learn, Wales is now well placed to deliver a world-class digital learning programme having invested heavily in digital learning since 2012.
Through Hwb, the digital learning platform for Wales, learners and practitioners from maintained schools and settings have access to a range of online learning tools such as Microsoft Teams in Microsoft Office 365 and Google Meet in G-Suite for Education. Using these applications through Hwb can provide an interactive experience and an opportunity to collaborate and engage in a safe and accessible way. There are new practical guides available to support you on getting started and using Microsoft Teams and Google Meet in our Support Centre. For more information on the range of tools available through Hwb and how they can support digital learning please refer to the Blended learning area on Hwb.
This guidance provides information on how video-conferencing and live-streaming can be used safely and securely.
This guidance is also of use to other practitioners such as therapists, educational psychologists, special educational needs coordinators (SENCo)/additional learning needs coordinators (ALNCo), support assistants and teaching assistants, youth workers, youth support staff, learning advisory staff that support learners and peripatetic services.
- Decision-making at a maintained school or setting level may determine whether video-conferencing or live-streaming is appropriate for you to host lessons with your learners.
- Maintained schools and settings using video-conferencing or live-streaming, governing bodies, headteachers and staff must have full regard to national safeguarding guidance and local safeguarding policies.
- In all maintained schools and settings, all accountability is owned by the headteacher and governing body or equivalents. Therefore this guidance must be observed alongside local authority guidance.
- The Welsh Government recommends that:
- all video-conferencing or live-streamed lessons/sessions should be carried out via Hwb using Microsoft Teams or Google Meet, rather than an external provider, or the school/setting’s own implementation of Google/ Microsoft 365
- the practitioner uses a school/setting-issued device. School or setting staff should not use their own personal equipment under any circumstances
- due regard should be given to the considerations outlined in this guidance to ensure learners and all practitioners are appropriately protected and safeguarded.
The differences between video-conferencing and live-streaming events
It is useful to note the difference between video-conferencing and live-streaming and their uses and intended benefits so that you can choose the appropriate format for your activity.
What is video-conferencing?
Video-conferencing is a synchronous approach involving multiple parties with the option for each participant to turn on cameras and audio. It requires all participants to take part at the same time. Video-conferencing can be carried out through Hwb using Google Meet or a Microsoft Teams Meeting.
- Facilitate staff meetings.
- Where a physical meeting cannot be held such as conducting a well-being catch-up session or holding a SEN/ALN appointment.
- Deliver small group pastoral or teaching sessions.
- Deliver class lessons.
- Link two sites of synchronous learning, for example, two classrooms on different sites.
- Gives participants an opportunity for face-to-face contact in real time.
- Facilitates interactions.
- Positive impacts on learner engagement and well-being.
- Useful for keeping in contact with learners.
- Feedback to learners is instant and interactive.
- Useful in areas where access to particular courses or subjects is limited for geographical reasons.
- Enables individualised support.
- Can be used to enable children and young people to keep in contact with their peer learners and engage in group learning, for example, discussions.
What is live-streaming?
Live-streaming events is an asynchronous approach involving a video flow from a broadcaster to viewers. Viewers cannot be seen or heard although there may be functionality to interact via typed messages. Live-streamed events can be watched live or can be accessed after it’s been recorded. Live-streaming can be carried out on Hwb using Microsoft Teams Live Events.
- Deliver class lessons to learners.
- Deliver large-scale lectures or assemblies.
- Deliver webinars.
- Live-streamed events offer flexibility as the lessons can be accessed at a time convenient to a learner and/or their family.
- It might be easier for parents/carers and learners to manage at home.
- Although there is no verbal or visual interaction available to the viewer, if watching live, participants may be able to ask questions using the text box allowing for some interaction.
The differences between lessons and sessions
This guidance refers to video-conferencing and live-streaming lessons and sessions. For the purpose of this guidance:
- a lesson refers to the delivery of a classroom lesson – whether this is through video-conferencing or through a live-streamed event
- a session refers to instances outside of a typical lesson where there may be only one learner present such as a well-being catch-up session with a learner or a special educational need (SEN)/additional learning need (ALN) appointment.
Please note the term learner is used throughout the document to describe children and young people in lesson and/or session situations.
Key principles – safeguarding at the core
- Whether learners are at home or in the classroom, safeguarding and welfare of learners is paramount and takes precedence over all other considerations.
- At all times you should continue to follow the school or setting safeguarding policies. All issues relating to online safeguarding should be dealt with in the same way as face-to-face teaching or interactions.
- The maintained school/setting’s policies for online safety, staff and learner well-being, safeguarding and distance learning, should reflect how video-conferencing and live-streaming will be carried out and monitored. The 360 degree safe Cymru tool is available free on Hwb and is intended to help schools and settings review their online safety policy and practice.
- Policies and procedures for reporting incidents of misuse must be followed at all times. As outlined in the Keeping learners safe guidance, practitioners have a duty to report children at risk (including online abuse) under section 130 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.
- If you have any safeguarding concerns about a child, you should discuss these with the Designated Safeguarding Person (DSP) for your school or setting ensuring your concerns are reported as soon as possible.
- If for any reason you cannot contact the Designated Safeguarding Person for your school or setting, contact the local authority Children’s Services Team and report your concerns.
- If you think a child or young person is in immediate danger then contact the police on 999.
- For further advice on safeguarding at this time please visit the Keeping children and young people safe page on the Welsh Government website which provides information and advice on identifying abuse and supporting disclosure and reporting concerns. There are also links to information and resources to support well-being and prevent abuse.
- For further resources, guidance and information on keeping safe online, please visit the Keeping safe online area of Hwb.
Key considerations – safe practice when using video-conferencing and live-streaming
There are a number of key considerations to ensure safe and effective use of video-conferencing and
live-streaming. These are set out below.
To decide whether to use video-conferencing or a
live-streaming event, education and other practitioners must consider:
- the purpose, benefits, limitations and appropriateness of a video-conferencing lesson or live-streaming lesson/session
- the appropriateness for all learners based on their individual circumstances
- the availability of learners, e.g. whether all learners are available? Will some need to join or leave at different times?
- the number of learners on a lesson or session
- the length and time of lessons and sessions, ensuring they are both appropriate for the learners in question
- the connectivity and devices available to learners and staff members.
If it is determined that a video-conferencing or live-streaming lesson/session is suitable and appropriate for the practitioner and learners the following should be undertaken as part of any preparations.
- Seek authorisation from your school or setting’s senior leadership team before video-conferencing or live-streaming lessons/sessions and let them know the planned timetable of all lessons/sessions.
- If you choose to use video-conferencing, ensure the lesson is planned in advance and sufficient notice should be given to learners and parents and carers as required.
- Ensure appropriate use agreements are in place for all learners involved in video-conferencing and live-streaming lessons/sessions and that these agreements are clearly communicated to learners and shared with parents and carers. The agreement will set out clear expectations from all parties and identify actions that will be taken if the agreement is broken. Please refer to the example agreement for use with online classes (Appendix 2).
- Maintain a central record of all online events alongside list of attendees.
- Ensure all learners have access to software applications (such as Microsoft Teams) required, this can be facilitated through the Hwb platform.
- Check all content is appropriate and for any tasks requiring online research, check the suitability of the websites prior to the lesson.
- Be mindful that if the lesson includes tasks, some learners may require more time than others.
- Familiarise yourself with functions of Microsoft Teams or Google Meet and how to use the chosen tool effectively (more information is available in the Hwb Support Centre on Microsoft Teams and Google Meet).
Top tips for effective practice
Gain confidence by becoming familiar with the functions on Google Meet/Microsoft Teams and practicing with other staff members.
Location, camera and audio settings
It is essential to carefully consider location, audio and camera settings to maintain a professional and responsible disposition at all times. This is particularly important when practitioners or learners are at home. Practitioners must undertake the following considerations.
If a practitioner is leading or a learner is joining a video-conferencing call or live-streaming call from home or remotely they should:
- choose a neutral location that is appropriate and safe, e.g. a living room, a study or a kitchen
- encourage learners to work from a suitable communal home location where they feel comfortable, preferably accompanied by their parent/carer
- reduce the possibility of the lesson being interrupted by other household members or pets.
- Carefully consider what is in view of the camera, i.e. check that the background is professional and does not contain images or information that should not be shared or that could be deemed inappropriate.
- It may be helpful to ask a ‘critical friend’ to check what is in view of the camera.
- Where possible, it is recommended that practitioners and learners change their background as standard practice.
- Be mindful that not all learners will want to switch their camera on – you should make turning the camera on optional.
Top tips for effective practice
Practitioners and learners can design and upload their own background in Microsoft Teams. This could be a participatory class activity.
The use of a headset with microphone (like those available with many mobile phones) is recommended for audio clarity.
Practitioners should continue to work in the same professional manner as they would in the classroom. Practitioners should undertake the following.
- Adhere to professional standards of dress when in front of the camera.
- Be conscious that in an online environment remarks are being heard by a number of learners and could be easily misconstrued.
- End the session for all participants, ensuring learners are not left alone and unsupervised in a lesson/session the practitioner has left.
- Be mindful of the need for confidentiality; especially if live-streaming a lesson from a venue where other adults or children are present.
Top tips for effective practice
Practitioners should join the lesson/session before the scheduled time to ensure a proper connection and review the lesson plan so they feel prepared for an effective lesson/session.
Top tips for effective practice
A practitioner can co-pilot by joining the lesson/session but does not have to turn the camera or microphone on.
Recording lessons and sessions - important UK GDPR considerations
There is recording functionality available in both Microsoft Teams and Google Meet whereby the practitioner can record the lesson or session.
As a video-conferencing or live-streaming recording of practitioners and/or learners will contain personal data and possibly special category data, the school’s or setting’s senior management team should develop a policy for recording live lessons and sessions. In developing this policy, advice should be sought from the school’s or setting’s Data Protection Officer (DPO) to ensure that the storing and sharing of any recordings complies with all the requirements of the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR).
This will include setting out the purposes for which the school or setting is processing the data, the legal basis on which they rely as well as respecting the personal data rights of practitioners and learners. More information and guidance is available from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
When recording live lessons, practitioners and learners should comply with their school or setting’s policy for recording live lessons and sessions as well as all other relevant school or setting policies.
Top tip - If you intend on recording a lesson or session to share with learners at a later date, this should be done as a live-streaming event or pre-recorded lesson, without learners present.
For more information and support on recording live lessons please see the Recording section on the Live lessons area on Hwb.
Please note: any recordings must not be used for any teacher-evaluation purpose.
Learner behaviour and etiquette
A ‘classroom standard’ of behaviour should be expected at all times. Just as in a classroom setting, any instances of inappropriate behaviour should be managed in accordance with the school’s behaviour policy.
Setting out acceptable behaviours and expectations from the outset is essential for ensuring an effective and orderly lesson or session. Practitioners should undertake the following.
- Clearly communicate that ‘classroom standard’ of behaviour is expected from all participants at all times.
- Make parents and carers aware of the expected behaviours and requirements including location to join the lesson or session and appropriate dress.
- Create and agree clear ground rules to reflect the standard of behaviour expected based on their existing school or setting behaviour management policy.
- Explain the rules at the introduction of the lesson/session, e.g. who can speak, how to ask a question or ask for help.
- If this is the first time that lessons/sessions are delivered online, it may take some time to become familiar with the new environment. Using the chat function will allow the structured engagement with attendees.
- Remind learners about agreed rules at the start of each lesson or session (Appendix 2), and outline how they can raise concerns if required.
Top tips for effective practice
Consider using the chat, mute/unmute and the hand up/raised hands functions to make the most of the lesson or session.
Top tips for effective practice
Make all of the learners ‘attendees’ and not ‘presenters’. If you ask a learner to share their screen and any work that they do, make them presenters. After they have shown work, etc., change them back to attendees. This helps to control the lesson.
Top tips for effective practice
Create or adapt a class charter with learners as a participatory activity. Children’s rights can provide a basis to develop its key principles, including the rights to:
- be safe
- express an opinion
- equality and non-discrimination
- develop talents and skills to the full.
Learners can develop a list of key video-conferencing behaviours that uphold their rights and the rights of others. This can be referred to throughout the lesson/session.
Using video-conferencing to link up two sites of synchronous learning
There may be instances where a school or setting may wish to make use of the benefits of video-conferencing or live-streaming to link up with another site. Such instances could include the following.
- A school or setting wishes to link up with another classroom in their school or setting to facilitate social distancing.
- A school or setting wishes to link up with learners where some are in school or setting and some are at home.
- A school or setting wishes to link up with other classrooms to facilitate a lesson or session between different year groups, for example to enable the school council or other participatory groups to meet.
In all instances, schools and settings should adhere to the guidance outlined in this document.
There may be occasions where schools or settings wish to video-conference or live-stream with external organisations. For instance to deliver a music lesson with a musician/group of musicians.
These lessons/sessions should be dealt with using the same safeguarding protocols as any other video-conferencing or live-streaming lesson or session as set out in this guidance, and with the additional points also recommended.
- The practitioner should set up and control the session, inviting the external organisation as a guest participant.
- The practitioner should clearly establish expectations and communicate the expectations set out in this guidance to the external provider.
- The practitioner should ensure they end the lesson/session for all when the lesson/session is over.
- Other professionals involved in providing online sessions with learners and/or their families will have been provided with clear guidance from their professional associations and/or employers and should follow these in conjunction with this guidance.
Further support and help
Everyone in education services who comes into contact with children and young people and their families has a role to play in safeguarding. If a practitioner, member of staff or a learner experiences a problem involving video-conferencing or live-streaming you should treat it in the same way as any incident in a school or setting.
If you have any safeguarding concerns about a child, you should discuss these with the Designated Safeguarding Person for your school or setting ensuring your concerns are reported as soon as possible.
If for any reason you cannot contact the Designated Safeguarding Person for your school or setting, contact the local authority Children’s Services Team and report your concerns.
If you think a child or young person is in immediate danger then contact the police on 999.
Appendix 1: Frequently asked questions
What do I do if a learner joins the class from an inappropriate location?
Ideally learners would log into the class from a communal area in their home. In some circumstances this may place an unreasonable burden on family spaces.
Practitioners should assess each situation and discuss with their Designated Safeguarding Person or their headteacher if they are uncomfortable with the location(s) learners are logging in from.
A learner speaks or behaves inappropriately in a video-conferencing or live-streaming lesson/session – how do I react?
All the normal standards of behaviour apply in the online classroom. Although learners will not be in a normal classroom environment, where possible, issues should be dealt with in the same way as they would have been if the incident had taken place in a normal classroom environment. Seek advice from your school or setting’s senior leadership team if required.
A learner shares something inappropriate on their screen – what do I do?
Practitioners can remove learners if they are behaving inappropriately. To remove someone in Microsoft Teams – open the participant list and click the X beside the name of the person you want to remove. To remove someone in Google Meet please follow these instructions.
- On the right, go to People.
- Point to the person, and then click Back arrow.
- Click Remove.
If something inappropriate is shared on the screen, practitioners should end the lesson/session as soon as possible and raise the issue with the Designated Safeguarding Person. All learners in the room can then be contacted as soon as possible after the event to inform them of what happened, and what the arrangements are for future lessons/sessions.
As per safeguarding guidelines, the practitioner must write a full account and record in the usual way.
What do I do if learners log on to the lesson/session dressed inappropriately?
This should be dealt with in the same way as it would be in a face-to-face classroom setting and also in accordance with the agreed rules (Appendix 2). Setting clear expectation at the outset should help reduce this.
A learner asks for a one-to-one online chat about a serious issue that is concerning them. What is the protocol for that?
Supporting a learner must be a priority for the member of staff. Where a learner needs to discuss a serious issue, this can be undertaken in line with the school's safeguarding policy and procedures.
A practitioner sees or hears something during online contact which causes them concern.
If during online contact with a learner a practitioner sees or hears anything in the background that causes them concern, or if the learner’s behaviour causes them concern, they must refer the matter to the Designated Safeguarding Person and follow their school's usual safeguarding policy.
Appendix 2: Example agreement between practitioners and learners
The following is an example agreement between practitioners and learners when using video-conferencing and/or live-streaming. Schools and settings may wish to adapt or build upon this to ensure it is appropriate specifically for their learners, e.g. by adapting the language to make it suitable for their learners age/ability, adding pictures or symbols version for younger children or those with ALN, by using phrasing commitments such as ‘I will’.
Practitioners agree to:
- discuss roles and responsibilities with learners at the outset of all lessons/sessions
- notify the school or setting’s senior management team, learners and parents/carers of any scheduled lessons/sessions, cancelled lessons/sessions or changes in arrangements
- ensure that they keep themselves up-to-date with all relevant policies and procedures, including online safety, safeguarding and data protection policies
- prevent a one-to-one situation at the end of an online class by disconnecting all participants at the close of the lesson/session.
Learners agree to:
- be punctual for all video-conferencing lessons/sessions
- access the relevant files for each lesson/session in advance and have the materials to hand
- make sure they have all power adaptors and laptops ready before the lesson/session begins and are logged into the lesson/session
- show respect for everyone in the online classroom
- dress appropriately for all lessons/sessions, thinking about respect for others
- ensure the location they log in from is appropriate and change their ‘background’ setting as agreed with the practitioner.
- seek to contribute to the lesson/session in a positive manner and not be disruptive at any time
- not share images of the session or lesson.
Appendix 3: Using live-streaming successfully to support distance learning during the COVID-19 outbreak – a case study by Hendredenny School
Developing learners’ digital competence has been an important priority in our school since the publication of the Digital Competence Framework (DCF). We have invested heavily in regard to both time and resources to develop staff training and knowledge in using technology to teach specific ICT skills and to use the available tools to develop effective pedagogy. To this end, all staff make extensive use of the tools within Hwb, particularly Microsoft Office 365 and Google Classroom. Staff worked in triads to develop expertise in how the different tools could be used and shared their knowledge with all staff during twilights and INSET days.
Developing our use of Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom via Hwb
Two years ago, we began to pool our knowledge and develop our ICT policy. Part of this was to agree that we would, via Hwb, use Google Classroom as a platform for learners from Nursery to Year 3 and Microsoft Teams (Teams) with learners in Years 4 to 6.
Preparing for distance learning
When the Education Minister announced school closure from 20 March 2020, our school was well placed to develop distance learning. Learners in Years 4 to 6 were very familiar with Teams. They were used to teachers assigning work on Teams and they were used to posting their homework onto Teams and receiving feedback. Teams was used daily to post work for learners as part of our drive to reduce the amount of paper used and to reduce teacher workload.
In the week leading up the school closures, staff spent much of the time ensuring that the learners were confident in using Teams and Google Classroom. All staff worked together to ensure that we all knew how to set up online remote meetings and video-conferencing using Teams. This was a new skill for us all and we held several practice remote meetings between each of the classrooms, following the guidance emailed to us from Hwb.
Our ICT coordinators produced simple guides for parents/carers on how to use Teams and Google Classroom via Hwb and we explained via newsletters that work would be assigned to the learners each day and that the Key Stage 2 teachers would be online each day from 10am to 12 noon. This was also explained to learners.
Use of live-streaming
Teachers and teaching assistants from Years 4 to 6 used live-streaming via Teams to deliver daily mathematics lessons initially. The lessons were differentiated two ways and the class teacher took one session and the teaching assistant took the other. The school purchased A3 mini white boards for the staff to use to demonstrate methods, etc., but gradually the staff realised that there is a white board built into the Teams platform and they learned how to share screens and use PowerPoint within Teams. The teachers used the ‘Insights’ tab to see which learners were taking part or required extra support as it showed which learners didn’t attend or didn’t access resources.
Next staff also began to live-stream art lessons using PowerPoint presentations that explained particular techniques used in printing, collage and 3D modelling. Spelling lessons were also delivered live as were some English lessons which focused on writing and the features of a particular genre. Teachers in the older year groups were able to set collaborative tasks in science and in geography by putting the learners into groups and assigning them different tasks by using the channel function in Teams. The learners quickly learned how to use the ‘chat’ function to ask for any additional help.
In the case of Year 3, the teacher was online from 10am to 12noon and all parents/carers and learners were invited to speak to her if they wanted any support with the learning tasks she had uploaded that day.
In the case of the Foundation Phase, the staff delivered live story time sessions and live science experiments and invited the children to join live check-in sessions. They were online throughout the day providing advice and responding to parent/carer queries through Hwbmail, through J2e message and through private messaging through Google Classroom.
Throughout the day, Key Stage 2 learners were able to video call both their teacher and their friends within their class. Dedicated ‘friendship channels ‘were set up for each class so they were able to see and speak to their friends remotely. This was as a result of feedback from parents/carers who had said that the children were missing the social aspects of school.
Staff met remotely on a weekly basis via Teams to discuss issues, any new functionality they had discovered, and to ensure a consistency of approach between classes.
When we returned to school on 29 June 2020, staff continued to deliver online lessons between those learners at home and those who were in school that day. All children had a daily ‘check-in’ session, mathematics lesson, stories and played language games. Year 6 learners worked in ‘break-out’ rooms via Teams as part of their daily lessons and they then came back together as a whole class to share what they had learned.
Response and engagement from parents/carers and learners
Response from parents/carers and learners has been overwhelmingly positive. We have encouraged feedback from questionnaires, from direct email contact and phone calls. We addressed as many of the issues parents/carers raised as far as possible, the main one initially was that they did not have suitable devices for their children while parents/carers themselves were working from home.
We loaned 68 devices out and shared videos as well as the email contact of our ‘IT expert’ member of staff to help with technical difficulties. Some lessons were recorded so that parents/carers and learners could revisit them or watch them at more convenient times. Parents/carers often joined in the lesson or were in the background and were able to ask for clarification of expectations, particular methodologies or explanations.
Because we used Teams and Google Classroom it was very easy to see clearly who was engaging in both the live lessons and the other assignments given to the children. Staff were able to ring parents/carers and offer individual support to help them engage with the online learning.
Parents/carers were very grateful that teachers would actually deliver online lessons as many told us that their children were much happier to engage when it was their own teacher or teaching assistant delivering the lesson. Some parents/carers had struggled to get their children learning otherwise.
We discovered that a few children found the idea of being in front of a camera difficult and they were not comfortable speaking out or asking for help in what they felt was a very public forum. The teaching assistant set up small group sessions just for these learners and they were shown how to turn their camera off if they wanted to.
Being able to see their classmates on a daily basis was also a considerable draw for many learners and the learners themselves encouraged each other to join the lessons. There was a real sense of missing out if a learner didn’t join in a lesson especially for the older learners.
We did however have to set ground rules for the children. For example, they had to be dressed (no pyjamas) and boys were to wear tops, they were not to be in their bedrooms and they had to tell parents/carers they were having lessons online. They were taught to mute their microphones and only turn it on when they wanted to speak and to use the ‘hands up’ function if they wanted to talk. A couple of children became excitable online and overfamiliar because they were at home and not in school and they had to be reminded that the rules of politeness still applied. As a last resort, staff had the option of removing anyone not cooperating from the meeting. Happily, this has not been necessary yet!
By June 2020, we had a regular engagement of approx. 92% of learners from Reception to Year 6. Engagement from nursery learners was 60%.