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Remember that all teaching has safeguarding implications, which is why safeguarding policies and training exist. Online teaching is no different, and it is entirely possible to adapt good safeguarding practice to online teaching.

The following advice applies to all online teaching, whether you are self-employed or an employed teacher.

Creating an online teaching policy

Employed teachers will also need to ensure that they are following their employer’s guidance, and they should request this if it is not forthcoming.

Self-employed teachers who are normally based in schools (or who teach for hubs/music services) should inform the school (or hub/music service) that their lessons have moved online and adhere to organisational policy as they would normally.

Self-employed teachers should be clear on their own online teaching policy and communicate this clearly to parents and students. The information given on this page should help self-employed teachers develop such a policy.

Being mindful of your online profiles

Before teaching online, protect yourself from accidental inappropriate contact with your students by restricting your profile on each video calling app you use, so that it does not automatically accept contact requests and cannot be viewed by students. Your user profiles should feature a business-like profile picture.

Encourage your students to restrict their own profiles so that they can only receive calls from known contacts. It may be possible to avoid the need for students to have profiles at all by sending them email invites to a live video call once you have set this up. Either way of working can be made safeguarding compliant.

Staying professional during the call

Establish a serious and professional manner when teaching online. Emphasise to students and their parents that video calling apps are for lessons only and not for other contact, e.g. sharing photos or general messaging.

Dress as you would when teaching face to face. Consider the background that your students will see, and carry out a video check from your camera to see what is visible. A neutral background is best – minimise mess and don’t put anything too personal on display.

It may be necessary to widen the frame depending on your instrument, so take care that the frame is well chosen and appropriate. You may wish to use your chosen app’s blurred background setting.

Do not allow students to wear excessively informal attire or present against a messy background. If this happens, terminate the call and communicate the reason afterwards. The same applies if a student behaves inappropriately, and it may be necessary to take further action if this happens, just as you would with a face-to-face lesson.;

Lesson observations and recordings

Some teachers or employers may ask parents to remain in the room during the lesson as an added precaution, although this may not always be possible or desirable. A better alternative is perhaps for a parent to be nearby. In all cases, parents should be fully informed that online teaching is happening and given information about appropriate practice relating to it.

Teachers or employers may wish to ask parents to sign consent forms. The MU has provided a template contract for online teaching that can be used to clarify that a parent has given consent.

Many video calling apps allow calls to be recorded. The MU normally advises against recording lessons because of the risk of personal data being held indefinitely. However, we recognise that employers, teachers and students will make their own decisions on this.

If you do record lessons, ensure that parents (and your employer if you have one) have consented to the recording being made, and try to record audio only. Teachers can delete their own copies of recordings if these are made for the benefit of students.

Some employers may wish to record sample lessons for observation purposes, and should communicate their policy clearly to their employee teachers if so.

If you have a further query about teaching online, get in touch with your Regional Office.

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