Online Security, Child Safeguarding, and the Data Protection Act

Atomwide and its core service delivery partners, Virgin Media Business and Fronter, take security extremely seriously with regard to all aspects of the services provided in the format of broadband education service.

In order to operate the most robust, sustainable, and scalable hierarchy of user security and identity management across schools, Atomwide has operated for many years within a wider organisational structure assisted by key LA officers and senior Local Authority Advisors (or their commercial sector partner equivalents where LA services have been outsourced), all typically holding the status of Super User or Power User within the USO that underpins all LA services. To obtain this position, LA officers will have been appointed by the Local Authority’s  key contractual contact.

Within schools and similar individual establishments, this status is replaced with the local role of Nominated Contact, authorised for appointment, without exception, by the school’s Head Teacher (or equivalent for non-school establishments).

Nominated Contacts are the vital, recognised and authorised ‘conduit’ for communication, support and action between Atomwide and the school. They can be nominated by any in-post Head Teacher whose role can itself be verified by a combination of the school’s up to date DfE EduBase entry, Local Authority officer-sourced information, or in some cases, practical supporting evidence from the school.

The validation of the Head Teacher’s identity is taken very seriously by Atomwide, since we recognise their role as the school’s Data Controller in the eyes of the law, and also the person on whom responsibility ultimately rests should any breach of security result in the unauthorised release of sensitive, perhaps child-specific, personal, geographical, or status-related data pertaining to USO account holders.

Accordingly, no facility is offered for any person not previously authorised to communicate with the Atomwide USO Help Desk on any school or user-specific matter. The only exception to this is reserved for communications with law enforcement officers acting with appropriate authority.

Schools not wishing to have their service provision in any way governed or influenced by LA officers or policy, can arrange this by issuing an instruction by the Head Teacher via a support case on the support site, at which point appropriate changes to the governance process will be made for that school.  Due to the significance of Head Teacher’s responsibility in a number of key areas relating to data protection and service management, no opportunity is provided for the Head Teacher’s role and responsibility to be over-ridden or otherwise bypassed by another party.

Atomwide greatly appreciate the ongoing support for this strategy by Local Authority ‘leads’, support staff, school Head Teachers, education-associated establishment Managers, and school staff in general, as well as third-party commercial partners employed under the direction of schools and Councils. We appreciate that urgency can spawn frustration, and so are all the more grateful to those users that respect the structures put in place to ensure the safety of information, user identities, and ultimately the children, students and staff that Atomwide exists to serve.

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