Acceptable Internet Usage Policy

1. Introduction
The Good Shepherd National School recognises the benefits of curriculum-based Internet use. Access to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and developing students’ electronic information research skills are fundamental to preparation for living and working in this information age. The school will integrate such information as appropriate within the curriculum, and staff will provide guidance and instruction to pupils in the appropriate use of such resources, as outlined in this policy.

The purpose of our Internal Acceptable Usage Policy is to ensure that students will benefit from learning opportunities offered by the schools’ Internet resources, and will be protected from harmful and illegal use of the Internet. This Acceptable Usage Policy outlines the guidelines and behaviours that our students are expected to follow when using school ICT technologies for school activities of any nature.

2. Technologies covered
The Good Shepherd N.S. may provide students with internet access, desktop computers, digital imaging equipment, laptop or tablet devices, smart board technology, video-conferencing capabilities, virtual learning environments, online collaboration capabilities, teacher selected discussion forums and more
3. School’s ICT Network
The school’s computer network is intended for educational purposes.

  • All activity over the network may be monitored and retained by the school.
  • Access to online content via the network is restricted in accordance with school policy and the Department of Education & Skills through its agency, the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST).
  • Students are expected to respect that the school’s web filter is a safety precaution, and should not try to circumvent it when browsing the web. If a site is blocked and a student believes it should not be, the student can ask his/her teacher to submit the site for review. This is done via the PDST technology filtering service.
  • Teachers have full editorial rights over the school’s website.
  • Students are expected to follow the same rules for good behaviour and respectful conduct online as offline.
These rules are found in our school’s existing Code of Behaviour.

  • Misuse of school resources may result in disciplinary action.
  • Students must treat all the school’s ICT facilities provided with care. SNA supervision in the computer room will not exceed one-less than half the total number of children in a class.
  • The school will make every reasonable effort to ensure students’ safety and security online, but will not be held responsible for any harm or damage that may result from misuse of the school’s ICT resources.
  • If sending any online communication from a school device, students must not slander, defame or misrepresent the school or the views or activities of another individual.
  • Students are expected to alert his/her teacher immediately of any concerns for safety or security.
4. The School online
Official information about our school will come from the following account: school@goodshepherd.ie. Any information from other social media is not the official voice of the school.

The Good Shepherd N.S. recognises that online collaboration may be educationally useful. Online collaboration will only be allowed under teacher direction. Students are expected to communicate with the same appropriate, safe, mindful and courteous conduct online as offline.
On-Line Learning Platforms

The Board of Management have decided to adopt two on-line learning platforms across the school:

(i). https://app.seesaw.me/ – a secure online journal where students can document and reflect on what they are learning in class. Teachers will assign a minimum of one activity every week for children to complete via Https://app.seesaw.me/ as homework.

(ii). The educational version of Zoom – (in the event of a future school closure)

Zoom uses live interactions between teachers and their class and between teachers and parents at the discretion of individual teachers. See Appendix 1 for more details and Appendix 2 for Permission Letter for Online learning.

5. The School’s own Mobile Devices
The Good Shepherd N.S. may provide students with mobile computers, digital recorders or other devices to promote learning both inside and outside of the school. Students should abide by the same expected usage policies, when using school devices off the school network, as on the school network. Students are expected to treat these devices with respect. They should report any loss, damage, or malfunction to their teacher immediately. Use of school-issued mobile devices will be monitored.

6. Mobile devices in the Possession of Students
Students may not use personally-owned devices in school (e.g. laptops, tablets, iPods, computers, digital-cameras and smart-phones), unless explicitly written by their classroom teacher and subsequently read and signed by parents/guardians. Appropriate online behaviour and compliance with the school’s Acceptable Usage Policy must always apply. The same rules apply for school outings/trips. (See Child Protection Procedures Policy for details).
7. Online Security
Students are asked to use common sense when accessing websites. If they think a website does not look ‘right’ they must inform their teacher of any concerns. They must think twice before they click on anything they feel is not right. If they believe a computer or mobile device they are using might be infected with a virus, they must alert their teacher immediately.

8. Netiquette
Netiquette may be defined as appropriate social behaviour over computer networks and in particular in the online environment. To this end:

  • Students should always use the Internet, network resources, and online sites in a courteous and respectful manner.
  • Students should also recognise that among the valuable content available online, unverified, incorrect or inappropriate content can be included.
  • Students should not post anything online that they wouldn’t want parents, teachers, future schools and colleges or employers to see. More detailed examples of acceptable use and unacceptable use are given in Appendix 3.
9. Plagiarism
  • Students should not plagiarise content (copy or use as your own without citing the original creator), including works or images, from the Internet.
  • Students should not take credit for things they didn’t create themselves, or misrepresent themselves as an author or creator of something found online.
  • The school will encourage students who create original content to claim ownership of it.
10. Personal Safety
If students see a message, comment, image, or anything else online that makes them concerned for their personal safety, they must bring it to the immediate attention of:

  • a teacher if they are at school.
  • a parent/guardian if they are at home.
Students should never share personal information about themselves or others over computer networks, including phone numbers, addresses, PPS numbers and birth-dates without adult permission. Students should never agree to meet someone in person that they have encountered online without parental permission. A student’s image will not be shared on the school’s website if the school receives a request from a child’s parents to this effect. School-produced videos will not be available for comment online.
11. Cyber-bullying
Harassing, denigrating, impersonating, ‘outing’, tricking, excluding and cyber-stalking are all examples of cyber-bullying. Such bullying will not be tolerated in The Good Shepherd N.S. The school wishes to emphasise that:

  • Its students must not send messages or post comments or photos with the intent of scaring, hurting or intimidating someone else. Engaging in any online activities intended to harm (physically or emotionally) another person, will result in severe disciplinary action and loss of privileges.
  • In some cases, cyber-bullying is a crime. Students’ activities are monitored and retained by the school.

  • The school will support students, teachers and parents in dealing with cyber-bullying as per the school’s Anti-Bullying Policy. The Good Shepherd N.S. is committed to the implementation of the Child Protection Procedures for Primary & Post-Primary Schools (Circular 0081/2017) and will act as required by the Department of Education & Skills, the Department of Children & Youth Affairs, the Department of Justice & Equality and the Health Service Executive.

12. Legislation
All ICT users must respect the laws of Ireland and specifically, but not exclusively, be aware of their responsibilities under the following:

Copyright Act (1963) and as amended
Data Protection Act (1988 & 2003)
Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act (1989)
Criminal Damage Act (1991)
Child Trafficking and Pornography Act (1998)
These acts can be accessed on the website http://www.irishstatutebook.ie
13. Enforcement
Breaches of this policy may have disciplinary repercussion, including:

  • Suspension of computer privileges
  • Notification to parents
  • Detention
  • Suspension from school and/or school-related activities
  • Expulsion
14. Ratification
This ICT & Internet Acceptable Usage Policy was reviewed and approved by the Board of Management of the Good Shepherd National School at its meeting held in February 2023.