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Last updated on 15 August 2018
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Help your staff to keep their social media profiles secure and to know what to do if they're contacted by a pupil or parent online.

Download our cheat sheet

Distribute it to your teachers to help keep them secure online.

Cyberbullying among pupils

Click here for more information about what to do if pupils are being bullied online. The resource, on The Key's Safeguarding Training Centre, is free for members of The Key for School Leaders.

Create a social media policy

A social media policy is not a statutory policy, but it's a good idea to have one so that:

  • Everyone inside and outside the school knows the expectations and limitations of using social media in both a professional and personal capacity
  • You have something to refer parents or pupils to if they try to contact you or your staff members through social media
  • Sanctions are appropriate and consistent

Find out what to include in a social media policy and see examples from other schools in another of our articles.

Template letter to parents about contacting staff on social media

Send this letter to all parents if there is an incident involving a pupil/pupils or parent contacting staff on social media.

Alternatively, send it to all parents at the start of term to ensure everyone is on the same page.

How to respond to an online incident 

A pupil contacts a staff member on social media

  1. Advise teachers to ignore and delete requests and messages from pupils, and/or block them from viewing their profile (see how to do this here). Remind them to check their privacy settings, consider changing their display name or profile picture, and to take screenshots of any further online communication from the pupil
  2. If the pupil persists, remind them of your school's social media policy (if you have one)
  3. Use your usual mediation and disciplinary procedures to discipline the pupil
  4. Send out a letter to parents to remind them of the school's expectations around pupils contacting staff members on social media (see section 3, above)

A parent contacts a staff member on social media

  1. Depending on your school's social media policy, it is at the discretion of the staff member whether to respond. Remind them that:
    • Responding to one parent's friend request or message might set an unwelcome precedent for both the staff member and other staff members at the school
    • Pupils may then have indirect access through their parent's account to anything the staff member posts, shares, comments on or is tagged in
  2. Consider drafting a stock response for your staff members to use if they're contacted by parents. The response can let parents know why their message or request is being ignored or declined, and how they can otherwise contact the school
  3. Send out a letter to parents to remind them of the school's expectations around parents contacting staff members on social media (see section 3, above)

Somebody is harassing a staff member on social media, or spreading something offensive about a staff member, pupil or the school

  1. Tell staff members not to retaliate or respond in any way, and to save evidence of any abuse along with the date and time it occurred
  2. Report the material to Facebook or the relevant social network, and ask them to remove it. Read how to do this here
  3. If the comments are racist, sexist, of a sexual nature or constitute a hate crime, consider contacting the local police
  4. If the perpetrator is a current school pupil or staff member, your usual mediation and disciplinary procedures are usually sufficient to deal with online incidents
  5. If the perpetrator is a parent or other external adult, invite them to a meeting at the school to address their concerns, make any reasonable complaints and to ask them to remove the offending comments or material
  6. If the meeting is unsuccessful, you could consider:


We used the following sources as references for this article.

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The Key has taken great care in publishing this article. However, some of the article's content and information may come from or link to third party sources whose quality, relevance, accuracy, completeness, currency and reliability we do not guarantee. Accordingly, we will not be held liable for any use of or reliance placed on this article's content or the links or downloads it provides. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.