A simple policy?

policies_coverHave been doing my annual review of IT related policies recently including our acceptable usage policy.   The thing that has hit me is that these documents have a tendency to try to be detailed and cover a wide range of possible scenarios identifying what users, including pupils and staff, should or shouldn’t do.    Having recently read “When the adults change, everything changes” by Paul Dix I have found myself rethinking how such policies should be written.

In Pauls book which focusses on managing behaviour he advocates keeping rules clear and simple, picking only a limited number of around 3 rules and ensuring all across the school consistently enforce they rules.   The idea of simplicity is the one that has stuck most with me.   By making rules simple, and limiting the number of them, they are much more easily understood and shared across the school community.   It is very difficult to remember a list of 25 different rules let alone ensure that all across school fully understand them and can apply them all consistently.

This led me to consider what is most important in terms of IT acceptable use and I came up with a limited list of guidelines albeit more than the 3 Paul suggested.

  • Respect privacy, intellectual property and copyright
  • Be safe and secure
  • Be responsible
  • Protect school data
  • Report issues

I think the above sums up how we should all use IT.    Obviously to help understanding of each guideline I have also put together some additional details of explanation however it still all easily fits on a single side of A4;  The previous version took up several sides of A4.

I wonder how many other policies might be simplified down to a number of simple descriptions or phrases such that they are easier to understand and apply.



Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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