Risk assessment and consent for live streaming


Our school wants to start live streaming of lessons. What do we need to consider in terms of risk assessment and parental consent?


There are several issues to unpick here. The level of additional consent required will be based upon the existing policies and parental arrangements your school already has in place.

The two issues have different considerations based upon technical and behavioural aspects.

Technical considerations

Let us start with the technical. There are many ways to live stream lessons with popular platforms such as Hangouts, Zoom and Teams dominating the current landscape. These platforms all have administrator controls built in to allow the restriction of certain features such as peer-to-peer messaging.

Schools should set up platforms with appropriate hierarchies so teachers have full control of the meetings they set up with young people and they should be trained on best practice for using passwords, lobbies and how to shut down conversations or intrusions that may be inappropriate. Teachers should have the ability to remove or mute students from a class and have full control over the progression of a live lesson.

A sensible precaution is to publish only to private channels and require a ‘no onward publishing’ rule to build confidence for the teachers and students that they can interact with confidence and without fear of their interactions being republished to a wider (or public) audience.

By articulating why you are doing this, where the content will be published and your expectations of students, you reduce the risks for all parties

Another sensible suggestion is to record and retain all lessons. This affords a degree of protection to staff against accusations and allows students who are unable to access live lessons to pick them up at a later time.

Other technical suggestions include conducting audio-only live lessons whilst students and staff get used to the new style of learning, or a staff video/student audio approach. This approach reduces risks considerably as the home context of students is not revealed.

Behavioural considerations

Behavioural risks also need to be addressed. By live streaming lessons during lockdown, teachers reveal their home context and are also opening up their teaching style to parents, carers and anyone accessing the lesson from the student’s device.

Guidance and training should be given on best practice in live lessons with particular emphasis on planning and preparation. Guidance should also be given regarding:

  • professional dress
  • clarity of language
  • online marking
  • what to do if something goes wrong.

Parental consent

In terms of parental consent, most schools will have policies that cover data protection, the use of digital images/videos, alongside policies on mobile device usage. Staff will have signed a policy on social media use within a wider code of conduct. It is important that these policies all align and enforce the same guidance and standards.

From a data processing perspective, live streaming can be covered by a short appendix to additional policies/privacy statements along the lines of: I agree for XXX school to collect and process my data for the purpose of providing a home-learning service.

Communication with parents is key. By articulating why you are doing this, where the content will be published and your expectations of students, you reduce the risks for all parties.

Useful resources

Answered by Hamish Mackenzie, founder of Digital Resilience UK.

Last Updated: 
02 Jun 2020

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