Policy last updated
17 August 2020
This policy outlines the requirements for the use of social media by school-based staff to support student learning. It does not cover:
- personal use of social media by school-based staff, excepting when a student initiates contact with a staff member on the staff member’s personal social media account(s), or
- professional use of social media by schools for communication/promotional purposes.
- Social media may be used by staff to support student learning if there is an appropriate educational purpose.
- Social media use must be planned, be reflected in school-based curriculum documents, and be approved by the school principal or their nominee(s).
- Staff use of social media to support student learning must be consistent with the professional conduct, personal conduct and professional competence expected of a teacher by their colleagues and the community.
- Social media use must in all cases comply with relevant legislation and department policies, including in relation to staff conduct, privacy, copyright, information security and child safety.
- Any social media student activity visible to the public must not proceed without consent. This extends to sharing with parents.
Social media may be used by staff to support student learning if there is an appropriate educational purpose – this means that social media use:
- is directly related to achieving the learning outcomes defined in Victorian curriculum frameworks, and
- offers benefits for student learning that may not be able to be met in face-to-face contexts or through the use of other technologies.
Social media use must be planned and be reflected in school-based curriculum documents (for example, a learning area/level plan, a unit of work/learning sequence).
Social media use must be approved by the school principal or their nominee(s). Nominees may include a curriculum or level leader who approves social media use when they review curriculum planning documents as part of their usual practice.
Staff use of social media to support student learning must be consistent with the professional conduct, personal conduct and professional competence expected of them by their colleagues and the community, as outlined in any relevant codes of conducts, or local school or department policies, including Part 11 of Ministerial Order 1038 (Conduct and Duties), the for Victorian Public Sector Employees, the school’s Child Safety Code of Conduct and, for teachers, the .
Social media use must in all cases comply with relevant legislation and department policies, including in relation to staff conduct, privacy, copyright, information security and child safety. This includes:
- ensuring that there is parent/carer notification or consent to their child’s use of social media, and that social media use is age-appropriate (for example, platforms/applications that are rated 13+ are not used with primary-school-aged children) – refer to Parent/carer notification or consent for student use of social media, below, for further information
- ensuring that material sourced or created by staff that includes non-original or third-party content copied under licences or exceptions that apply to education institutions are not visible to the public.
Note that department-provided online tools for collaboration and learning are available as part of the program and are configured to be compliant with legislation and departmental policies. These technologies should be used in preference to social media platforms and applications where appropriate.
Where possible, social media accounts that support student learning must use department/school credentialing (for example, department/school email address), rather than personal credentialing (for example, home email address).
Note that some social media platforms/applications only allow users to have one personal account (i.e. there is no mechanism for staff or students to use department/school credentialing). Staff should avoid using such platforms/applications if an alternative platform/application can be used in its place that allows users to create a social media account with department/school credentialing.
Staff must not:
- ‘friend’ or accept a ‘friend’ request from a student on/using a personal social media account
- 'follow’ a student on/using a personal social media account.
unless it is objectively appropriate, for example where the student is also a family member of the staff member.
If a staff member becomes aware that a student at the school is ‘following’ them on a personal social media account (where ‘following’ an account does not require permission from the account holder), the staff member must ask the student to ‘unfollow’ them, and notify the school and/or parent/carer if the student does not do so.
In supporting student learning, staff should avoid using public social media platforms/applications (for example, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok), unless there is a specific educational need for the use of an online public forum.
Where the platform/application allows it, at least 2 staff members should have administrative rights to any social media page or group. Each administrator should have their own login to the platform. Where the platform does not allow multiple individual administrators, and a shared administrative login is required, the password must be changed when an administrator leaves the role and/or platform/application. If a staff member leaves the school (e.g. moves to another school or leaves the profession), administrative rights to the account must be removed for that staff member or the account deleted. See for further information.
Students should be actively involved in the decisions about which social media websites and applications are used, and how they are used. This acknowledges that students have unique perspectives on learning, teaching, and schooling, and should have the opportunity to actively shape their own education.
Parent/carer notification or consent for student use of social media
Any student social media activity not visible to the public requires parents/carers to be notified and given an opportunity to ‘opt out’ of the proposed social media use.
Any student social media activity visible to the public must not proceed without consent. This extends to sharing with parents.
In some instances, a student may wish to make their own decisions about the use of their personal information to access social media. In this situation, schools should refer to the department's and policies.
Protocols for student use of social media
Protocols for use of social media:
- must be defined when a platform/application is used for the first time with students
- should be developed with input from students
- should be communicated on a regular basis across the period that a platform/application is used
- should be explicit about what type of behaviour is not acceptable and what actions will be taken if the rules are broken. Such protocols are usually articulated in a school’s:
- Acceptable Use Agreements for the use of digital technologies
- Student Engagement and Wellbeing Policy
- should be explicitly modelled, encouraged and scaffolded by staff.
Interactions between students on social media must be actively and regularly monitored and the platform/application closed when not in use.
Use of social media by parents/carers
Under some circumstances, it may be appropriate to invite parents/carers to view/comment on social media content (for example, a class blog) created to support student learning. In such circumstances, security and privacy controls must be put in place to ensure compliance with relevant legislation and department policies. In particular, staff must ensure that parent/carer involvement with their child’s learning does not provide them with opportunities to connect/engage with other people’s children on social media platforms/applications used by the school.
Protocols for parent involvement with social media:
- must be defined and communicated when a platform/application is used for the first time with parents
- should be communicated on a regular basis across the period that a platform/application is used
- should be explicit about what type of behaviour is not acceptable and what actions will be taken if the rules are broken.
Parent/carers should have the opportunity to provide input into the development of parent/carers social media protocols.
Responding to challenging behaviour by parents/carers
Ensuring that the school community is aware of the school’s values and expectations for appropriate behaviour on social media can help to prevent and manage conflict and ensure that staff are able to engage with parents/carers, students and others in a safe and respectful way.
Schools that are faced with particularly challenging behaviour by parents/carers on social media may like to consider adopting a Respect for School Staff policy that further elaborates on the expectations for appropriate behaviour.
Social media refers to websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.
Social media may include:
- social networking sites (for example, Facebook, LinkedIn)
- video and photo sharing websites (for example, Flickr, YouTube)
- blogs, including corporate blogs and personal blogs (for example, WordPress, EduBlogs)
- micro-blogging (for example, X (formerly Twitter))
- forums, discussion boards and groups (for example, Whirlpool)
- wikis (for example, PBWorks, WordPress)
- instant messaging (for example, WhatsApp).
Social media functions may be included as part of a larger learning platform (for example, G Suite for Education, Microsoft 365).
Social media platforms and applications enable people to directly interact with each other. They support people to publish and share information, ideas and views and discuss content, and are often popular with students. Staff in schools are therefore often interested in or will seek to use social media platforms and applications to support student learning.
As a first step, staff should identify a clear rationale for the use of social media and confirm that existing technologies in the school, including Department provided technologies (see note, below) and any other third-party technologies, are not able to meet/address the desired educational outcome(s).
This step is important as:
- the introduction of any technology in a school comes with risk, including in areas like privacy, copyright, child safety and information security -- it is therefore important to minimise duplication in technologies (so, having more than one technology that does the same thing)
- the use of a large number of different technologies in schools, particularly where they are not integrated with each other (so, for example, requiring different user names and passwords) can result in confusion and frustration in users
Examples of appropriate social media use
The following examples demonstrate social media platforms and applications being used appropriately, with a clear educational context:
- use of an online forum or social networking site for students to post curriculum-related questions, which the teacher and/or other students answer (for example, curriculum support for students studying a VCE subject)
- use of an online blog by a student to describe/showcase classwork as it develops, which the teacher, peers or students’ parents/carers can make appropriate comments on (for example, portfolio of a design process)
- use of a online wiki by a teacher as a content repository (for example, collection of primary source material)
- use of a video sharing website to help students explore/deepen understanding of concepts (for example, Eddie Woo and Wootube; Khan Academy)
- use of an online photo sharing site to curate and annotate image collections to support understanding of curriculum content (for example, photographs of landforms or other geographical features)
- use of an online blog or wiki to host student-created podcasts or vodcasts and invite audience feedback (for example, a series of episodes where student hosts investigate and discuss the response of significant people to discrimination)
- use of an online micro-blogging platform, discussion board or chat forum to hold a slow chat, where questions posed/answers posted can be offered asynchronously (for example, questions prompting students to share effective self-regulation strategies)
- use of online collaborative mapping tools to record/annotate local or global events, phenomena and places (for example, mapping/documenting global volcanic activity)
- use of an online micro-blogging platform, discussion board or chat forum to pose an open-ended curriculum question (for example, Algorithmic thinking: The answer is 36. What is the question? Mathematics)
- use of an online instant messaging app to organise and run a class/year level event (for example, an act for the annual school concert)
Documentation and templates:
- For IP and copyright guidance and resources, see the
- For Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) templates, see the
- For the Pre-populated InfoSafe School Risk Document, see the
Acceptable use agreements — guidelines and templates:
Notifications and Consent
When notifying the school community about the school use of online learning platforms and applications, refer to the section on notifications for online services in the of the Guidance for the Privacy and Information Sharing policy.
Consent is required for social media tools where student use is publicly visible. A sample consent form will be published here in the coming weeks.
Information for school communities about safe use of social media applications:
Information for school communities about understanding the importance of audience when working in online environments. Parent/carer consent requirements vary depending on the audience or reach of the social media platform. Professor Stephen Heppell defines this notion of audience as .
Protocols for acceptable social media use
Examples of social media protocols:
Responding to online incidents
Information for schools about responding to online incidents and how to remove inappropriate content from social media sites is available on the Australian Government eSafety website.
Reviewed 17 August 2020