Digital Engagement Guidelines and Online Safety Policy

The Digital Engagement Guidelines and Birmingham Museum Trust's Online Safety Policy can be found below. Alternatively, download the text on this page as PDFs: Digital Engagement Guidelines and Online Safety Policy and Procedures.

Digital Engagement Guidelines

Digital Engagement work encompasses all the work Birmingham Museums Trust (BMT) carries out through facilitated sessions and live streamed activities. These activities can either be private sessions e.g. Museum Streams for schools or public sessions e.g. Curatorial Talks. Platforms for these activities include, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Live and YouTube Live amongst others.

These guidelines are to be followed in accordance with BMT’s Online Safety Policy (shown further below). This page provides more detail on how we plan and facilitate specific online activities.

Museum Stream and Live Stream Education Sessions

When running a school workshop on an online platform:

We will

  • Deliver the session from a museum account, never a personal one.
  • Where possible we will connect to the internet via an Ethernet cable rather than WiFi.
  • Password protect the platform so only those with passwords can enter.
  • Lock sessions once they begin to lower the risk of others gaining entry to sessions.
  • Allow only the museum staff to share screens (not students).
  • Ensure that there is always a schoolteacher or other member of teaching staff present in a session.
  • Restrict chat functions on platforms so that private conversations are not possible.
  • Disable the ability for anyone to join a session before museum staff.
  • Ensure that sessions are streamed from a suitable room. Where possible we will use virtual backgrounds or white walls with good lighting to ensure students are able to concentrate on the facilitator and don’t see personal items of the facilitator.
  • Staff will be professionally dressed with the camera kept at eye height.

We wont

  • Take any photos or videos of the sessions without specific written consent.
  • Share any photos or videos of the sessions without specific written consent.
  • Record any sessions.

Managing Behaviour

  • We will share the Online Safety Policy, these guidelines and the risk assessment for the session in advance, as well as how to access the session and what to expect.
  • We will mute all participants when they are not required to speak to ensure the smooth running of the session.
  • We will support teachers in managing the behaviour of their students. If needed, we’ll suggest taking a break to allow the teacher to resolve a situation and let the teacher know we will mute the class to allow privacy.

Community and Young People Workshops

The museum runs a variety of projects that involve online components with members of the community and young people. These projects may involve a group of people that all know each other, or they may be ‘virtually’ meeting for the first time. The risk assessment for each workshop will take this into account when planning the session. Many of the guidelines above also apply to these sessions. In addition, our facilitators will:

  • Ensure time for introductions for each participant in the workshop.
  • Set out any house rules for the session at the start, including how participants can interact with us and explain any functions of the platform we’ll be using.
  • Send out any material for the session in good time beforehand.
  • Facilitate the behaviour of participants in the session. If a participant becomes disruptive, we will inform them that they will be put on mute and if necessarily removed from the session. We will always follow up with participants after the session and provide support if needed.
  • Ensure there are always at least three people in a digital session with a young person or vulnerable adult, either two members of staff or another participant. This is to ensure safety of the participants and staff.

General Public

Online public events may include live streamed talks, tours, shows and/or demonstrations. Again, many of the above guidelines apply with the additional consideration to public behaviour:

  • We will mute all viewers on arrival to the session and outline the use of the chat function. The presenter will make sure viewers know when questions will be answered i.e. at set intervals, at the end etc.
  • If a member of the public becomes abusive or aggressive using this function, then comments will be deleted, and staff will not interact with the individual. Any threatening or racially abusive behaviour will be reported to the police.

Online Safety Policy and Procedures


Birmingham Museums Trust (BMT) recognises the opportunities and challenges that digital engagement may bring to those working with children and young people. BMT advocates applying the same principles and standards for interacting with children and adults online as in other areas of practice, and in accordance with BMT’s Safeguarding Policy and Procedures.

Online safety is the process of limiting the risks to children, young people and vulnerable adults when using the internet, digital and mobile technology.

Policy principles 

Staff and volunteers MUST:

  • Maintain professional boundaries with children and adults at all times.
  • Always use BMT’s IT systems, internet and social media channels responsibly.
  • Communicate with children or adults as if speaking with them in person, being polite and respectful.
  • Ensure use of the internet and email is principally for official purposes. Staff may use our facilities for personal email and to gain access to the internet, but usage must be limited and only take place in breaks or in staff own time.
  • Ensure that BMT devices are secure and password-protected, and keep all data securely stored in accordance with BMT’s Privacy and Retention Policies. BMT devices must be stored in a locked cabinet or equivalent when not in use or in transit.
  • Let one of the Designated Safeguarding Officers know immediately if they find or hear about any material, whether received by email or seen on BMT social media channels, which might upset, distress or harm them or others; following BMT’s Safeguarding Policy and Procedures.

Staff and volunteers MUST NOT:

  • Use BMT equipment to access, or attempt to access inappropriate material, including but not  limited to material of a violent, criminal or pornographic nature.
  • Use BMT equipment and social media in any way that could harm BMT’s reputation.
  • Use any improper language when communicating online, including in emails or other messaging services.
  • Seek to befriend a child, young person or vulnerable adult whom you have met through work for any purpose whatsoever.
  • Allow a child, young person or vulnerable adult you have met through work to join your friends list on personal social network profiles.
  • Play online games with any child unless part of BMT’s official business using company devices and accounts, and only with the approval of your manager.
  • Give your personal contact details; including phone, email, social network accounts to a child, young person or vulnerable adult.
  • Use personal devices for communicating with children, young people or vulnerable adults for work purposes, including by phone and text.
  • Install any unauthorised software on work devices.
  • Share work passwords with others or log into BMT’s network using someone else’s details

Film and photography

Photographs and film of BMT activity must not include any participant unless authorised by the appropriate member of staff, and consent is given by the parent/adult responsible for the child/vulnerable adult. 

All images and film requiring parental/guardian consent must be stored in the BMT Digital Asset Management System (DAMS), with the signed consent form. If personal devices are used to capture images/film requiring consent, these images/film must be deleted from the personal device as soon as possible and once they have been transferred to BMT’s DAMS. Where possible, a registered BMT device should be used for film/photography.

Freelance film/photographers must not use BMT images for their own use unless written permission is obtained in advance from BMT. No BMT film or images involving children, young people or vulnerable adults can be stored, used or shared by freelancers. All freelancers commissioned to take film or photography of BMT activity must be made aware of this policy.

Direct communications

Remember that in online communication via email and social media it is not possible to be sure with whom you are actually communicating.

Online contact with children under 18 should only be with the approval of your manager and strictly for work purposes only.

Where direct communication with children under 18 is agreed for business purposes, such as to contact work experience placements, young volunteers, and members of BMT youth boards, the following procedures must be followed:

Work experience placements (aged 15-17): a parent/guardian or representative from the school must be copied in to email correspondence. Where this is not possible, a member of BMT staff with level 2 safeguarding training must be copied into the correspondence.

Volunteers aged 16-17: a member of BMT staff with at least level 2 safeguarding training must be copied into email correspondence.

Virtual meetings

If holding a virtual meeting on a digital platform (such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, or MS Teams) with children under the age of 18, you must ensure that:

  • No one under the age of 16 will be able to attend the meeting.
  • You obtain a consent form for each participant, signed by their parent or guardian in advance of the activity. Consent forms are available on the BMT Intranet. Completed forms must be sent to one of the Learning and Engagement Managers or the Volunteer Manager to be securely stored.
  • Two members of BMT staff must be present during the full meeting
  • At least one member of staff attending the meeting must be at least level 2 trained in BMT’s safeguarding procedures.
  • Everyone must be in a communal living space throughout the meeting.

You must ensure that the virtual meeting is secure. If something goes wrong, such as someone gate-crashes the meeting, make sure that you are prepared and know how to deal with it quickly. You might need to close the meeting quickly, or eliminate one of the participants. For example:

  • Make sure you are using an up to date version of the app
  • Use a unique ID and password for the meeting if possible
  • Create a lobby / waiting room
  • Make sure only the hosts can share their screen
  • Create an invite-only meeting
  • ‘Lock’ a meeting once it starts if possible
  • Know in advance how to eliminate one of the participants
  • Know how to disable someone’s camera, and to mute participants
  • Know how to prevent GIFs and other files and images from being added to the chat
  • Manage who can chat

Failure to comply with this policy could lead to disciplinary action.