How to establish a UK-based online tutoring platform compliant with child protection laws?

In the ever-evolving digital era, online tutoring is no longer a novelty but a necessity. The phenomenon has been growing consistently, with parents and students alike seeking the convenience and flexibility that online tutors can provide. However, when launching such a platform in the UK, safeguarding children and their personal data becomes a crucial responsibility. This article aims to guide you through the process of setting up your online tutoring platform, ensuring it complies with the child protection laws and data policies of the UK.

Understanding Child Protection Laws and Data Policies in the UK

The first step towards developing a platform that is compliant with child protection laws and data policies involves thoroughly understanding what these laws entail. In the UK, the major legislation concerning child protection is the Children Act 1989 and 2004. These acts highlight the responsibility of local authorities, services, and other bodies towards safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. The Data Protection Act 2018, on the other hand, underlines the importance of protecting personal data, including that of children.

This Act mandates that any data collected from a child must be done so with parental consent for children under 13. It also stresses the need for clear and accessible privacy notices for children. Therefore, your online tutoring platform must have robust systems in place to ensure compliance with these laws.

Recruiting Qualified Tutors with Enhanced DBS Checks

Your tutoring staff is the backbone of your online tutoring business. Hence, when recruiting tutors, it's essential to not only look at their subject expertise but also their background. In line with safeguarding children, the UK law requires staff who will be working with children to undergo an Enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check.

This check will reveal any convictions, cautions, warnings, or reprimands the applicant has received. It will also allow you to see if the applicant is barred from working with children. Hence, ensuring that all your tutors have passed the Enhanced DBS check will add another layer of security to your platform.

Implementing Stringent Safeguarding Policies

With your understanding of the child protection laws and a team of qualified, DBS-cleared tutors, the next step is to create stringent safeguarding policies. These policies will guide the conduct of your tutors and other staff members, ensuring the safety of student interactions on your platform. They should cover various topics, including how to identify and report abuse, how to communicate with students, and how to handle sensitive situations.

Your safeguarding policy should be visible and easily accessible to all users on the platform. It is also recommended to provide training to your tutors and staff members about these policies, ensuring they understand and abide by them.

Establishing Secure Data Handling Practices

As an online service, your platform will inevitably collect, store, and process a lot of personal data, including data from children. You must establish secure data handling practices to comply with the Data Protection Act 2018.

You should aim for data minimisation, collecting only what is necessary for your service. You must also ensure the data is stored securely, protected from unauthorised access, accidental loss, or destruction. In addition, it's critical to obtain explicit consent from the child's parents before collecting any data from a child under 13.

Finally, you should provide a clear and understandable privacy policy, outlining how you collect, use, and protect the personal data of your users. This policy should be easily accessible on your platform.

Incorporating Safe Technological Features

In addition to the above steps, incorporating safe technological features into your platform can further enhance child protection. These could include secure login systems, encrypted communication channels, and parental control settings. Monitoring and filtering tools can also be implemented to prevent inappropriate content or behaviour on the platform.

Moreover, it's important to continually review and update your platform's safety features in response to new threats and technological advancements. This will ensure that your online tutoring platform remains a safe and secure environment for students.

In establishing your UK-based online tutoring platform, remember that the safety and welfare of the children who will use your services are paramount. By understanding and complying with child protection laws, recruiting qualified tutors, implementing safeguarding policies, establishing secure data practices, and incorporating safe technological features, you can confidently provide a platform that not only educates but also protects its users.

Transparent Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

Being transparent about your terms and conditions and privacy policy is another essential aspect of establishing a UK-based online tutoring platform. This involves clearly stating what your platform does, what services it provides, and how it uses and protects the personal data of its users, especially the children and young people who form the primary user base.

The terms and conditions should be drafted in easily understandable language, avoiding the use of jargon or complex legal terms as much as possible. This is particularly crucial when dealing with children and young people, who may not fully comprehend the implications of agreeing to overly complex terms and conditions.

In addition to stating clearly how you use and protect personal data, your privacy policy should also provide details on how users can request access to their personal data, correct any inaccuracies in their data, or request the deletion of their data. This is in line with the data subject rights provided under the Data Protection Act 2018.

Moreover, your platform should ensure that it obtains explicit consent from users (or in the case of children under 13, their parents) before collecting and using their personal data. This consent should be freely given, informed, and unambiguous. The process of obtaining consent should be as easy and straightforward as possible, without any pre-ticked boxes or default 'opt-in' settings.

Handling Safeguarding Concerns and Complaints

When running an online tutoring business that involves contact with children, it is inevitable that you may occasionally face safeguarding concerns or complaints. Handling these concerns and complaints appropriately is not just a legal obligation, but also a moral responsibility towards the children and young people that use your services.

Your platform should have a clear and easily accessible procedure for reporting safeguarding concerns or complaints. This could involve a designated safeguarding official or team, who are trained to handle such situations. All staff members, including tutors, should be made aware of this procedure and provided with training on how to respond to safeguarding concerns.

In addition to handling individual concerns or complaints, your platform should also have a system for tracking and analysing trends in safeguarding concerns. This can provide valuable insights into potential areas of risk and help inform your policies and procedures.

Regular audits and reviews of your safeguarding practices can also be beneficial, helping to ensure that your policies are effectively implemented and that any gaps or weaknesses are identified and addressed promptly.


Establishing a UK-based online tutoring platform compliant with child protection laws involves a comprehensive understanding of the relevant laws and regulations, stringent staff recruitment processes, robust safeguarding policies and procedures, secure data handling practices, and safe technological features. Transparency in terms and conditions and privacy policy, along with efficient handling of safeguarding concerns and complaints, also plays a significant role.

These steps, while requiring significant time and effort, are crucial in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of children and young people. They not only help to protect them from harm but also build trust with users and their parents, which is essential for the success of your online tutoring business. Remember, safeguarding is not just about compliance with laws and regulations; it is about creating an environment where children and young people can learn and grow without fear or worry.