With the internet now a central part of most pupils’ lives – at school and at home, guarding against online dangers and those who seek to exploit young people’s vulnerability is a must. Paul Ainsworth gives a step-by step guide to training for e-safety

Every school feels a responsibility to its pupils and their parents regarding e-safety. This training session offers practical tips and advice on helping pupils keep themselves safe online and gives suggestions on how staff and parents can promote good practice

Rationale

Experience suggests that:

  • many parents are unaware of the dangers their children may face by using the internet
  • many parents do not know the practical precautions they can take to protect their children
  • pastoral staff are grateful for practical advice they can give to parents who are worried about their children’s use of the internet
  • while most teachers use the internet at some point in their lessons, few build in opportunities to educate children on safe internet use.

This training session is designed to take 90 minutes and be delivered to a group of teaching and support staff across all subjects and with varying levels of expertise and experience. The session builds on staff’s existing understanding of how to help young people stay safe online. It also helps staff keep up with the skills and expertise of pupils in their use of the internet and, in particular, social networking sites.
The session would work equally well in primary or secondary schools – staff will simply apply different examples for younger pupils. It could also be adapted for use with parents.

The activities in detail

Before starting the session it is a good idea to undertake a short survey of how children use ICT at home. Introducing real statistics on children of varying ages can be a powerful way to begin the sessions. Perhaps the ICT team could place this survey on the school VLE, or ICT teachers could ask pupils in their lessons. Questions could include:

  • Do you own a mobile phone with a camera?
  • Do you access the internet from your mobile?
  • Do you have a social networking profile?
  • Do you use a privacy setting on your profile?
  • Is your phone number, email address, school or other personal information available on your profile?
  • Do you have a computer or laptop in your bedroom?
  • Do you have a webcam?
  • Does your home internet device allow filtering?

Starter: 10 minutes

Place your audience in groups and use the results of your internet survey for a quiz. If you have not conducted this research use the following questions, based on statistics from 2010 surveys undertaken by the Times or Ofcom:

  • What percentage of 12 to 15-year-olds have internet access in their bedrooms? (31%)
  • What percentage of eight- to 12-year-olds have a social networking profile? (25%)
  • What percentage of parents are unaware that their children have a profile? (17%)
  • What percentage of eight to 12-year-olds allow their profile to be seen by anyone? (11%)
  • What percentage of 14- to 16-year-old boys look at pornography every week? (27%)
  • What percentage of parents believe their children know more about the internet than they do? (60%)

Introduction: 10 minutes

Ask staff or parents to work in groups of four or five (this session lends itself to working in year group teams) and share any concerns they have regarding young people’s use of the internet and how it affects pupils on three levels:

  1. Serious threats to young people’s safety (eg grooming).
  2. E-safety concerns that affect pupils’ wellbeing and learning (eg persistent and malicious cyber-bullying, viewing of inappropriate web content).
  3. Concerns that affect pupils’ day-to-day life (eg social networking site postings that cause friendship issues).

Explain that the purpose of this training is threefold: to explore the potential dangers of online usage children face; to discuss what staff can do in school to develop internet safety; and to make parents aware of how they can maintain their children’s online safety.

Development

Task 1 – 15 minutes
There are some excellent films on the Think UK Now website. You have to be registered to download the films but they are free. In an 11 to 16 school, show the film called Consequences. If this training is for primary school pupils show the film Jigsaw.

Task 2 – 10 minutes
Lead a discussion about what you have learned under the following headings:

  • Serious threats to young people
  • Concerns regarding online use by pupils
  • Day-to-day problems for pupils going online
  • Skills required to keep children safe

Task 3 (staff) – 25 minutes
Now ask groups to come up with a 10-point e-safety charter for pupils that can be displayed in classrooms, feature as a page in planners and be part of your safeguarding or e-safety policy. Avoid concentrating on descriptions of in-school software protection or filtering systems or on sanctions for misuse, but instead focus on what responsible pupil users can do, or avoid, to keep themselves safe online. Present staff groups with a writing template with the following headings and encourage them to write in pupil-friendly language:

  • To be safe online I should… Why?
  • To be safe online I shouldn’t… Why?

Task 4 (staff) – 15 minutes
Most schools provide a relatively safe environment for children and young people to use the internet thanks to site-blocking software, high-level filtering and other e-safety precautions such as Securus. Once this has been explained to staff, ask them to consider how they can develop an e-safety module and incorporate it into their schemes of work.

An alternative could be for staff to be placed in tutor or year group teams, where they could develop an e-safety challenge suitable for their pupils. Staff could consider , for instance, what precautions children should take when they are using the internet in a less protected environment and how the challenge they create can give children the opportunities to learn such skills.

Task 3 (parents) – 40 minutes
Demonstrate to parents the various systems in place to ensure their children can safely use the internet in schools, such as site-blocking, filtering and other software. Ask one of your ICT team to show parents how similar precautions can be taken through a standard internet service provider. Safety measures for a popular social networking site such as Facebook or Bebo could also be demonstrated. Give parents the opportunity to practise these skills.

Plenary – 5 minutes
Ask each group to share their challenge with the whole group.

You could finish the session with the short film Where’s Klaus? from www.thinkuknow.co.uk or, if you are in a secondary school and have a little longer, Tom’s Story is very effective.

Suggestions

The session could be used as part of your school’s NQTs induction programme, staff coaching programme or menu of CPD sessions on specific teaching and learning strategies.

Training session: Promoting e-safety

What next?

  • Display the e-safety charters in classrooms.
  • Have children tackle the e-safety challenges in a tutor time.

Paul Ainsworth is vice-principal of a Leicestershire secondary school and author of Developing a Self-evaluating School (Continuum)

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