E-safety education is in my opinion the most important aspect of your school’s e-safety policy. Put bluntly, your students may be safe and sound behind your bomb-proof firewalls and child-friendly filters while in school, but if they do not understand how to manage online risks when they are outside of school, then you have failed. There is still a tendency for schools to rely too heavily on technical solutions to keep students safe, which ironically is perhaps the most dangerous strategy to follow. What then should you consider when devising your e-safety curriculum?
Learning about e-safety should be explicitly planned into SoW and delivered through PSHCE, ICT and ideally across the whole curriculum. Wherever ICT is used there is an opportunity to revisit and develop e-safety. Don’t just ‘do e-safety’ in Year 7 and then forget about it; ensure learning about e-safety is planned for all children in all years, and that your curriculum includes both breadth and progression. Pay particular attention to children who are vulnerable, and regularly evaluate the effectiveness and impact of your e-safety programme.
Don’t assume children will magically develop digital literacy – teach it explicitly. This means that in all subjects, children should learn to be critically aware of online materials and content they access, develop the ability to validate its accuracy, and become increasingly aware of their responsibilities re. copyright and plagiarism.
The Contribution of Young People
Many young people have developed high levels of ICT skills and knowledge. You should capitalise on this, acknowledging it and involving young people in developing e-safety policies, AUPs, curriculum, and in e-safety campaigns, mentoring, support and counselling schemes.
Fundamentally e-safety is a safeguarding issue and e-safety training needs to be integral to your safeguarding training programme. Audit your staff and provide a programme matched to their needs. Include e-safety in the induction programme for new staff. And for designated staff (E-safety Lead, CP Officer, Data Manager), provide opportunities for them to participate in further training, for example, from SWGfL, CEOP, ThinkuKnow or EPICT.
Provide regular e-safety awareness training for your governors, and update them annually. And assuming you have a designated governor responsible for e-safety (if not why not?) ensure they have attended external training.
The role of parents and guardians in supporting e-safety education is vital and is far more than simply asking them to sign the students’ Acceptable Use Policy. You should ensure that parents have access to current e-safety materials (e.g. through the web site) and know who to contact with their e-safety concerns. You should also provide them with regular opportunities to receive education or information about e-safety. If persuading parents to attend e-safety workshops is a problem, consider combining short presentations with other events like parents evenings.
Your school has resources and expertise than can benefit the wider community, not just your pupils and their parents. Feeder primaries, nurseries, youth groups, children’s centres, community and religious groups are all potential partners who can also influence how your students behave when outside of school. Aim to provide opportunities for members of the wider community to gain information and understanding about e-safety, and support their development through the use of online safety planning tools e.g. Online Compass.
Contact us if you need further support or information about e-safety. We can identify your priorities for development by carrying out an e-safety audit, help develop your e-safety policy, support your developments to achieve the e-safety mark, or deliver on-site training to staff, students, governors or parents.