E-Safety – Where to Begin?

Since taking over the job of ICT Coordinator I have been trying to revamp the ICT in our school, offering the children a wider range of opportunities and experiences and ensuring staff are as supported as possible when using ICT in lessons. With this in mind what’s becoming more and more apparent is the need for e-safety structures set up to ensure that with all these fabulous new ideas, everyone is safe.

Initially when I undertook the role I asked the children about their experiences, see the post here. The answers to the question about Esafety were worrying to say the least, there were some who had good suggestions…

 

“I look at the title of the webpage and think if it really is suitable for me or I set up McAfee at home and if it has a tick by the title it is suitable but if it has a cross it means it is not suitable and if you click on that title it asks you ‘Do you really want to go on this page we detected it isn’t suitable’ “

 

To other suggestions that had a little good advice:

 

“Make sure you dont go on bad sites or silly stuff on you tube.”

 

To those who simply said ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I use it slowly’.

 

Now I was already concerned about the children’s understanding of how to use ICT safely but these answers solidified that but I was faced with ultimate question – where to begin?

 

There were certain things which had already been put in place due to the necessity such as the ICT policy, Internet safety policy and the photographic images of children policy as well as separate safety rules for using Blogging and Twitter in the classroom. It did seem however that these were not being passed on to the children, and although there was policy in place to protect them, we weren’t doing as much as we could to protect them from themselves.

 

As part of my role I was already reviewing the policies and, of course, updating them, but following some advice from @IanAddison decided to group all of the policies together using his policy as a template. Check it out his original policy here. His policy then led me to http://www.360safe.org.uk/ which is a fantastic way to track your progress through providing a wider number of Esafety opportunities and support for the children.

 

My school has now reached the ‘making progress’ grade in the award stages which I am very proud of, we have given all staff and children Acceptable Usage Policies (AUPs) to sign and these have sparked a wide range of conversations which is brilliant. We are building a collection of specific e-safety lessons and arranging for interventions such as an Esafety group involving children, teachers and governors.

 

I think it’s important to remember that the children are not as knowledgeable about how to be safe online as we first perceive. Although they have grown up in a world where this common technology is in place they may not have had it in their homes, and even more likely, they haven’t been warned of the risks that can occur if they are not managed. Have the discussions with the children, let them share their ideas and concerns and let them prepare themselves for a world where their choices matter.

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