High Lawn Primary School achieved their National Online Safety Certified School Accreditation in March 2020.
They are a school who are passionate about keeping children safe online and who have really taken advantage of our training courses, resources and free guides to help engage their whole school community in online safety.
We asked Heather Cardwell, Online Safety Lead, to describe her own experience with National Online Safety and how we’ve helped to change the ethos and culture of online safety at High Lawn Primary.
Why did you choose National Online Safety?
We first became interested in the platform guides that were made available.
As Online Safety Lead, you are often asked for material to share with parents. This can be a time-consuming process with a lot of information found to be incorrect or out of date.
The platform guides were the perfect go-to.
They were set out in an engaging way and were, most importantly, always up-to-date with relevant information. From there, I started to become interested in the other resources that NOS provided and wondered if they were of the same quality as the platform guides. They were.
Due to the fact that online safety has a high status in our school, I also wanted our school to receive some acknowledgment for that. After speaking via phone and then exchanging several emails, I was provided with clear information on how we could achieve a certified school status.
This communication was the final reason why we chose National Online Safety.
What package/resources did you purchase and how did you find these?
We became aware of what National Online Safety had to offer through using the platform guides and after browsing the site, we decided to purchase the Certified School Membership.
I liaised with the Headteacher and business manager as to whether we could proceed with this due to the financial cost and they both agreed that it was a worthy cause to spend some of our budget on.
We then started to look at the lesson plans once we had signed up to the package.
How have you found the service from National Online Safety?
I have found the service to be excellent. The resources are quality and up-to-date. These are two things that are tricky to find with regards to online safety given its ever changing nature.
There is regular communication via e-mail but not too much – which is important in a busy school! I value the monthly update webinars, which keep me in the know for a fraction of the time it would otherwise take me to research and read all of those articles myself!
The #WakeUpWednesday also reminds me to retweet weekly and therefore our parents get a weekly reminder. The tweets, more often than not, directly correlate with what is hot in our school at that moment in time. And if I don’t think it’s relevant, I search back through your platform guides and retweet a different one. We also send your guides out with our newsletter fortnightly.
How much of a benefit has National Online Safety’s resources been to your school?
The resources have been of huge benefit to our school in many ways. We are engaging and keeping parents up to date with online safety matters as well as motivating children using exciting lesson plans with quality content and staff training.
The online training in particular, opened a lot of our staff’s eyes to the dangers out there in the online world – it’s not just TikTok or whatever the app of the hour is – there is so much out there that we need to be aware of to help us safeguard our children.
It’s not going to go away. If anything, it is becoming more and more prevalent. Some of the training wasn’t necessarily pertinent to online safety in the primary setting. However, it helped in making staff realise that we are laying the foundations for children’s attitudes and behaviours online at a young age so that hopefully our children are well prepared for what may come in the future.
This is our ultimate vision.
We wouldn’t be doing our children justice if we didn’t know what could potentially be a problem for them in the future. The resources have helped me share my vision with the whole school community; staff, children, governors and parents and carers.
What were the goals for using our resources?
Increased awareness of online safety in our school.
We were already using resources from a variety of sources e.g. Education for a connected world, CEOP, NSPCC, Vodafone plus a variety of others. Sometimes it felt like I was directing staff to too many places. Staff start to become bombarded and then stop due to the busy nature of the job. I wanted a more consistent approach.
I also wanted our school to be acknowledged for the hard work it was already putting in with regards to online safety.
It’s not an easy area to engage the wider community in and our staff do an amazing job, day in day out, listening to our children, being vigilant, logging safeguarding problems should they arise, making sure AUPs are adhered to, seeking and providing advice where necessary.
It’s a hard slog so to become certified felt like a nice acknowledgement of this and would boost staff morale.
How have you found the implementation of our lesson plans into lessons? Both from a staff and student perspective?
It was perfect for us to implement your lesson plans into lessons. Our computing objectives follow Bolton SICT framework and fall into 4 strands; Digital Citizenship, Digital Creativity, Computer Science and Information technology.
The objectives for the Digital Citizenship strand are taken from the Education for a Connected World Framework and therefore the lesson plans linked in with these perfectly. This meant that staff didn’t need to go finding their own resources – some of which may not have been accurate/appropriate.
Computing always creates the most problems for resources as teachers aren’t as confident in this subject and therefore find it difficult to differentiate between quality/accurate resources and those that aren’t.
Also, due to confidence, some staff tend to shy away from teaching the objectives that they perceive the children to be the experts in rather than themselves; the lesson plans have enough information in them to make sure that the teacher is the expert (or at least give the illusion of this!).
I know from staff feedback that that the children enjoy the lessons due to the fact that they’re up to date (children can sniff out an outdated Computing lesson plan a mile off!). They also really enjoyed the videos – the KS1 staff in particular enjoyed these.
If you could draw one positive from National Online Safety’s resources, what would it be?
Only one? That’s tough! I would say that the three most accurate adjectives would be relevant, up to date and motivating.
What is your feedback on our weekly #WakeUpWednesday guides? How would you say they’ve added to your e-safety approach?
As previously mentioned, they are the perfect way of ‘drip feeding’ online safety to the whole school community.
They’re easy to retweet and usually correlate with something that is happening at the moment e.g. ‘be kind’ or ‘cleaning your devices’ or about a particular app that has risen to fame recently.
It also acts as a reminder for me to tweet – sometimes it’s easy in a school for it to get to Friday and realise that you haven’t sent the school community anything!
How much of a benefit has the ability to undertake courses and training on an online platform, in your own time been?
All staff work at different speeds so the fact that they could carry them on in their own time was beneficial.
Also, some of the information has already been covered in school in other training e.g. what KCSiE is and its importance in schools, Prevent training, etc. So, the fact that staff could skip over this was helpful too.
From the feedback from our parents that have completed the course, they really enjoyed the explainer videos. They’re interesting and to the point and it’s easy to send out the correspondence to parents with the link for the online training.
How have you found the use of our new online safety hub? What differences have you noticed from the previous layout?
I like the layout of the new hub. It looks more professional and has a much more user-friendly interface, especially for navigating the resources.
The staff at school found the training easy to navigate and pick up where they left off. It is also extremely helpful to see where our school was in relation to achieving our certified school status and to see the progress of training throughout the school.
You recently achieved your Certified School Status – how rewarding has it been to be awarded with this?
Immensely rewarding! It has been lovely to share with staff. All of their hard work has paid off and it’s been acknowledged that not only did they complete the course, but their day in day out practice at school with regards to online safety has been noticed.
The caretaker put up the plaque as soon as at arrived in the post and it is now proudly on display in reception for everyone to see as soon as they enter our school.
We have yet to share our success properly with the wider community – we will be doing this as soon as we get back into school and I am considering using your press pack to get in touch with the Bolton Evening news.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
My next step in the new academic year is to create a ‘Digital Heroes’ style club where a small group of children take some responsibility for online safety at our school.
Finally, thank you very much for providing this service. It must be hard not only keeping up to date yourselves, but then making sure that this is then filtered through to your resources and the advice that you give us.
You have helped elevate the status of online safety at our school and I feel confident that our children are much safer than they would have been had we not used your resources.