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Case Study: Online Safety at CATS Canterbury

Located in the historic city of Canterbury, CATS Canterbury helps to prepare international students as they take their next steps in UK-based education.

Offering first-class boarding facilities and a breadth of courses, they combine exceptionally high-quality teaching with a deep understanding of their students and their personal needs.

Students come to CATS from across the globe – but their vulnerability to online risks remain the same. However, National Online Safety’s Certified School programme has gone a long way to promoting online safeguarding at CATS. So much so, that CATS Canterbury was awarded with their accreditation earlier this year.

Covering every online safety base

Emma Wilkinson, who is the Vice-Principal and a Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead at CATS Canterbury, had placed a real focus on embedding a strong online safety culture throughout the school, as she recalled when she spoke to us.

She said: “I was tasked with looking at online safety for this year and making sure that we were really doing everything that we could to enhance our provision in that area, so to get the National Online Safety accreditation was really important to us this year.

“The pandemic and the digital nature of the learning the students have had to do this year enhanced our concerns around online safety. Because we have teenagers and they live in the digital world, it is our responsibility to look out for their wellbeing.

“Also, because they have friends and family in their home countries and the time zones are different, along with the apps that they use too, it means we’ve got a very wide range of software which the students are using.”

Upskilling all staff

In a fast-paced environment, it can almost feel a little overwhelming when it comes to keeping updated with the latest online and tech trends.

This is where some of our bite-sized training has come into its own for Emma and her staff; specifically in the case of our weekly #WakeUpWednesday guides and explainer videos.

“The guides and explainer videos are very good too, because the idea of micro-learning opportunities is a very good one. That works really well in a very busy college, where people don’t have lots of time to read through lots of detailed policies and case studies,” she explained.

“You’ll hear a student talking about a certain thing and you can go onto the platform, find an explainer video or guide and very quickly upskill your knowledge.

“That then allows you to have a decent conversation with the student, because you know what you’re talking about.”

An overarching approach to CPD monitoring

The last thing a busy CPD Lead needs is an admin-heavy CPD management system to contend with, which is why we’ve made it straightforward to track and monitor staff progression on our platform.

She stated: “The platform is intuitive and easy to use too.

“For me, what’s always a challenge is tracking and monitoring compliance. The reports which you can from the platform are excellent, you get a list of everyone who’s completed that webinar or CPD opportunity.

“It was lovely to be able to see just how many staff were going onto the platform and searching out some of the explainer videos, along with the guides.”

A demonstration of commitment

Emma says to have the accreditation gives a real validation for everyone’s collective efforts, while showcasing the school’s undeniable fidelity when it comes to protecting all of their pupils online.

“What the accreditation does is demonstrate our commitment to online safety and how seriously we take it,” she declared.

“The students live with us, so we have to look out for their wellbeing in every way, and their lives online are complex – it’s not an easy thing to tackle.

“However, getting the accreditation signifies how seriously we take it, and our commitment to continue to work on the topic.”


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