‘Change’ is a word which schools have become accustomed to over the last year, with the coronavirus pandemic impacting significantly on how children learn each day.
Naturally, a shift to digital platforms created certain problems in relation to online safety, simply because of the increased volume of time pupils were spending on the internet.
Acting Headteacher, Lauren Furness, explained the benefits of completing an initiative which ultimately led to the school achieving recognition in the shape of accreditation last month.
A heightened online focus
We recognise that as an educator and parent, it’s very difficult keep abreast of the latest changes to an ever-changing digital landscape.
Lauren acknowledged this and, in the same breath, alluded to just how much of a help our team and resources have been throughout what can only be described as a challenging 12 months.
Miss Furness said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in children spending more time online than ever before. Many families have had multiple children in the home working on a device in order to access their learning at any one time, making it more difficult for parents and carers to maintain an oversight of what children are doing when they are online. We recognise that parents and carers may also have been juggling their own work from home at the same time so it has certainly been a challenging time.
“There are also an increasing number of apps being introduced that it can be difficult to always keep on top of. Luckily, with the National Online Safety programme, we are able to access regular updates as well as user guides for different apps that we are then able to share with our school community in various ways, including via our social media channels. If there is an app that we are made aware of where there is not an available user guide, we have been able to contact National Online Safety and ask for this – they are a really valuable contact to have!”
Opting for National Online Safety
When it came to choosing National Online Safety, Miss Furness was impressed with the wide range of resources and training which could be accessed on the platform, for multiple stakeholders.
“I feel that National Online Safety provides excellent value for money as we can have up to 100 staff users in our package (including our governors) and then an unlimited number of parents and carers can also sign up. There are so many different courses that can be accessed on a range of topics and because it is all virtual, staff can access this at a time and place to suit them,” she explained.
“Our Governors are also able to access our package. The ready-made lesson plans and assemblies are another benefit of the package – these can be downloaded and used straight away, which is a great time-saver for staff!
“With National Online Safety, there is a one-off payment for the package which is great in terms of planning ahead and budgeting for online safety professional development. This payment then includes access for our whole school community. As it is all virtual, courses can be accessed on any device and at a time and place to suit everyone’s needs. The resources for pupils can also be located and downloaded to use quickly. Everything we need to support online safety is all in one place!”
Versatile lesson planning
Directly aligned to the eight key topics outlined in the UKCCIS ‘Education for a Connected World’ framework, our comprehensive lesson plans offer the possibility to teach online in an engaging and interactive fashion.
This was a view seconded by the Hartlepool-based school, who are looking forward to developing their use moving forward.
“Year 4 staff reported that the lesson plans were good. There’s a lot to choose from and staff are able to print these which are ready to use at short notice. This is great as it means we can respond quickly to any online safety difficulties which may arise.”
An accreditation is just the start
Validation came for West View in the shape of their recent Certified Status, but for Miss Furness, the award is only going to spur everyone as a collective onto further online safety empowerment.
“We are so proud to have received the National Online Safety Certified School Accreditation as it reflects our whole school community approach to protecting children in an online world. It demonstrates our commitment to ongoing professional development for all stakeholders – including our parents and carers – so that we can all safeguard children online wherever they are,” she stated.
“Moving forward, we will continue to utilise our National Online Safety package for all stakeholders and we hope to encourage other schools to join us in this. We will be utilising more of the resources across school and we will be further promoting and celebrating both staff and parental engagement with this.
“Our pupils will continue to engage in age-appropriate online safety education opportunities and will take responsibility for keeping themselves and others safe online.”