Aware of the rapid pace at which the online world expands and evolves, Lawnswood School wanted to empower themselves and their community with more comprehensive online safety knowledge.
Assistant Headteacher Fiona Gillbank explained how National Online Safety’s Certified School programme has benefitted Lawnswood’s whole school community and equipped staff to protect children online.
Describing Lawnswood School, Fiona began: "We're a large, comprehensive, inner-city school."
"We have 63% EAL pupils, and it's a very exciting melting pot of various cultures," she enthused. "We expect every pupil to aim high, regardless of how they've come into the school."
"We are a school of sanctuary too, so we have pupils from refugee backgrounds who have just arrived in the country," Fiona revealed. "That brings an incredible amount of diversity and excitement to the school; it's a wonderful place to work."
The importance of online safety
For Lawnswood School, it was crucial to ensure that they were staying on top of new developments in the online world.
"Online safety has become a huge priority," Fiona confirmed. "We needed a creative approach to respond to the challenges presented by learning and working remotely throughout the pandemic."
She recalled: "We were looking for different ways of allowing staff to engage with CPD: trying to put it in their own hands as opposed to us directing what people need to do."
A consistent approach to online safety was essential – and National Online Safety were able to make that possible.
Fiona explained: "We wanted to make sure that our staff had the skills and knowledge to understand the challenges that children are facing on a daily basis, in terms of online safety. Also, we were looking at different ways of responding to the children to help them through those difficulties."
Engaging with parents and carers
Pupils’ home life can obviously be a huge factor in preventing them from being exposed to harmful content and behaviours online, so Lawnswood School focused on increasing that engagement from parents and carers.
Fiona nodded: "When I discovered that National Online Safety provided a means of sending training and resources home to support parents and carers, that really appealed to me.
"We have something that we know is very high quality, short and concise,” she continued. “We can track if parents and carers are engaging with the resources too, which is great."
She elaborated: "We're at the beginning of our journey to engage with parents and carers, but from our perspective it's an exciting step - and it’s important to ensure that we’re involving the whole school community."
"Being able to track and record what we’re completing is useful, as we can see the impact further down the line." Fiona added.
"We’ve directed staff to complete some statutory courses, but staff have been looking at their own professional development too. There's such a wide variety of CPD available, and I can see that staff are engaging with it and upskilling in lots of different areas."