Doha College, a world-leading international school in Qatar, has an outstanding reputation for academic achievement.
A keen area of focus for school has been digital learning and online safety. National Online Safety have been able to offer expertise to staff, parents and the wider school community; knowledge which ultimately led to Doha College achieving Certified School Accreditation this year.
Teresa Mention (Head of Digital Learning, Secondary) and William Hanrahan (Head of Digital Learning, Primary) joined us to discuss how Doha College has benefited from our Certified School Membership.
Explaining more about their situation, William began: "Doha College is a world-leading British international school in Qatar. It's one of the top international schools in the world, and two years ago we moved to our brand-new campus."
He recalled: "We've undergone a lot of change over the past few years and marked our 40-year anniversary in 2020."
Digital learning and safeguarding
Teaching children how to use technology safely is of the utmost importance to Doha College.
Teresa explained: "We’re a very digitally active school. Every student has an iPad – from Year 3 up to Year 12.
"We take digital learning very seriously. It's integrated into every lesson and spread right across the school." she added. "We like to be innovative and creative with our use of technology."
Teresa elaborated: "The move to remote and blended learning has really pushed digital learning to the forefront of everyone's minds - particularly parents. For us, the pandemic has really highlighted the importance of digital learning and safeguarding."
"The internet changes on a daily basis,” she reasoned, “and it's important for our whole school community to be kept up-to-date with all of the latest trends.
"For us, it was about up-to-date, comprehensive training materials,” Teresa outlined. “We found that National Online Safety had such a wealth of resources that we can draw upon as educators, to really inform the whole school community."
Choosing National Online Safety
For Doha College, it was crucial to make sure they were staying abreast of new developments in the online world.
When it came to choosing National Online Safety, the whole school community was impressed with the range of resources and training which multiple stakeholders could access on our platform.
"The school leadership team saw a lot of value in National Online Safety," William confirmed. "We started to look at the resources and training, considering how we could use them."
He revealed: "One of the things that I found really useful was the podcast with JESS Dubai. They're a very forward-thinking, similar school, who are extremely digital too.
“I listened to the whole thing, to get an idea of how they implemented National Online Safety in a very similar setting. I found the podcast series really useful to figure out what our next steps were as a school," he nodded.
Parents and carers obviously have a vital role in preventing their children from being exposed to harmful content and behaviours online. Doha College focused on increasing that parental engagement.
Teresa confirmed: "We have a lot of questions from parents about how much time their children should be spending online, how to manage social media use and how to put parental controls in place too."
National Online Safety’s weekly #WakeUpWednesday guides aim to provide teachers, parents and carers with handy, concise tips on the latest apps, games and devices that children are using.
"A lot of the #WakeUpWednesday guides are extremely useful,” Teresa agreed. "They're really well designed, and the graphics are fantastic."
She added: "Parents have been given access to the platform and find that very easy to navigate. There haven't been that many online safety issues, but using National Online Safety helps the children to understand how they should behave online: that their behaviour online is just as important as how they behave in the classroom."
"We did an internet safety and wellbeing week, which coincided with Safer Internet Day,” Teresa revealed. "That was important to train the whole school community and make them aware of expectations. Parents seem really grateful that we take online safety seriously and that we're educating the whole school community."
"They now feel empowered to go out and find that information themselves," William concurred.
Award-winning training and resources
At National Online Safety, we regularly update our resources and training – so that all our member schools can be confident they’re up to date with the latest developments in the digital world.
William smiled: "One of the things that I love about National Online Safety is that – through the app – you effectively have an expert in your pocket, on your mobile device."
He enthused: "I can point colleagues to your resources and training: there's so much information on screen addiction, TikTok, Snapchat and so on. Parents are now empowered to look at online safety issues themselves, and teachers have that toolkit they need to inform parents."
A collective sense of pride
Reflecting on Doha College’s achievement, Teresa looked back on an overwhelming feeling of pride for the whole school community.
She recounted: "We shared our Certified School Accreditation news across all of our social media platforms. We’re really proud of that achievement, and it shows our commitment to digital safeguarding."
William felt likewise: "I think that's one of the things that I am particularly proud of, too. It's the buy-in from the whole school community: we were really determined that it was going to be a serious commitment."
"There's so many different resources to draw upon,” he said. “There isn't another website that I'm aware of which has such a comprehensive range of training and resources that are created so well."
"A big benefit has been the increased confidence of our staff, in the Primary School in particular," he concluded.