Located in Blythe, Northumberland, Malvin’s Close Academy is a two-form entry school which caters for 435 pupils.
A subject that they feel very strongly about, is that of online safety and how vital it is to empower the whole school community with the knowledge to improve their proficiency.
For this week’s case study, we spoke with Laura-Jo Cavner, who is a Year 5 Teacher, but also a Computing Lead and Lead Safety Officer at the Academy.
Taking a proactive approach to online safety
With the online world rapidly evolving, it was collectively felt at Malvin’s Close that in order to be equipped, a proactive rather than reactive approach was needed.
Therefore, when searching for a comprehensive package which would benefit all, National Online Safety’s Certified School Membership was the standout option.
Laura-Jo said: “Because technology is constantly changing and growing, I think something new happens, sometimes by the minute almost; it’s very quick, and I think you need to act upon it fairly quickly to prevent things potentially happening.
“It was this time last year I was researching, with my role of being e-safety officer to look what staff CPD was out there, and that’s when I found National Online Safety.
“So, originally I was just looking for CPD for staff, but then actually this ticked all the boxes, because you’ve got; your staff, your governors, parents and carers and even children – you’ve got a range of people who are targets which I think is great. It’s kind of that holistic package isn’t it; where you’ve got everyone who can benefit from it.”
Deadling with topic-specific issues
It does seem that every day there’s a new app or game for children to play so, with this in mind, it’s vital that schools, parents and trusted adults all have the necessary knowledge to keep children safe whilst online.
For Malvin’s Close, our weekly #WakeUpWednesday guides have been a great knowledge base to tap into when providing information on the latest apps and games.
“Apps are kind of the biggest issue but, then the #WakeUpWednesday guides help us massively, because sometimes when the guides are released it hasn’t even reached our children yet, so we can kind of put a stop to it before it’s even started,” she explained.
“If you’re very quick, you can say; ‘this is the latest, this is what’s out’ and then we can sometimes think, well actually our children might not access it or actually we’ll tell parents in advance: ‘this is the app that’s going round at the moment – please don’t get your children on it’.
“I would say TikTok’s probably the biggest one. With apps, I don’t think you realise how serious and bad they can be until you see it through a child’s perspective. I think adults generally think ‘it’s a safe app’, but when you see it from a child’s point of view, I think that’s when the dangers arise.”
This year, Malvin’s Close achieved their Certified Status with National Online Safety, and it’s an accomplishment that everyone is very proud of.
She stated: “Really pleased. I think it shows how we’re committed to children’s online safety, but also staff as well. I think staff CPD is really good and it shows that they’ve got it and achieved it.
“I think it’s just awareness. When they’ve completed it, a lot of staff have come to me and been like ‘oh wow, I didn’t realise that this statistic is so big or this is so serious nowadays.
"I think another advantage is it’s always there so it’s not just a one-off CPD, if you want to go back and look at something, you can go back whenever. If you think you need help on this aspect you can just go back and look on the unit and it’s always there, so it’s not just one-off, it’s constant CPD.”
The hard work doesn’t stop there either, with further plans to continue to roll out National Online Safety training to the whole school community.
“I definitely will continue using National Online Safety – I think it’s really good,” Laura-Jo declared.
“It’s constant CPD it’s always going to be there to support you. There’s loads on there and I’m not sure if people know how much is there is – so I think just continue to keep going.
“It’s a really good programme and definitely something we’d like to keep up.”