A successful community school, The Mosslands School, provides comprehensive education for around 1,100 boys aged between 11 and 19-years-old.
An area of focus in that community has been online activity and the risks which go hand-in-hand with the ever-evolving digital world.
National Online Safety have been able to offer expertise to Mosslands’ staff, pupils and wider school community; expertise which ultimately led to the Wallasey-based school achieving our Certified School Accreditation this year.
Educating children in a very different world
Adrian Whiteley, headteacher at The Mosslands School, recognised the central role which the internet plays in a child’s everyday life.
He said: “The children that we educate live in a very different world, certainly to the one which people of my generation grew up in.
“They spend an inordinate amount of their time online. Their social life is conducted online, much of their private life is conducted online – they are truly digital natives, and that means that they are vulnerable to pressures and problems that we as grown-ups are aware of.
“Online safety is an absolutely essential feature for any school’s safeguarding.
“If we aren’t aware of how to keep children safe online, then we can’t intervene effectively if they do get into trouble.”
Lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic brought with them medical, as well as mental, challenges – especially for those children who began to feel isolated.
Mr Whiteley explained how those wider challenges were concurrent with what pupils at Mosslands were experiencing, and the importance of providing the best support possible.
“During lockdown, lots of our children became, I felt, isolated. There are issues with mental health which have arisen because they have a portal into everyone else’s best life too,” he explained.
“If people are doing a good thing, they will share that online.
“Children who have been at home isolating over lockdown will look at all of these other children who are allegedly doing all of these great things – of course, nobody shares those mundane activities – and feel left out.”
Pulling in the same direction
Having National Online Safety by their side has brought everyone at Mosslands together and helped them to capitalise on that community spirit.
He revealed: “It’s helped to pull the way in which we talk to parents and children together.
“The number of training hours that people have put in ... the number of courses which people have accessed – it’s staggered us.
“There were a couple which we pointed people to, but we’ve exceeded that tenfold.
“It shows that we’re being proactive”
On reflection, Adrian says the accreditation is a fantastic testament to the school’s approach to online safeguarding.
“It’s great, but what’s more important is that for people outside our organisation, such as parents, the local authority and the community ... they can see that we’ve found it important enough to invest in,” he states.
“That’s what we’re most proud of, because it shows that we’re being proactive.”