St Leonard’s C of E Primary School know the value which access to an online world can provide, but also recognise what potential risks could arise as a result.
We spoke to staff, parents and students of St Leonard’s to learn about how they’ve embedded National Online Safety into everyday school life.
Embracing a digital world
The coronavirus pandemic has seen an unprecedented number of children forced to learn remotely and, Headteacher Beverly Holmes says it’s important to use the advantage technology brings, while raising awareness of the subsequent dangers posed.
She said: “Technology is used to support whole class teaching, group or individual research, presentations which develop collaborative skills as well as software which utilises artificial intelligence to monitor and adapt responses to individual learners practicing skills.
“The online environment offers a wealth of potential when creating a curriculum which draws on pupils individual strengths and interests. However, pupils need to know how to navigate this safely. This environment gives them the opportunity to foster connections with the wider world exploring other countries, cultures and environments.
“Building on a period where many of our pupils have been learning remotely, the skills they have developed will enable them to connect with others across the world both now and within their future careers. This strength is also the biggest risk if pupils are not aware of how to manage their information and keep themselves safe.
“These same skills need to be prioritised by staff who need to be aware of how to safeguard digital information, monitor online safety, utilise technology to enhance communication with parents as well as maintaining a healthy work life balance.”
Embedding a culture of online safety
This is the second consecutive year in which the school has achieved its Certified Status, but with the Safe Remote Education accreditation under their belts too, they’re intent on going for a hat-trick next year.
Praising the flexibility of our resources, staff revealed that they’ve allowed for a fun but impactful approach to online safety.
“I love how easy and self-explanatory the resources are. It means that even if computing isn't the main focus of the lesson, we can still have the activity out for the children to complete independently in continuous provision because we have already introduced it,” said Year 1 Class Teacher Mrs R Bradley.
“The resources allow children to choose when they want to complete it but also they want to choose to complete it as well because they enjoy them. The children are able to access it at their level as well.”
Computing Coordinator and Year 5/6 Class Teacher Matthew Gaukroger highlighted: “The involvement from staff and parents has meant that we’ve had more people involved in our school community than we did last year. With the (Certified School) accreditation next year, we hope to make that bigger again.
“The package covered every strand within the new Connected World Framework, and it gave us something to aim for. The accreditations also allow everyone to receive up to date information.”
Wider acclaim and reassurance
It’s not just school staff who’ve reaped the rewards from our platform, with parents and children sharing their own experiences.
Bethany, a Year 6 student said: “Technology has become very popular and people need to learn how to keep their personal information safe. It is also important people keep and look after their own identity, as this is good for their mental health and future – when they want to get a job. Finally, children need to know about copyright and photoshopping, as it is important to understand that you cannot just take someone else’s content and to not believe everything you see online.
“Children spend so much time online and it can affect their mental health because of all the negative content on social media. People feel they need to change themselves because they see people with lots of followers and think they need to be like that person. Everyone should always be themselves,” explained Poppy, who is a Year 6 student.
Michelle Brunton, who has a daughter in Year 4 revealed: “I have used the #WakeUpWednesday resources to help work out what I need to be aware of with apps and platforms I am not familiar with, as well as using parts of them to help explain and reinforce my daughters learning and awareness in why she might not be able to use certain apps and platforms. With St Leonard's receiving these accreditations I feel reassured that members of staff know what to look for to help keep my daughter safe online and I know with confidence that she is being taught and therefore learning how to stay vigilant and safe herself.
Janine Parrington, whose daughter is a Year 4 student said: “The NOS App and online training has given me knowledge and insight into ways in which strangers can convince children to talk to them as well as giving advice on how to tackle this with my own child. I feel very reassured that the school take this matter seriously and our educating our children about online safety. Also knowing parents and the school can work in partnership with each other.”