St. Helena’s Church of England Primary School is a small rural school and nursery, based on the outskirts of Alford. Having joined National Online Safety just a few months ago, they are relatively new to the world of online safety: but, with Year 6 teacher and online safety lead Joshua Goddard leading the way, they have already achieved a Certified School Accreditation.
For this week’s case study, we spoke to Joshua to find out how he and the rest of the staff at St. Helena’s were able to put online safety at the centre of their curriculum.
An appetite for exploration
Based in the village of Willoughby, this tiny school – which consists of only 140 pupils - is surrounded by history. When quizzed on the background of the local area, Mr. Goddard explained that it is the birthplace of explorer and colonial explorer John Smith.
“We usually have a lot of people coming over from America around thanksgiving time and seeing his birthplace - It’s a big part of American history as well as local history.” He said.
“We’re a tiny little village that doesn’t even have a shop, but we do have that sort of local history, which is great!”
Despite its size, the staff at St. Helena’s still have a global outlook when it comes to education. Mr. Goddard believes that this attitude must include online safety, as his students are growing up in a thoroughly digitised world.
“It’s our mission as a school to prepare our children for the future, as well as preparing them for now.” He said.
“Online safety is something that’s going to be more relevant in their lives than many other things for the foreseeable future - it’s all about setting them up, not just for secondary school, but for adulthood, with that core knowledge and that security of online safety.”
Captain John Smith: an explorer with roots close to the school
This knowledge includes things like how to behave online and respond to risks, as well as how to search and use devices safely. According to Mr. Goddard, students are introduced to these skills from as young as five, thanks to resources from National Online Safety.
“We’re following a really modern and up to date scheme of work, and we’re trying to link online safety to every element of the curriculum – so, whenever we’re using technology, even when it’s not a computing lesson, we’re ensuring that we’re going over the rules with the children and refreshing our knowledge all the time.”
As citizens of this online world, Mr. Goddard also believes that children should often ‘take the lead’ when it comes to online safety – although adults do need to be informed enough to guide them.
“The best information you can get about what’s happening in the digital world is from the children themselves. They are the ones that are accessing it and they are the ones that are talking about it.” He explained.
“We have got a school council – we call it a school government – with ministers in different roles.
“We have a minister for Online Safety, and the idea is that in the next week or so, that student will shadow me and they will become the child that is responsible for setting an example and raising the profile of online safety around the school.”
The students at St Helena's pose with their hard-earned National Online Safety certificate
Everyone playing their part
Whilst the children are encouraged to take an active role in keeping themselves safe online, Mr. Goddard also stresses the importance of ensuring that adults are properly informed.
He argues that for students to be safe around the clock, parents also need to feel confident in understanding and using the latest apps, devices, and games. In this sense, a membership to National Online Safety has been a big plus.
“We send guides out to parents weekly - the #WakeUpWednesday guides. We try to send them out as they come, but as a new issue comes out – for example I’ve sent the TikTok guide out two or three times now – we just want to signpost parents to something relevant.
“Also, the parents are very aware that there is a member of staff that is online safety conscious (that’s me!) so they know that they can contact me if they’ve got any concerns, which is always nice.”
Everyone in the school community plays their part to stay up-to-date on the latest online safety guidance – including Headteacher Mrs. Belton, who downloads the latest #WakeUpWednesday guide each week.
A glowing recommendation
Having gained the National Online Safety accreditation after a matter of months, the online safety provision at St. Helena’s is a testament to Mr. Goddard’s passion for keeping the whole community safe online.
“It’s incredible that we’ve got some recognition for all the hard work that’s going on, and some recognition for the children’s knowledge. To be recognised for our work around online safety, under these circumstances, is amazing - we’re all happy and proud of ourselves for that.”
He recommends that those looking to start their own online safety journey should sign their school up to National Online Safety.
“It honestly has been the best resource. The consistency that the lesson plans have, the activities and the progression have all been so fantastic.
“The other great thing is that it’s so up to date. With many other resources, the content and references are outdated – they just don’t reflect modern trends like National Online Safety do.”