The lecture on ‘Safeguarding and Wellbeing’ looked into a number of different areas: Social Inclusion, Happiness, Relationships within the classroom, Resilience and E-safety. I have decided to focus my blog post on ‘E-safety’, as it is an area of growing concern to many teachers I have spoken to. With the constant improvement and developments in digital technology and the fact that it is becoming more prominent in our schools and homes, it is imperative we keep ourselves up to date with developments so important to children’s education and safety.
‘Home use of ICT raised concerns about access to social networking sites, their child protection implications, and fears about access to inappropriate ‘adult’ material. These matters were addressed in the Byron Review for the DCSF which made recommendations for ensuring ‘e-safety’ including that it becomes part of the curriculum and is a training priority for new and existing teachers.’
(Alexander et al, 2010, p.354)
Teachers (and all school staff) have a role of responsibility and need to ensure that children under their care are safeguarded as effectively as practicable. It is vital that we prioritise the safety and wellbeing of children above anything else. One of the emerging challenges to teachers today is e-safety. As we know, the internet is one of the most useful resources we have available to us as developing professionals, but we cannot underestimate the dangers it poses to children who are becoming fluent in IT at earlier ages. The new online technology that is now available in schools can seem daunting to teachers but is not something that can be avoided. We cannot hide away from developing technology, we need to use it and encourage children to engage with it as fully as possible. That is why E-safety is so important.
There were 3 main areas of focus on ‘E-safety’ – the 3 C’s:
The Commercialism area was mainly about data protection – ensuring details were kept private and being aware of premium rate services online. Content was looking at how you could set out to ensure that the websites used were valid and that they did not access any inappropriate materials. Also, we discussed how you would address an issue if it did arise e.g. accidentally going onto a white supremacist site. It is not something we can ignore but an opportunity to discuss the dangers and what they should do when using the internet for themselves. It should be taken as a chance to empower the children as independent and responsible internet users.
The most concerning area of e-safety and the most commonly known is the Contact aspect. We looked at the dangers of Social Networking sites, predominantly Cyberbullying and Grooming. We then watched a video of a true story called ‘Jenny’s story’. In the video an actress told Jenny’s story explaining how she was groomed and ended up giving out personal information to a stranger online she thought was a girl wanting to be a friend, who ended up abusing her. The most worrying part of the story was that the stranger was passed over to her by a friend she knew. The friend was concerned about this person’s online behaviour, but neither of the girls spoke to an adult; no parent, carer or teacher were made aware until it was too late. The video to Jenny’s story is below.
I think that adhering to the teachers’ standards and building good relationships based on mutual respect in a safe environment would allow children to voice their concerns and talk more openly about any issues they are having.
The school I am based in for SBT1 are currently setting up their own VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) and have recently been giving out the usernames and passwords to the Year 1 class. This will enable them to interact with each other in a safe online environment. It is monitored by the teacher and she is able to see even deleted messages. This can be used as a tool to raise awareness of health and safety issues online, as well as being a useful resource for homework and more.
‘The key attraction of accessing such social software through the portal of VLE is that, to a certain extent, important issues of safety online can be addressed, as it is possible to regulate access and membership.’
(Allen et al, 2011, p. 171)
The overall message is that it is everyone’s responsibility to try and keep children safe online. Teachers must be role models to children and be willing to talk about mistakes and dangers online while remaining open and approachable. Parents, carers and teachers must work collaboratively to help children stay safe by educating them on ‘E-safety’.
Alexander, R., Armstrong, M., Flutter, J., Hargreaves, L., Harrison, D., Harlen, W., Hartley-Brewer, E., Kershner, R., MacBeath, J., Mayall, B., Northen, S., Pugh, G., Richards, C. and Utting, D. (Ed.) (2010) Children, their World, their Education: Final report and recommendations of the Cambridge Primary Review (1st edition), Abingdon: Routledge.
Allen, J., Potter, J., Sharp, J. and Turvey, K. (2011) Primary ICT: Knowledge Understanding and Practice (4th edition), Exeter: Learning Matters.
Teachers’ Standards (Revised June 2013)