Learning Safe Internet Use in Schools

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Digital technology has transformed the classroom and revitalised learning for children in all parts of the world. But exciting as it is, the new online world has its dangers.

Bullies whose misdeeds would once have been largely confined to the playground are now active in cyberspace.  A pupil’s internet research for homework purposes may lead them to unsuitable sites or even to make contact with an adult who is posing as a child.

Fortunately, the internationally celebrated Safer Internet Day (SID) is now well-established, encouraging young people, teachers, policymakers and the public to join together in ensuring the online world is a force for good, not harm.

In the run-up to this year’s SID on the 10th February, schools can make use of the resources provided by the UK Safer Internet Centre – including lesson plans, assembly presentations and drama activities designed for both primary and secondary school audiences.

Schools can also arrange for a UK Safer Internet Centre partner to come and run a session on internet safety for pupils – and, if necessary, staff and parents.

Key risks and advice

Schools are well-placed to promote safe computer use and alert pupils to the risks by reminding them to:

–    take care to establish the identity of someone who they suspect is not who they say they are
–    open files from trusted sources only
–    safeguard their reputations – this is relevant to older pupils who may soon be entering the job market

Schools can use blocking tools to restrict access to inappropriate websites, though at the same time children should be given a little leeway so that they can learn about safe use for themselves.

How the curriculum can help

Teachers in any number of disciplines can contribute to safe internet use, because many areas of the national curriculum have a bearing on this issue – from Computing/IT lessons to personal development (PHSE).  Interestingly, Ofsted’s 2013 report on PSHE education emphasised that to achieve an ‘outstanding’ rating a school must ensure that online pornography and social networking safety are properly discussed.

This year’s Safer Internet Day falls on 10th February, with the strapline ‘Let’s create a better internet together’.

If you would like help making your school’s IT system as safe and secure as possible, call the Serval Systems team now on 0843 636 6700.