Headteacher's Blog

FEBRUARY 2017 : PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN ONLINE

During the last couple of weeks in school we have been talking to the children about staying safe online, including marking Safer Internet Day by running a number of lessons and activities across school. Throughout all this it became clear that I was not as internet savvy as I first thought and that children were engaging with and accessing apps and games that I and other members of staff were not even aware existed. This really worried  and even scared me, both as a parent and as a headteacher. If I am not up to date with what children are currently engaging with online it makes it even more difficult to ensure that they are protecting themselves and others from potential harm.

I have been trying to word a blog entry which reinforces the plea that in order to keep our children safe, parents and school must collaborate in a joint effort to ensure that our children are being responsible online.

However, any words I could have written paled in comparison to the interview on ‘This Morning’ with Megan Evan’s mother. Megan tragically took her own life after a secret battle with cyber bullying.  I would recommend that every parent, carer and adult that has any duty of care to children watches this to reinforce why continual education about ‘cyber safety’ is essential.

Please click here to view the video.

To reinforce this message I have taken the words from a blog post written by “Part Time Working Mummy”. Her passionate plea regarding our role as parents and carers again states everything, and more, that I could wish to say.

Check your daughters phone, demand to know all of your sons passwords...ensure that they are not enduring something that is happening in our children's lives every single day....Megan's mum tells how her daughter was happy, kind and fun...she wasn't a child with extreme depression, nor was she one showing signs of suicide, she was a just a normal teenager like yours or mine. I think it's just as important to educate our children on how people's worlds can easily be destroyed if they are the ones writing the nasty texts, sending the cruel Snapchats or joining in with the vile group chats. 


Children do all sorts of things to be in the 'popular gang'. They say things they don't mean and they compose texts without thought of the consequence because of peer pressure. The final message that Megan Evans received read 'why don't you hang yourself' to which she replied 'Ok'. That text was sent by somebody's daughter, a parent, just like me or you. It was somebody's child that wrote that text to another child - and after that text Megan carried out exactly what she had been asked, she was found a short while later by her family after she had taken her own life.

It is so true that all it takes is for the pretty popular girl or the good looking lad who excels at sports to be kind, to look out for the ones who are struggling. As soon as they are seen to be doing it others will follow suit. 

We need to be encouraging our kids to eat lunch with the girl who sits alone, to make the effort to chat to the boy who's anxiety is so evident every time they share a science lesson. We need to ensure our children are not joining in with the group chats about another girl’s acne or a boy’s weight...we need to make it clear that all appearances and styles should be accepted. It doesn't matter whether children are underweight, overweight, too pale or tanned. It's irrelevant if they wear Nike Air Max or unbranded shoes. It makes no difference if they're kitted out in Adidas or Primark. We need to instil kindness into our children so they pass it on - so they make it cool - and we need to be all over it, right now, tonight - because this week one mother has just buried her teenage daughter and another is dealing with the fact it was her child that sent Megan that final text.

In order to support you in keeping up to date with what your child may be accessing online I can highly recommend the Net Aware site. This site allows parents to search for apps to found out what they do and provides advice on how to stay up to date. 

As I have said before we can't (and shouldn't) fight the advances in technology that are becoming part of our every day life. The opportunities that they offer are endless and they will undoubtedly form a significant part of jobs and careers that our children enter into. However, we all need to ensure that our children are safe and responsible users of technology  to ensure that the internet is a positive place to be. 

FEBRUARY 2017 : SAFER INTERNET DAY (pART 2)

This Safer Internet Day we explored the power of image – both for positive and negative – in digital youth culture. Image and video sharing are powerful tools of communication, self-expression and creativity, but there can be pressures, risks and potential negative consequences. We need to ensure children have the skills, knowledge, confidence and resilience to communicate using images and videos safely and creatively.

With one class we looked at “Being Me” and talked to the children about how your face and how you look can be classed as personal information. This lead to a discussion with the children about what information it was safe to share online and what information may put people and children at risk.

The children were set a challenge of creating an image, emoji or cartoon which represented them and their personality which they could share online without showing their face. These are the results.

FEBRUARY 2017 : SAFER INTERNET DAY

 This Safer Internet Day we explored the power of image – both for positive and negative – in digital youth culture. Image and video sharing are powerful tools of communication, self-expression and creativity, but there can be pressures, risks and potential negative consequences. We need to ensure children have the skills, knowledge, confidence and resilience to communicate using images and videos safely and creatively.

As part of Safer Internet Day we spent some time looking at images on the Internet and focusing upon whether we really can believe everything that we see. We talked to the children about what might change if we looked “beyond the frame” of the image posted. In order to illustrate how images on the Internet may not give the whole picture or the whole story we showed the children this Powerpoint.

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Looking Through the Frame ppt.pptxDownload
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Once we had talked about how people can change and edit images to show a particular ‘version of the truth’ the children had a go at creating their own “beyond the frame” images.

This activity gave the children a powerful message about the images that we see on the Internet and allowed us to discuss the following points.

  • Have you ever seen a photo online, thought you understood what it was showing you, but it turned out to be something completely different?
  • What makes a photo confusing? What makes a photo clear?
  • What do we base our first impressions on? Why can this sometimes be wrong?
  • What effect might a confusing photo have on someone’s online reputation?

..

FEBruary 2017 : E SAFETY

As a preparation for Safer Internet Day (07.02.17) we completed an e-safety questionnaire with the KS2 pupils. The purpose of the questionnaire was to find out about how our pupils used the Internet in order to ensure that the e-safety curriculum in school was addressing the appropriate areas. 105 children participated in the survey and I would like to take the opportunity to share the findings with you.

MOBILE PHONES

Graphs to show results of questions regarding mobile phones

The top three uses of mobile phones were

  • taking photographs
  • texting
  • playing games

The main actions and work in school will focus upon talking to the children about the photographs that they take.

  • Who do you take photographs of?
  • What do you do with these photographs?
  • Who are these photographs shared with?
  • What personal information could you be giving away when sharing photographs?

SOCIAL NETWORKS

Graphs to show results of questions regarding social networks

As a school we  understand that it is increasingly difficult to keep up with the ways our that our children are using new and ever changing technologies. Our children are immersed in a society that has become dependent on powerful computers, including smart phones, iPads, interactive online games and virtual communities. However, many sites are created with their audience in mind and are specifically for those aged 13 and over. 

The main actions and work in school is to work with children and parents / carers to ensure that we are all aware of

  • potential dangers that are present on social networks as a whole as well as dangers that may be specific to individual networks.
  • the latest apps and networks that pupils may be using
  • actions that school will take if we feel that a child is at risk of harm as a result of their presence on social media.

Another result that supports the importance of constantly reviewing e safety is that 39 out of the 105 children who participated in the questionnaire stated that they either play games with or chat with people that they do not know or who are not friends with. Many children justify this by stating that they are "friends of friends" but as a school we will be completing work on the fact that these circles cane very quickly widen, as demonstrated by a number of issues that have hit the headlines recently.

Through lessons provided at school, assemblies,  and PSHE lessons, we do our best to provide our children with the awareness and knowledge they need in order to recognise and avoid dangerous, destructive, or unlawful behaviour and to respond appropriately. However, it is only through a collaborative effort between parents and teachers that we will succeed in creating responsible and safe cyber citizens.