The Internet has brought many benefits to education over the last few years, which we as a school have sought to embrace. But we are mindful that there is a dark side to the Internet. Many people in society use this virtual world without the care and attention they would normally apply in the real world. For some people, this has either cost them their lives or devastated their whole being.
The fact of the matter is that this virtual world is part of the real world and we need to be sure that our school community is equipped to better protect us from these real dangers. In recent years, these real dangers have been exacerbated with the advent of web 2 technologies. Students are no longer passive participants in the use of the Internet but are now a dynamic component, offering valuable educational benefits throughout the curriculum. With this extension to web 2 technologies comes the duty for schools to understand the additional e-safety issues, recognising its role in helping children to remain safe online, whilst supporting adults who care for our students in the school. E-Safety is all about limiting risk to students whilst using any form of ICT including fixed, mobile, gaming devices and emerging technologies.
In the early years of e-safety, the concept of providing a safe garden wall within which the student could explore was seen as the answer, keeping out inappropriate content and contact with people who may pose a risk. An analogy might be that of a swimming pool. To protect children one could install locks, fences, mesh over the water and pool alarms to keep children safe. However, would the goal of teaching children how to swim safely be appropriate?
This term all teaching staff have received e-safety training to enrich their understanding on how they can better promote e-safety within the school to equip our students to safely navigate the virtual world.
The school’s e-safety group has been extended to include many of the staff who have joined the school this year. For the first time students will be invited to join the group to give them a voice to encompass their rich experiences when using the virtual world in such things as Facebook. The school will carry out another audit to ensure it is doing all it can to educate our students to keep safe in the cloud.