Toward the end of the summer term 2014, I presented at the Nottinghamshire County Council ICT Subject Leader’s network. The focus of my presentation was on the successes of our school blogs and social media presence, and the road ahead. The network meeting had a wider theme of e-safety and I discussed how a blogging system and social media presence that is embedded in a school models acceptable use of the internet to pupils on a daily basis. You can read more about the launch of our school blogs and social media tools here. There are parents who regularly tweet and use Instagram with us, which models acceptable use at home.
A great tool which was shared on this network by a fellow ICT leader was the 360 Degrees Safe e-safety online auditing tool. This is a free tool for schools, and also a very thorough one! I have completed our audit with our partner school and the time it takes to assess your school’s e-safety policies and practises pays off with the report it generates. Our next step is to create an e-safety group consisting of teachers, school staff, parents and governors. We also need an e-safety governor. Once embedded, this could move our school from ‘silver’ into ‘gold’.
There were little steps that could be easily implemented too. For example planning the first ICT and PSHE lesson of each half term to teach the e-safety curriculum. Also, working with the admin team to review the consent forms and policies parents sign when joining your school.
For me the tool highlighted the need for modelling acceptable use of technology across all age groups and the sooner children can talk about their concerns, the better. This is the case for areas of learning like PSED, so it makes sense to work with the co-ordinator of that subject area to bring e-safety in to all year groups, across the curriculum and beyond the ICT timetable.
Where can we begin in Foundation then?
My class regularly Skype with children around the world, they use the class blog at home with parents and we talk about posting work on the blog each week. They see me do this in the classroom alongside them. Modelling that responsible use is the most relevant starting point, just like modelling good behaviour, manners and conversation. It gives the children the vocabulary to talk about technology too.
Let the children make mistakes on your iPads, whiteboards, laptops. Make sure they are the ones that come to you when a problem occurs, try not to rush in and stop them from exiting the paint package or website. Even if you call them over to talk about what isn’t working for them, it’s a great way to model that children need to talk to an adult when something on the computer isn’t going well.
There are a few good websites and resources out there to help you talk about e-safety in foundation too. A few story based eBooks have been published that are useful. The problem is that foundation usually gets pinned with Key Stage 1 with resources like this, and as we have a separate curriculum it can be frustrating when evaluating resources.
There is a great list of resources for teaching and curriculum here too, again this starts at Key Stage 1 though.
This short cartoon from CEOP is also useful to watch.
In terms of becoming a confident teacher who can talk about e-safety with parents, these documents are worth reading too.
Apple’s Parents Guide to iTunes (exclusively to iTunes users)
Parental Controls for Internet Providers from Safer Internet Org.
You could also signpost parents to ConnectSafely, which is an American organisation, who have published a range of a parent guides for technology, internet and social media accounts.
As with any kind of social learning, it is the good modelling in the early years that is most effective so the more experience children have of making mistakes in the classroom and talking about it, the better they will get at problem solving in the real world.