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Case Study:
Firth Park Academy

Case Study Secondary - Improvement & Inspections School Improvement Leading CPD Secondary - Staff & Recruitment

Conscious of the rapidly evolving digital world and the risks which exist online for their pupils, Firth Park Academy wanted to further develop their culture of safeguarding through National Online Safety.

Since joining as a Certified School, they have been delighted with the online safety training and education the programme has provided for the whole school community.

Elizabeth Cartledge, Senior Vice-Principal and DSL, joined us to outline the benefits she has seen so far.

Online and blended learning

Reflecting on the culture at Firth Park Academy, Elizabeth said: "Our aim is to help every child lead a remarkable life."

"We are a very diverse secondary school, with around 40 languages spoken by our students and family. We’re very rich in diversity and are very proud of that, in every sense." she explained.

"We've always taught the children about online safety," Elizabeth continued: "Due to the shift towards online learning and lessons, staff had to catch up to how well equipped the children were with online activities."

"Since we returned to school in 2021, we’ve had blended learning and some students are still working from home if they are isolating due to COVID," she commented. "This has meant that staff have had to learn how to teach remotely and how to teach blended learning packages."

"During that time, we've had to be really aware of how students can encounter online risks," she elaborated. "We've had to make sure that they are secure and safe, knowing how to use the technology too. It's been an uphill learning curve."

Joining National Online Safety

It can be difficult to keep abreast of the latest changes in an ever-changing digital landscape. Firth Park Academy appreciates the importance of a strong online safety education.

"Our MAT provided us with the chance to have the Certified School package. It's something I was very interested in anyway," Elizabeth stated. "It really fitted in with our development plan as a school."

"The reason we wanted to join National Online Safety is that we found there were very up-to-date online safety resources for teachers, to be aware of the DfE's ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ guidance particularly," she commented. "Things are constantly updated, and the Certified School programme allows our whole school community to be aware of those changes."

Positive feedback from all stakeholders

National Online Safety has empowered the whole school community at Firth Park Academy to keep children safe online. Elizabeth highlighted some of the standout features of the programme: "There are some fantastic webinars: really short and snappy CPD for all staff members."

"We can signpost our staff to the resources and training as they navigate the challenges of online learning," she said. "I think National Online Safety has some really experienced experts that do the training."

"It gives us another voice to listen to, and that's really important so that our staff have a varied range of speakers and deliverers of CPD." she continued. "It's been really great for in depth training."

Parents and carers can play a huge role in preventing their child being exposed to harmful online content and behaviours, so Firth Park Academy have focused on increasing that parental engagement.

Elizabeth confirmed: "Our parents and carers have found the training really helpful, and it gets them on board for having those conversations with children at home about apps, gaming and online safety."

Regularly updated online safety training and resources

Our training and resources are all designed in line with the statutory requirements for schools – leaving Elizabeth with no doubts when it came to the training’s validity.

She summarised: "For me, it's the staff training, up-to-date knowledge, and the fact that we can ensure our whole school community is aware of the changes in the online world."

"We have a weekly briefing with staff, and one of the highlights for me is that we can look at the resources from National Online Safety and provide information about particular safeguarding topics." she said.

"In a busy school, we don't always have time to reward staff for the training they do in their spare time, Elizabeth concluded. "With National Online Safety, staff receive certificates, and they are very proud of those achievements."

"Not only does it give them that reward, but it also gives me the reassurance as a DSL that they’ve done further training on specific safeguarding topics."