Image of Promoting and Teaching Online Safety in Schools

Promoting and Teaching Online Safety in Schools

Last week, the Department for Education blogged about how online safety is taught and promoted in UK schools. With the online safety bill being amended and strengthened in parliament and the ‘Teaching online safety in schools’ guidance having recently been refreshed, the British government is underlining its commitment to make the UK “the safest place in the world to be online”.

How staying safe in the digital world is introduced and discussed with children and young people is, of course, integral to achieving and maintaining that ambition. The DfE are therefore tasking schools with embedding online safety teaching in RSHE (and indeed, throughout the curriculum) in an age-appropriate way. Likewise, RSHE lessons will address related sensitive subjects such as pornography and how it presents a distorted view of sexual behaviours.

As we’ve noted, the DfE has updated its ‘Teaching online safety in schools’ document to support teachers – and is currently developing new guidance on teaching about sexual violence and harassment, including pornography and explicit images. Additionally, the most recent versions of Keeping Children Safe in Education make it abundantly clear that staff’s safeguarding and child protection training should encompass online safety.

What’s the best way to teach children about online safety?

While these directives are entirely laudable, they do of course place an increased burden on schools and teachers – not only in terms of sourcing up-to-date, relevant online safety information but also having the confidence to deliver such lessons and knowing which approaches to take with varying age groups.

That, needless to say, is where National Online Safety come in. Our award-winning, expert-led training and resources deliberately reflect DfE policy – meaning that schools in the UK can get significant support in ensuring compliance with statutory safeguarding duties, while overseas schools (although obviously governed by their own legislation) can feel secure in the knowledge that they are following a highly respected child protection framework.

At the fundamental level, we offer courses on teaching online cyber safety to children in early years, primary and secondary settings – and we also have a collection of e safety programmes tailored to specific roles, such as DSLs and deputy DSLs; SENCos; ICT leads and mental health leads.

How do you explain the dangers of the internet to a child?

Purposely developed to make life easier for teachers, our age-appropriate lesson plans for each year group (from early years through to Year 13) are directly aligned to the learning objectives from the UK Council for Internet Safety’s ‘Education for a Connected World’ framework.

Easy to follow, with teacher-led activities and independent tasks to support different learning styles – plus interactive videos and resources to stimulate discussion – they contain everything you need to get young minds focusing on online safety.

Ideal for broaching more sensitive topics with older children and teens, meanwhile, our library of insightful webinars will help to empower staff in areas such as the risks of students being exposed to sexualised material, issues around self-generated intimate content and teaching about sexual representations online.

What is the whole-school approach to online safety?

The statutory guidance ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ advocates a ‘whole-school approach’ to online safeguarding. In that ethos, all elements of the school are working together – not simply teachers and area leads but non-teaching personnel, school leaders and the wider community (including parents and carers). This fosters both a collective responsibility and a consistency of message.

National Online Safety can provide template documents to help you to enshrine the whole-school approach in your organisation’s policies – from the school’s own network security and data protection protocols through sample codes of conduct for teachers to policy documents on how instances of cyber-bullying are dealt with.

What’s more, our free parents’ courses (hosted by broadcaster and musician Myleene Klass) are an excellent tool for engaging parents and carers in the online safety conversation. Segmented by age group, these courses offer an accessible analysis of children’s typical digital habits at each phase – explaining how they interact with the digital world, what risks they might encounter and how parents can support them.

Our team constantly monitor UK government news feeds for updates – so as soon as, for instance, there’s even a slight shift in policy on teaching online safety or an update to legislation and guidance, we fine-tune our training and resources to ensure they continue to be in alignment. We stay on top of matters, and your school stays informed and compliant.