Image of The Evolution of ‘Wake up Wednesday’

The Evolution of ‘Wake up Wednesday’

‘Wake up Wednesday’, one of our most recognisable and popular initiatives, is evolving. Once exclusively part of the National Online Safety arm of the brand, these award-winning free resources are now being fully incorporated into The National College. So, what does this mean for you? What even IS ‘Wake up Wednesday’? And how does it benefit teachers, parents, carers and children? Our blog has the full story …

Let’s rewind to the spring of 2018. Back then, TikTok and Fortnite had only been available for a matter of months. The words “Covid vaccine misinformation” would have been met with quizzical looks. Disney+ and the PlayStation 5 flat out did not exist. A lot has happened (to put it mildly) in the intervening six years – both in the real world and the online one.

Also back in early 2018, however, something else was taking shape – something which has kept pace with, reflected and addressed exactly the sort of digital developments mentioned above. Talking to our member schools in the early days of The National College, we continually heard how challenging they found staying abreast of the ever-changing online landscape and the rapidly evolving threats it generates.

We devised an initiative to produce high-quality resources that empower adults and help to protect children in the digital space – encouraging schools, parents, carers and children alike to ‘wake up’ to the extent of potential hazards facing young people online. ‘Wake Up Wednesday’ was born.

What is ‘Wake up Wednesday’?

Since its inception, ‘Wake up Wednesday’ has formed a fundamental part of our online safety provision. We’ve produced videos. We’ve created songs. We’ve even published a children’s storybook. The jewel in the ‘Wake up Wednesday’ crown, however, has undoubtedly been our information guides.

Each week (on Wednesdays, naturally) we’ve released a colourful, easy-to-follow and insightful guide to an aspect of the digital universe that’s causing concern, outlining related risks and suggesting ways to help children avoid them. It could be a video game, an internet-enabled device, an app or a more thematic threat associated with the online space. That’s what the guides do, in simple terms – although to us, that feels a bit like saying that Cadbury “just makes chocolate”. We now boast a library of over 270 guides.

Every guide is compiled with input from some of the most respected professionals and organisations in their field: Leicestershire and Greater Manchester Police, for instance, plus experts from the spheres of mental health, education, technology, gaming and more. The involvement of these hugely credible collaborators means that teachers, parents and carers can embrace ‘Wake up Wednesday’ as a trusted voice in the safeguarding arena.

And it’s a voice that’s become progressively stronger …

Social successes … and other victories

As well as being emailed directly to schools, the guides are circulated through our social media channels, allowing ‘Wake up Wednesday’ to reach a global audience. We’ve rejoiced in engagement from schools, district councils and sports clubs – as well as recommendations from law enforcement agencies (including, drumroll please … the FBI and the Metropolitan Police) celebrities (we see you, Rachel Riley), educational influencers (hello there, ICT with Mr P) and parent bloggers.

On top of that, our guides have won (or been shortlisted for) several national education awards. While (of course) we love that kind of recognition, what really warms our collective hearts is the weekly feedback we get from schools – telling us how much ‘Wake up Wednesday’ guides support teachers and parents to engage in healthy conversations with children about staying safe online.

Wednesdays to come: a new chapter

But this blog isn’t here as a self-congratulatory retrospective on the ‘Wake up Wednesday’ project. Like the online hazards it tackles, ‘Wake up Wednesday’ has to evolve and develop to remain at the forefront of safeguarding children and young people.

We’re about to enter a brand-new phase. ‘Wake up Wednesday’ will still – and will always – retain a focus on online safety, but these resources are now beginning to encompass wider topics and broader concerns, such as mental health, wellbeing and climate change. Every new guide that gets added to our website joins an online library which is fast approaching 300 items.

What’s more, the ‘Wake up Wednesday’ toolkit now goes beyond our award-winning posters. It also comprises access to high-quality parents’ courses; bite-size explainer videos to quickly get you up to speed; short films showcasing online safety insights, presented by Myleene Klass; and regular newsletters bringing you the latest opinion and analysis.

For schools. For families. For free.

Almost invariably, children and young people have their finger nearer to the pulse than grown-ups when it comes to the latest and coolest apps, games and gadgets. Our training and resources, though, help to close this information gap: giving trusted adults the confidence to discuss subjects which, initially, might have seemed uncomfortable or dauntingly complex.

For schools, ‘Wake up Wednesday’ is a treasure trove of material for strengthening children’s understanding of what’s been covered in class, plus advice from experts to reinforce your teaching. It’s also, crucially, a proven method of supporting parental engagement. For parents, ‘Wake up Wednesday’ is a way to get more involved with what their children are learning – and to increase their own awareness and understanding of topics they may know little about.

And the best part? Well, the best part is that our resources are “awesome”, “amazing” and “invaluable” (to pick three commonly used adjectives from our members’ feedback). The other best part is that they’re accessible online any time, from any device, and (very shortly) through our brand-new ‘Wake up Wednesday’ app. They’re also absolutely free for all parents and carers. Yes, you did read that right: free for parents and carers.

Unlimited access: maximum benefit.

We really believe in the value of creating free educational resources because we know the impact they can have in the real world – for real children. We believe strongly in the power of giving this knowledge to parents; and we’re confident that, once you’ve tried ‘Wake up Wednesday’ out for yourself, you’ll see exactly what we mean.

Check out our platform, and join the thousands of trusted adults who wake up to insightful, practical and up-to-date expert support every Wednesday.

Wake up Wednesday. Resources available in seconds; knowledge that lasts for years.