Blog by Mubina Asaria
Welcome to my first post! Two years into our e-safety project for Ealing and so much is happening, where do I start? We all know that the digital world our children are growing up in today is unchartered territory – the unregulated nature of the internet, compounded with a rapid growth in new technologies and online activity, bring with it inconceivable risks one could never have imagined.
Whilst the opportunities afforded by technology are abundant and life-changing, from innovative learning experiences to promoting social inclusion, as with every innovation, each opportunity brings with it the potential for abuse; today cyberbullying, online grooming and sexual exploitation are serious child protection issues facing communities everywhere. Let’s be clear – the issue is NOT about the technology, but the emanating and unconventional social behaviours that are fast becoming the norm, with research suggesting that the anonymity afforded by technology encourages riskier behaviour online. While young people may appear savvier when it comes to using the latest gadgets, it is evident that they can lack the maturity to manage risk, or foresee associated consequences.
With this in mind, our journey began when I piloted a multifaceted e-safety programme at Greenford High. By adopting a social, educational and holistic approach, the purpose was to bring about a cultural shift to promote positive behaviour online and safeguard young people from risk. Thanks to John Lyon’s Charity, we have been able to develop and expand our model, working across agencies to share expertise with high schools, primary schools, Ealing Police, voluntary organisations supporting young people and the local authority. Two years on and the feedback is incredibly positive, bringing with it a real buzz of excitement and innovation.
STOP PRESS: E-Safety Mark Awarded
We are delighted to have just been awarded the 360 Safe E-Safety Mark for the quality of work we do in this challenging area. The work the school undertakes has just gone through a rigorous assessment by Mark Baker, on behalf of the South West Grid for Learning. We came through with flying colours and were praised for the “depth… embedded nature… coherence of our plans and strong culture” that has been created. In particular, the work of our CyberMentors, students supporting students, was strongly recognised.
Over the few next posts, I will be taking you through some key areas of the project that have made an impact, sharing with you the successes and challenges we encountered along the way. Topics will range from implementing and embedding an effective CyberMentor programme to tackle cyberbullying in schools, to top tips on auditing e-safety within your organisation, organising a conference to share best practice, engaging with parents and the wider community, and addressing training for staff and governors. Do feel free to post your questions or suggest any specific areas you’d like me to cover – I look forward to your comments!