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Stay safe online

Stay safe online

E-Safety, Internet Safety or Cyber Safety – they all mean the same thing – keeping our children safe online. Educate meets the man who is making it his mission to do so.

The rise of the internet has brought huge benefits – particularly from a learning perspective. Pupils no longer have to slog heavy books around or spend hours researching in the library.

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The World Wide Web brings together an immeasurable amount of information on any topic you can imagine and as such is an incredibly useful tool for all pupils. However, as we all know, there is also a darker side to the internet – not least as a result of social media which, while enabling greater communication, can provide a platform for bullying and unpleasant behaviour.

Earlier this month children’s commissioner Anne Longfield expressed her concern for school children when it comes to social media, claiming young people aren’t always able to manage the emotional impact of it. So what role can schools play in addressing this?

Paul Bradshaw is a senior school improvement officer, working for School Improvement Liverpool, and is responsible for providing advice, guidance and support to all City of Liverpool schools in the specific areas of new technologies and online safety. Paul is also a member of the London Grid for Learning/TRUSTnet Safeguarding Board.

With over 30 years’ experience working with schools across Liverpool, having first started his teaching career working in the Toxteth area at Parkhill County Primary, Paul clearly knows his stuff when it comes to education. We caught up with him to hear his thoughts on keeping children safe online.

Tell us a bit about your role and what you hope to achieve.

Across Liverpool, I want everyone working in schools to consider the notion that online safety is about protecting children and young people whilst they are in our care and educating them for when they are not; and giving them the skills and knowledge to use the internet, including social media, in safe, responsible and respectful ways. I am constantly striving to make Liverpool’s children and young people more digitally aware.

Is technology a benefit to pupils or do the downsides outweigh the benefits?

I have a great belief that technology is wonderful – it can help us in so many ways, both personally and professionally; we just need to make sure that we guide children, from an early age (as well as signposting parents and carers) to the many benefits that the internet has brought over the 20 years plus that it’s been widely available, as well as making them aware of some of the potential risks and how to avoid them.

I want all Liverpool children and young people to know how to use new technologies effectively for a myriad of purposes and also for them to learn how to leave a positive digital footprint, reflecting their increasing use of social media platforms. You can follow my online safety thoughts at @SILesafety.

What advice would you give to parents?

•    Take an interest in what your child is doing online
•    Be vigilant – even if you have parental controls to filter, restrict and monitor content
•    Talk to your child about what they like doing on the internet
•    Encourage your child to tell you if they see anything online that upsets them (without fear of sanctions)
•    Know who your child is speaking to online
•    Set rules and agree boundaries
•    Make sure that content is age appropriate – apps and games, especially
•    If you use social media, model safe, responsible, and respectful practice, for your child to emulate
•    Remember you have the parental knowledge!

Upcoming Events

Tuesday 6 February is definitely a date to mark in your diary – a day for schools around the world to celebrate all that’s great about the internet! This year’s theme is “Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you” – the theme represents an invitation for everyone to join in and engage with others in a respectful way in order to ensure a better digital experience. Every school can get involved, just go to www.saferinternetday.org.uk and sign up for updates.

How can they find out more?

For more information, guidance and training on online safety, please visit www.schoolimprovementliverpool.co.uk.

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