Should pupils have lessons about online dangers?

It was widely reported yesterday that the government have stated that the ‘draft curriculum for primary schools in England will, for the first time, include lessons on how to stay safe online.’ This announcement comes amid fresh concerns that explicit online materials are too easily accessible for young children.

Lucy Emmerson, co-ordinator of The Sex Education Forum, told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Breakfast that young people should become able to be critical consumers of media. They should learn what is appropriate and inappropriate for themselves and be very clear about what’s legal, illegal, violent and not violent. ‘Young people are quite confused about what consent is, and about what consent isn’t.’

In April, The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) passed a resolution that schools must give lessons on the dangers of pornography. And now, just weeks later, The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) found in a survey that 40% of parents think schools should teach pupils as young as five about the dangers of pornography on the internet.

The NAHT said the issue was troubling to teachers as they grapple with the impact of pornography on pupils' self-image and perceptions of sexuality. Russell Hobby, general secretary of NAHT, stressed that: ‘young people need to know how to cope with and avoid the distorted views of relationships that are displayed in pornography.’

Ofsted have also decided that secondary school pupils need more education on the subjects of pornography, relationships, sexuality and staying safe. They suggested that many schools were failing to give pupils enough information regarding sex and relationships, which could leave children open to inappropriate behavior or exploitation.

This controversial topic is never far from the news and very often divides opinion of who should be responsible for the welfare of our children when they are online – is it the parents or schools who should take the lead? In our opinion, it’s both. But what we mustn’t forget is that e-safety is not just about stumbling across an inappropriate website or finding an unsuitable video on YouTube, it’s much more than that. Ultimately, we must teach our children how to act responsibly and safely online as we would in any other situation.

Written by Safeguarding Essentials on May 21, 2013 15:25

What you need to know - privacy

Teachers need to become experts in offering age-appropriate advice and guidance to their classes, and parents, with regard to the following areas:

  • Unwanted internet contact

  • Inappropriate internet content

  • Privacy

  • Mobile phones and devices

In the case of privacy, teachers need to be aware of:

  • How to ensure social networking content stays private and doesn’t end up in search results years later.

  • How to ensure passwords are strong, password-protected information, such as banking details or parental online shopping details remain safe.

  • How to prevent and deal with junk mail and spam, and also how to spot internet scams and ‘phishing’ emails and messages.

  • How websites store and track data which might be used for valid marketing reasons, or abused to create spam or facilitate identity theft.

For advice in the other 3 areas download this term's report What every teacher needs to know about E-safety, available free to Bronze members.

Written by Safeguarding Essentials on April 24, 2013 13:42

Why do I use social media for professional development?

I often get blank looks from teachers when I discuss the use of Twitter for professional development. Blank looks from the teachers who haven’t “got it” yet that is! I am the only teacher in my school on Twitter but the population of teacher Twitter users is growing. I’ve been a Twitter user for over four years and initially, like everyone, there was the confusion and worry about what was going on. I was luckier as Twitter was quiet back then and now it must be a minefield for new people.

Let’s use an analogy to help. Imagine Twitter as a newsagent’s shop. If you go in and pick up the celeb magazines, you’ll find out about celebrities and their life. You can also go and find magazines on sport, film, education and a whole host of other niche areas. Twitter is the same. You can follow celebrities, pop stars, sporting heroes, or for the purpose of this post, teachers.

Twitter in itself is not professional development, but it facilitates communications with some amazing people with truly amazing ideas. Where else can I chat to Pie Corbett or discuss blogging with David Mitchell? For me though, Twitter isn’t just about the popular teachers with thousands of followers, it’s about the trainee teachers, the fellow year 3 teachers and the ones that are keen to share their ideas with an audience. There are many enthusiastic teachers sharing links, resources and suggestions all of the time. Finding them is often part of the challenge.

Who should I follow?

One way to begin is to follow a few people, look through who they follow and then follow those too. Following someone on Twitter doesn’t have to be a mutual thing, you can follow them without them having to accept or be your friend back.

For primary teachers, I’d start with:
@ianaddison – that’s me!

That gives you ten to begin with. Have a look, what are they saying? Is it useful? Sometimes a tweet that they send will be a re-tweet. This means that a user has seen a useful message from somewhere else and wants to share it with their followers too. If the same names keep popping up, then follow those as well. It is also worth going to and clicking on ‘lists’ on one of those users’ pages. Twitter users often have lists to keep up with the most useful information so that they don’t get overwhelmed!

Many users start by following, 10, 20, 50 people and then slowly this grows over time. Remember, it isn’t email; you don’t need to read every tweet. If something gets missed, don’t worry! There will be plenty more tomorrow.

I would guess that most Twitter users access it via an app on their phones, but you can also get Tweetdeck for Chrome and use the Twitter website too. Many of the apps are free or offer free versions so you can try them out.

But I have nothing to say! Why would people want my ideas?

There are many teachers who have this feeling and I know of lots that ‘lurk’ or browse through the tweets without posting any themselves. Think about the things you are doing in your classroom, could someone else use this or adapt it for their children? When I have trained teachers they have often told me that their ideas aren’t worth sharing, if this is the case, why are they being shared with the children in their class? Every idea will be useful to someone. Think of the main resource sharing sites online, there are lots of ideas that are brilliant but maybe ten-times more than need adapting or ignoring entirely!

There is also the brilliant Bring a Teacher to Twitter campaign here:

Written by Ian Addison on May 16, 2013 14:20

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