Saint Thomas More Catholic Voluntary Academy fully recognises the contribution it can make to protect children and support them in school. The aim of this policy is to safeguard and promote our pupils’ safe use of internet and electronic communication technology such as mobile phones and wireless connectivity. The internet and other technologies have an important role in the learning and teaching processes however, we feel it is important to balance those benefits with an awareness of the potential risks. This policy will highlight the need to educate children and young people about the benefits and risks of using new technologies both in and away from school. It will also provide safeguards and rules to guide staff, pupils and visitors in their online experiences. The school e-safeguarding policy will operate in conjunction with others including: policies for Good Behaviour, Anti-Bullying, Single Equality and Internet Access Agreement with parents/carers. The school acknowledges e-safety and e-security as important issues for our school community and has made a considered attempt to embed e-safeguarding into our teaching and learning using technology and have considered the wider implications of e-safeguarding beyond classroom practice such as security and data.
In line with the recommendation from the DfE, specific support for parents/carers to keep their children safe online includes:
- Thinkuknow provides advice from the National Crime Agency (NCA) on staying safe online
- Parent info is a collaboration between Parentzone and the NCA providing support and guidance for parents from leading experts and organisations
- Childnet offers a toolkit to support parents and carers of children of any age to start discussions about their online life, to set boundaries around online behaviour and technology use, and to find out where to get more help and support
- Internet Matters provides age-specific online safety checklists, guides on how to set parental controls on a range of devices, and a host of practical tips to help children get the most out of their digital world
- London Grid for Learning has support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online, including tips to keep primary aged children safe online
- Net-aware has support for parents and carers from the NSPCC and O2, including a guide to social networks, apps and games
- Let’s Talk About It has advice for parents and carers to keep children safe from online radicalisation
- UK Safer Internet Centre has tips, advice, guides and other resources to help keep children safe online, including parental controls offered by home internet providers and safety tools on social networks and other online services
The Government has also provided:
- support for parents and carers to keep children safe from online harms, includes advice about specific harms such as online child sexual abuse, sexting, and cyberbullying
- support to stay safe online includes security and privacy settings, blocking unsuitable content, and parental controls.
Every child at St. Thomas More CVA has their own login to Purple Mash, the online resource from 2Simple that supports our delivery of Computing and some other areas of the curriculum. The online world can often be a very challenging place for parents as our children often seem to know far more than we do! Use the link from the above heading to access an excellent guide for parents to help with their own knowledge when supporting their children to access the online world safely.
Login to Purple Mash with your child and search ‘Online Safety’ to try fun activities at home. If your child does not know their Purple Mash login details, please ask their class teacher.
Please use the link above to access an Internet Safety Plan that can be used by your family at home.
Social Media – minimum ages and tools to keep children safe
Minimum ages are in place for all social media sites to protect young people from online harm. Nearly all social media services require users to be at least 13 years of age to access and use their services. Parents should be aware that it is very easy for their children to download apps that their peers are using and then start chatting and sharing content with their friends online. They can also accept friend requests from people that they don’t know – such people may not be who they claim to be.
Advice from the UK Safer Internet Centre:
Our advice with regards to age restrictions is that it’s always better to wait until the required age to join any social media service. These rules around age relate to privacy, but also are relevant to safety. Some services offer additional protection for users who are registered as under 18, and by supplying a fake age young people can potentially lose some of this protection. Young people also risk being exposed to content which is intended for older users when they use sites that are not designed for people their age.
Additionally, if a service finds out a user is underage then they may delete the user’s account and any content which has been shared.
We know that social media services are popular with young people of all ages. Parents have an important role in helping prepare their children to go online before they start to use social media platforms. Together you can look at the key things they need to know about staying safe online, critical thinking, and the safety settings that are available to them.
When looking at creating a profile online with your child, have a discussion as a family and make this decision together – talk about why they want the account and ensure that any family members using social media know what tools are available to help them stay safe [including WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube].
The factsheet linked above provides details of useful websites to help parents/carers keep young people safe online, including information about setting parental controls and safety tools on social networks and other online services.
Follow the link above to the Common Sense Media website which has open and honest reviews from parents and children about online games. It contains useful advice on the age suitability of online games; the reviews highlight important topics such as online chat risks and in-game purchases.
Feedback from children in school on Safer Internet Day suggest that a number of children are playing Roblox online, Concerns have been raised about strangers having the ability to contact young people using online chats from within this game.
Similar to Commons Sense Media’s reviews of online games, reviews for other forms of media are linked above. Follow the link, select the type of media you are interested in, click ‘Go’ and then search for the title you wish to research.
St. Thomas More survey of online behaviours of KS2 children – February 2019
For Safer Internet Day 2019, our Year 6 children created an online questionnaire and then invited responses from all of Key Stage 2. All children completed the survey anonymously. Although, the survey has not been re-run in 2020, the findings and messages remain just as valid today.
The full background to the survey, along with relevant advice from the Year 6 students, is included in the letter below; this was also sent home to all parents/carers.