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The teaching staff at Horsington take E-Safety very seriously, it is our role as a school to teach and inform our children, staff, parents and the wider community about the risks of electronic media, whilst at the same time realising the vast benefits that the internet can offer. The remit of E-Safety is huge, at the heart of it is keeping our children safe on-line.

Mrs Alexander is the teacher that is responsible for E-Safety. She is very passionate about teaching our children to enjoy using computers to aid their learning, but also helping our children to keep safe. By talking to our children openly, and in an age specific way she ensures that they are aware of risks, so that they know what to do when they happen. I am the governor linked to E-Safety. Collectively we are the E-Safety working party.

When we first started looking at this in the spring term, I said to Mrs Alexander “We live in deepest darkest Somerset, how could this possibly affect us?” But the more I have researched, the more I realise that the dangers of the internet are very real, and local to us. Therefore it is no good to bury our heads in the sand – as parents information is everything. Once we are informed we can encourage our children to use internet sites in a safe and open way.

You may think that this doesn’t concern you, as your child is young, however our children are growing fast and as they do they use technology more. Also the children can access the internet in so many different ways (smart phones, TVs, laptops, tablets, kindles etc).  We need to protect our children, as children naturally like to take risks. It is never too early to start talking to your child and keeping lines of communication open. The internet is huge and technology is fast evolving. At the same time electronic media is an incredible tool, which supports learning and is there to enjoy.

Common risks that we as families may encounter are:

CONTENT

  • exposure to inappropriate content (e.g. age inappropriate material (games, violence, substance abuse, pornography)
  • lifestyle websites (e.g. pro-anorexia, self harm, suicide sites)
  • hate sites

CONTACT

  • grooming
  • cyber-bullying in all forms
  • identity theft (including ‘frape” (hacking facebook profiles) and sharing passwords

CONDUCT

  • privacy issues, including the disclosure of personal information
  • digital footprint and online reputation
  • health and well being (amount of time spent on the internet/gaming)
  • sexting (sending/receiving intimate messages)
  • copyright

Age limits for certain websites are there for a reason, they protect our children, whether they be on social networking sites or on games our children play.  We can say no.  You can apply internet filters and block websites easily. You can apply time restrictions that limit internet access. If you are unsure of anything your child is doing/wanting to do online – you can Google website reviews, before you give your children access to them. Some internet sites are unregulated, especially those that are based in Eastern Europe, it is important to do your homework.

The school are currently very proactive in ensuring we are all informed. Mrs Aexander and the Governors have attended E-Safety courses, we are completing an E-Safety review, we are in the process of revising our policies that relate to E-Safety, this in itself if a huge task, and we have been taking our time to ensure that we get it right and ensure our policies are as watertight as they can be. We commissioned a Data Protection survey, have filters are applied to our computers, we talk to our children about how to stay safe online, and the school also took part in the safer internet day.

What can we as parents do?

  • Ensure that lines of communication are open with our children. Spend time talking to your children, we don’t let our children cross the road without educating them first. Don’t ban them from the internet if things go wrong, talk to them about it, and how it can be put right.
  • Read some of the links below. I would particularly recommend “Digital Parenting” produced by Vodafone. Our children are often ahead of us, and use sites we know nothing about. This guide tells you how to set up security, and what to avoid etc. Really useful practical advice.
  • Go to the “links” section on the school website, again there is plenty of practical advice.
  • Be aware of what they are looking at and when. Do they have access to the internet in their bedrooms? Are they spending too long on electronic devices when they could be outside with a box having fun? Make sure that securities are in place on all devices – not just your main home computer
  • Be aware that age restrictions are there for a reason – it is OK to say no.
  • Look at the statistics – they are shocking. Get as much information as you can, there is plenty out there.

The school are keen to support our families with regard to E-safety. If anyone wants any further support or advice please speak to Mrs Alexander or me. If we don’t know the answers we will try to find them out. If anyone has any concerns, please talk to the school.

Would you like a parent’s session offering practical advice on E-Safety, if you would let us know. If the interest is high this is something we could organise for the Autumn Term.

Some very useful places to obtain information are:

http://www.vodafone.com/content/digital-parenting.html

https://www.dorsetforyou.gov.uk/child-safety-online.

http://www.parentsprotect.co.uk

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