A hugely intensive, but highly informative and very thought-provoking day. Many thanks to Ron Richards, Ken Corish and Andrew Williams for sharing their endless knowledge, expertise and experiences so willingly. Participants were also forthcoming in adding comments and providing feedback to the presenters throughout the event too, which was great.
My, along with many others’, log in to Skype for Business went smoothly, enabling the day to start on schedule. Ron gave a formal welcome and introduction, whilst Andrew outlined the protocol, before providing updates on the 360 degree safe tool for schools, E-Safety Mark & Online Compass. Ron also elaborated on recent collaboration with NAACE concerning a joint E-Safety Mark/ICT Mark assessment and work that had been done with academy groups. It was encouraging to learn that the E-Safety Mark will shortly be re-labelled as the Online Safety Mark, in line with changes within wider documentation, e.g. from the DfE, Ofsted and local safeguarding boards.
Next, Andrew expanded on the success that has been achieved in Wales regarding engagement with the 360 degree safe tool in particular. The Welsh Government has shown a real commitment to online safety over the past two years. Aspects of the Welsh Government Project were shared with us … examples of best practice that could easily be replicated in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland should the same financial backing and support be given from the government. We must not become complacent … technology is constantly evolving and our behaviours are changing dramatically as a result.
Ron shared Professor Andy Phippen’s (based at the University of Plymouth) 360 data analysis with us. His in-depth review of the data from 360 degree safe reviews gives an indication of online safety provision in schools across the UK. His findings are clearly summed up by the following infographic:
Ken and Andrew’s combined presentation relating to online safety updates was incredibly well-delivered, interesting and insightful. They discussed recent trends/developments, both from the UK Safer Internet Centre (UKSIC) and SWGfL’s perspectives. Reference was made to the DfE’s documentation on Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) and Ofsted too. Ken’s knowledge is endless … I really do not know how he manages to recall every minute detail as he does and keep abreast with technological developments! Andrew’s background in schools prior to his online safety remit, alongside being a parent, means that he can truly empathise with the challenges Head Teachers, Senior Leaders, classroom teachers, etc. face. Their session provoked many comments and raised several questions from the audience … it was difficult to keep up-to-date with the accompanying instant messenger feed! As always, participants’ questions were answered honestly and confidently.
Before a much needed break for lunch, assessors were asked to access Padlet and use this tool to add comments about the current 360 degree safe content and template policies and give suggestions as to how 360 degree safe take-up/re-engagement might be increased. Delegates had some valuable feedback to give here … now Ron, Ken and Andrew need to digest and debate these further.
A quick lunch was all that was allowed as there was plenty to still be covered during the afternoon. Ken began by considering the evolution of the online safety message and changing age-related expectations. This was very enlightening and thought-provoking … I have lots to share with those who have oversight of safeguarding and computing when conducting my next E-Safety Mark/Online Safety Mark assessment.
Andrew drew the short straw, being given the rather dry, although essential, topic of data protection to talk about. Again, this was informative and gave much food for thought. Andrew shared recent changes to EU data legislation and focused upon the implications that these have on how we manage what is often highly sensitive information on safeguarding issues. As time was tight, he identified the main changes and outlined how compliance and effective practice could be implemented. The new 360 degree safe data tool from SWGfL was discussed in more detail too.
The team handed over to us for the final session of the day. This involved the use of Padlet, the instant messenger facility and having the opportunity to be ‘handed’ the microphone to speak should we wish. Firstly, we were asked to give feedback on any E-Safety Mark assessments that we had conducted, especially examples of good practice. Prior to the event, we had been sent four E-Safety Mark reports that had been completed by different assessors. We were expected to read these and make notes on a feedback form, so that we were ready to voice our opinions. Whilst a degree of personal preference might need to be taken into account at this point, there were clearly certain requirements that must be met for a report to be deemed appropriate. It was reassuring to know the reports I have generated have been of a very high standard!
Many thanks to the trio for a very worthwhile, engaging and reflective training day. We did miss David Wright, of course … hope to see him again before too long.