Online Safety Mark Assessors’ Update Training

CPD For MeOnline Safety

Rodney Parade Stadium, home to Newport Gwent Dragons, called this morning; for an Online Safety Mark Assessors’ Update Training session and not for anything rugby-related, I hasten to add!

After helping ourselves to refreshments, we were welcomed by Ron Richards and introduced to a number of representatives from South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL) (, namely David Wright, Andrew Williams, Boris Radanovic and Will Earp.  Ron then provided 360 Tool, Online Safety Mark and Online Compass updates, as well as sharing regional figures and information about academy groups.  It was encouraging to learn that nearly 11000 institutions have registered with the 360 Tool and that Online Safety Mark applications were consistently around 70 per year.  Hopefully, a few more Gloucestershire/south Gloucestershire schools will be seeking accreditation and I can conduct further assessments before too long.

Ron handed over to David Wright to discuss the annual analysis of 360 data (state of the nation), which had been undertaken by Professor Andy Phippen.  This was not an easy task, bearing in mind the huge amount of data that has been collected and analysed.  However, David managed to convey the key points clearly and shared the below infographic with us at the end:

Probably the most worrying statistic is that 43% of schools have no staff online safety training (or are only in the process of developing this).  Often, schools invest more time and energy into targeting parents/carers than they do their own staff.  Teachers really do need to have access to regular online safety training if they are to keep abreast with technological developments, as well as the applications, etc. that the children they teach are engaging with.

David and Andrew formed a double act to talk about online safety updates, focusing on recent trends/developments from a UK Safer Internet Centre (UKSIC)/South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL) perspective.  They also referred to POSH/RP Report Harmful Content, the UK Government Internet Safety Strategy and SRE in some depth.  Gaming is clearly a fast growing and profitable industry.  Whilst it is frequently criticised for its addictiveness and encouraging ‘skin gambling’/betting, we must remember that age-appropriate and time restricted gaming can promote resilience and help enhance hand-eye coordination.  Screens must not be a blocker to other activities or seen as an easy parenting tool.  David and Andrew  also showcased how technology has developed over the space of ten years, but questioned whether the messages that we give out to children have really changed:

We were also prompted to check if any of our accounts have been compromised in a data breach.  My results were, fortunately, reassuring.

David shared another infographic that had been produced by the National Cyber Security Centre concerning Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) into both schools and the workplace.  We were told to look out for a statement (thought to be released shortly) from the DfE in relation to the use of mobile phones in schools in England.

Online harm, including the government’s latest Internet Safety Strategy to be launched in the next couple of weeks and reference to MOMO and schools/local authorities/MATs reactions, were discussed, in addition to the dangers surrounding live streaming and persuasive technology, e.g. lack of sleep; mental health issues; Snapstreaks linked to Snapchat; Instagram; sexting.  It appears that the ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ document is due to be revised in 2020 too.

Boris’ input, entitled ‘The story of the deepfakes phenomena’, was fascinating and hugely insightful.  He displayed a quote from James Patterson at the very beginning, which had a profound impact on me: ‘Assume nothing, question everything.’  He shared numerous examples of deepfakes with us; at times, we were unable to tell the ‘fake’ from the ‘real’ due to the advancement of virtual reality (VR).  What does the future hold?  It has made me seriously think about checking the source of all material that I read and reference.

Next, we divided into small groups to discuss two key aspects, namely the proposed changes to 360 structure/content and a possible structure model.  The original 360 tool was written in 2009. Subsequent updates have kept the same structure, but with updated content.  The recent update to the 360 Cymru tool uses a new platform, which Ron demonstrated at the start of this session. It is intended that the original tool will move to this new platform in 2019.  However, SWGfL are also considering more radical changes to the structure and content.  As Assessors, we were asked to suggest how we think the tool could be improved should these proposed and significant changes be introduced.  Ron put forward a possible structure model.  In our groups, we were expected to look carefully at this and come up with any changes/amendments/alternatives.  Assessors were very positive about the new model, suggesting only a few minor tweaks.

Lunch beckoned, which also gave the opportunity to network with other individuals and representatives from UKSIC and SWGfL.  Andrew and I talked about a future multi-schools event for Gloucestershire, perhaps being hosted by Lakefield C of E Primary School ( or another establishment within The Diocese of Gloucester Academies Trust (DGAT) ( and using activities and resources from the ‘health, well-being and lifestyle’ strand of SWGfL’s new EVOLVE curriculum.

With our thirst quenched and tummies full, we ventured back to our seats for a talk from Will about password security.  This was very interesting and has since made me change a few of my passwords!  Apparently, the easiest to remember and hardest to crack passwords are those linked to four objects or four items in a photograph (make sure that they are 14+ characters in length too).  You should also have a different password for each website.  We were encouraged to employ a Password Manager tool to help us remember our log in details  for various websites.

It was really interesting to hear more about new initiatives, such as UKCCIS  Framework – Education for a Connected World/SWGfL EVOLVE and the SELMA project, that are being launched.  Andrew has been heavily involved in both and spoke about the wealth of materials that will soon be available to teachers (EVOLVE) and the opportunities for young people to become more proactive (SELMA is very much about social and emotional learning, media literacy and citizenship).

As time was quite tight, Ron led the final session as a whole group discussion.  He invited Assessors to share information about their experiences when carrying out assessments, including examples of good practice seen and difficulties in judging schools.  The last assessment that I did at Lakefield C of E Primary School in Frampton-on-Severn in Gloucestershire was thoroughly enjoyable.  It is also great to see the school already targeting the agreed areas for development, engaging with the wider community and schools within DGAT to enhance online safety.

What a great way to spend a day in the company of such knowledgeable and experienced people!  Many thanks to all involved.

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