Well, like many other things, the Online Safety Mark Assessor Update Training went virtual this year. Not quite the same as all being in one room and chatting with individuals face-to-face, but still high-quality delivery and up-to-date information relayed from representatives based at SWGfL and the UK Safer Internet Centre (UKSIC).
The day began with a welcome, introductions and protocols from Ron Richards and Andrew Williams. Ron then explained about the recent revisions made to the 360 degree safe self-review tool, provided us with an update on Online Safety Mark applications and awards, as well as outlining the considerations for academy groups.
Next, David Wright shared information from the detailed 360 degree safe tool analysis, which had been conducted by Professor Andy Phippen. The data gathered from 360 degree safe self-reviews completed by schools gives a real insight into online safety provision in educational establishments within the UK. David also discussed the proposed updates to UKSIC’s appropriate filtering and monitoring guidance for education settings.
After a short comfort break, we reconvened to be updated about online safety by David, Andrew and Ken Corish. Between them, they referred to recent trends, developments and helpline updates from a UKSIC and SWGfL perspective. They had a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share with us; several individuals requested a summary of all the online safety updates and useful web-links and resources, so that we could guide others quickly and easily.
After another ten-minute break, Ron discussed how Online Safety Mark assessments had gone virtual and Jane Key was placed in the ‘hot seat’ to talk about her experiences of assessing remotely in 2020 and again this year. She had a number of tips to share with us and these provoked many questions and comments to be added to the chat feed, which were duly answered or expanded upon by her and Ron. The feedback from remote Online Safety Mark assessments, both from Assessors’ and schools’ viewpoints, has been very positive; perhaps, there is a place for offering either a virtual or face-to-face assessment in the future once Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted? We then split into two groups; one led by Andrew for Assessors based in Wales and the other led by Ron, Ken and Tim Bleazard for those Assessors in other parts of the UK. Here, we heard more about 360 degree safe self-review tool aimed at community groups and Early Years settings, in addition to the Scottish version of the tool.
Half an hour had been allocated for a screen break and lunch. On our return, Ken walked us through the fantastic, and unique, Project Evolve. Many of us had last viewed this in its beta version, so were really impressed by the huge amount of content that had since been added and the scope that the toolkit has. And, this is still very much work in progress! This needs to be embedded into future Online Safety Live events so that schools are fully aware of its potential.
Ken and David led an open discussion regarding opportunities for accredited online safety training with schools. Delegates were very forthcoming with unmuting themselves or adding comments to the chat feed to express their thoughts and ideas. We certainly gave those at UKSIC and SWGfL plenty to ponder!
Finally, Andrew ended with some good news. The UKSIC and SWGfL were recently successful in securing a tender put forward by the DfE to create a cyber self-review framework for schools (360 Secure). This needs to be ready for Autumn 2021, so there is clearly a lot to be done in a very short space of time. Assessors are likely to be consulted in a few weeks’ time, so we were told to monitor our inboxes very carefully!
Ron brought the training to a close, and judging by the concluding comments that appeared in the chat feed, all had found it to be as useful and enjoyable as I had.
Many thanks to Ron and ‘the gang’ for such a jam-packed, insightful and relevant training day. Online safety should be of paramount importance and feature within all school development plans, especially bearing in mind the surge in remote/home-learning over recent months, and quite possibly for some time ahead.