Three years on and how time flies!

As our E-Safety for Schools project reaches its final stage, I’m delighted to share some of the highlights and the legacy made possible by John Lyon’s Charity.

Over the course of our work, what became clear to us was the need to address online safety through a whole school and holistic approach.  When we launched the project in 2014, our aim was to share best practice across three Ealing high schools through an extensive training and development programme, based on our tried and tested model at Greenford High School.  Following initial consultations with each school, we began by delivering specialist Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) training to designated cohorts of staff – enabling them to set up their online safety/safeguarding committees to build effective practice and address online risk across the school community.

A key element of the project was our School CyberMentor Programme, to create a student taskforce of e-safety ambassadors and peer-mentors to support young people around cyberbullying. As the project evolved, we extended the programme to nine primary schools attached to our partner high schools, with the aim of developing e-safety provision through their transition links. I’m delighted to say that we exceeded our target and trained up 13 schools in total across Ealing, including 523 student CyberMentors to support their peers and work alongside staff and parents.

Our work was commended nationally, when last year we were awarded the 360 Safe Mark by South West Grid for Learning.  I believe our success was ultimately down to a multi-agency approach whereby we were able to collaborate and benefit from the expertise from the local authority, CEOP, the UK Safer Internet Centre, Childnet International, and of course our school partnerships.

And it is through these partnerships that the legacy lives on. As well as launching the Ealing e-Safety Toolkit in collaboration with the Health improvement and School Effectiveness Team to support schools, we recently trained up 12 Safer Schools Police Officers around cyberbullying and sexting, to provide further support to schools and deliver assemblies.  To ensure sustainability and extend our reach, we also held an E-Safety Leadership Day to equip the remaining High Schools who were not involved in the project – this included a Train the Trainer Day, providing them with the knowledge and skills to manage their own school CyberMentor programme in house.

Over the last 3 years, it has become evident that in addition to the threat of cyberbullying and online child exploitation, the unregulated nature of the Internet has extended the arena of grooming to include the added risk of radicalisation.  So in response to our network of schools from our John Lyon’s School Partnership, we developed a steering group – ARISE (Anti Radicalisation In Schools for Ealing) – to support staff, pupils and parents to address radicalisation in schools, build resilience and promote critical thinking, both on and offline.  A key component from this was the development of the Ealing Prevent Toolkit for Schools, providing guidance around strategic planning, policy and practice, promoting British values and online safety as part of a whole school approach to safeguard young people from radicalisation.  The toolkit has received positive feedback from both Ofsted and the Department for Education (DfE) who have hosted it on their Educate against Hate website to reach schools nationally.

It has been an absolute privilege working with John Lyon’s Charity, and thanks to their support and funding, we were able to share the latest guidance from leading keynote speakers, showcase effective practice from our partner schools and provide the toolkit to 150 delegates from schools at our ‘Ealing Online Safety in Education Conference’ in November 2016.  Having pioneered the project from its inception, it was incredibly rewarding to see such a positive outcome on schools’ understanding of, and response to online safety in Ealing, thanks to the charity’s commitment to innovation and the positive impact on the lives of local children.  I will continue to work in collaboration with Greenford High and Ealing Council to expand the legacy through our school partnerships and training programmes – stay posted for developments!

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