Improving teaching and learning by creating a strong digital safety culture in your school

With social media connecting 94.8% of 12-15-year olds, and with overall digital use ever-expanding, schools have a great opportunity to optimise learning and improve student outcomes.

Reasons for students underachieving within school can vary. They might include a failure to engage in learning or adverse experiences that impact on their school life.

How can a strong Digital Safety Culture in schools improve Engagement in learning?

Behavioural issues or an inability to access learning resources may impact on the overall achievement of a student. A strong digital safety culture in schools will help to optimize student engagement. This can be achieved by improving the digital learning environment:

  • Content filtering: The right filter can improve teaching and learning by working in real-time, allowing wider access to learning resources. By being able to teach lessons in environments that pupils can identify with, pupil engagement will rise. For instance, many politicians use social media to communicate. A political project could raise student engagement by having a controlled approach to social media on the school network.
  • Digital Monitoring: If a teacher is responsible for monitoring all pupils’ screens for safeguarding concerns, it will disrupt teaching and learning. Teachers need to be able to concentrate on teaching! By having effective digital monitoring in place, all safeguarding concerns will be picked up by digital monitoring and a DSL will be automatically informed and provided with evidence without a teacher having to be distracted during a lesson.
  • Classroom Management: Improves teaching and learning by ensuring all pupils are on task. Teachers are in full control. They can lock all screens to enable ‘all eyes up’, share a screen with the whole class so that work can be analysed and compared, and can instantly spot a pupil off task by having an all screen view. These tools will improve focus and enable students to enhance their achievement.

 

How can a strong digital safety culture in schools reduce harm and identify children in need?

A strong digital safety culture can improve student resilience so that less pupils come to harm and can help identify children in need of help. Adverse experiences can often be at the root of why a child fails to reach their target performance.

These may include:

  • Exposure to bullying.
  • Depression and anxiety issues.
  • Dangerous contact through child sexual or criminal exploitation.
  • Self-harm behaviours.
  • Illegal drug-use.
  • School refusal due to dangerous influence (county lines, radicalisation etc).

To meet the above needs, a strong digital safety culture in schools will include up-to-date digital safety education, digital monitoring and digital safeguarding records.

Education: Harm to pupils will be reduced by pupils understanding the risks that can be met in the online space. They can learn how to deal effectively with online relationships, the correct approach to content and the importance of understanding their digital footprint. By widening their digital safety education, pupils will grow digital resilience over time.

Digital Monitoring: Effective digital monitoring will help to identify students at risk of adverse experiences. It may highlight a student searching for self-harm sites, it might catch a message about a threat of violence or a drug deal etc. By tacking issues at an early stage, students can be helped sooner, and overall learning outcomes can be improved.

Digital Safeguard Records: Using digital safeguard records will ensure that safeguarding issues are not missed, and that follow-up is tracked. Good solutions will also enable schools to tag whole groups of students such as ‘child in need’. These records will improve teaching and learning by ensuring safeguarding issues are followed up effectively so that students are more supported from the effects of adverse experiences.

Creating a digital safety culture in schools

A strong digital safety culture in schools involves the whole school community. Pupils need to know how to keep safe, parents need to know the risks, teachers need good safety systems in place, leadership need efficient safeguarding management and IT need all systems to work together.

Getting the digital safety culture right in schools can improve pupil engagement, safeguarding and overall educational outcomes. Read How to build a digital safety culture for the whole school community to see how schools are implementing a robust digital safety strategy.

If you have any questions about any aspect of online safety in your school, get in touch with the Smoothwall team today. We’d be delighted to help.

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