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How to build pupil resilience by creating a strong digital safety culture in your school, college or MAT

Building pupil resilience is paramount for ensuring digital safety in schools.

By creating a strong digital safety culture, schools can ensure students receive an effective digital safety education within a safe digital environment.

Should the internet be locked down in schools?

It might be tempting to remove anything that might seem in harm’s way to risk-guard against every eventuality.

Working in a busy school, you will be aware of incidents that have taken place amongst your pupils, and even if serious incidents haven’t occurred in school, you will certainly have heard about stories of students involved in county lines, child grooming, radicalisation, gang violence; all with the online world playing a significant part in the process.

The reality is that the majority of your students will be constantly switched on in this online world whether it is available on the school network or not. Most will have at least one accessible device in their household.

The online space is also one of the biggest opportunities for students in modern times. Access to innovative and exciting educational resources will heighten pupil engagement and provide access to research that would never have been stored in the school library.

Building student resilience through a strong digital safety culture in schools

The key to digital safety comes through creating a strong digital safety culture in schools. Building a culture will involve planning a combination of safety elements that complement each other. It will need to include a strong education programme in digital safety for staff and students alongside digital safety systems that will support a building in resilience.

Schools will need to ensure that their digital safety education allows students to comprehensively explore the types of risks they might be exposed to online. They should understand what dangerous communication can look like and learn to reflect before posting or sharing anything in the digital environment that may lead to harm for either themselves or others.

Digital safety systems are essential for keeping the school digital environment protected but also providing good usability so that students have enough interaction with the online space to grow in confidence and resilience.

“Research found that schools in which students took part in an online cyber mentoring programme reported “reductions in violence and absence, and increases in confidence, good behaviour and pupil relationships with each other”.

Creating a digital safety culture in schools enables a controlled and safe digital environment

In the report Resilience for the Digital World published by Young Minds, their researchers found that exploring the online environment in a controlled setting would help to build student resilience; “There is a compelling argument for creating opportunities that allow young people to take appropriate controlled risks within safe limits.”

By schools having strong digital safety systems in place, they can allow wide access to the internet so that pupils can build in resilience. Using an effective school firewall and content filter will ensure safe access whilst not over-blocking, digital monitoring and classroom management systems can make sure any risks that arise are detected, and digital safeguarding records can store and make easy reports of any safeguarding incidents.

How to create a strong digital safety culture in schools

The benefits of creating a strong digital culture in schools will include more resilient students and better educational outcomes. To discover more about how to create a strong digital safety culture in your school, see How to build a digital safety culture for the whole school community.

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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