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14 Oct 2016

Farewell to the 2016 #SmoothwalleSafetyRoadshow

As the curtains close on our final eSafety masterclass in London, we take a look back at the success of our #SmoothwalleSafetyRoadshow.

The decision to embark on the eSafety journey was made as we were noticing the shift in requirement for safeguarding to be understood by Network and IT Managers as more and more issues surrounding online safety were arising.

With the requirements outlined by the Prevent Duty and the new statutory guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education, there are increasing pressures on school leaders and caregivers to protect children from threats online such as radicalisation, grooming, bullying and abuse.

Because of this, we recognised that our customers were turning to third parties for help, and we wanted to align ourselves with their needs and give them the answers that they were looking for.

We decided to test the water and hold an eSafety masterclass in our hometown of Leeds, but we quickly reached capacity with registrations from across the UK, including not only Yorkshire but Northumberland and Lincoln right down to Essex.

We realised the demand for this kind of event was high, and so quickly decided we should take it on the road around the UK, and confirmed six other dates, visiting Basingstoke, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Bristol and London.

We managed to reach over 400 people with our message and almost 250 people across the UK attended our sessions.

We were extremely lucky to be joined by some fantastic independent speakers along the way, including David Wright from the UK Safer Internet Centre and SWGfL, Jonathan Taylor, an ex-covert internet investigator and renowned eSafety and social media specialist, Jane Key from Warwickshire County Council, Graham Lowe from Lancashire Safeguarding Children Board, Abigail Clay, an Independent Safeguarding Consultant, just to name a few.

It very quickly became clear to us, that with each masterclass that passed, it wasn’t just our attendees who were learning from these experts but we were also learning too.

Our eyes were further opened up to the very real and very dangerous risks being imposed on children, through social media and various other online platforms.

If it was enough to shock even the most mindful of people, we now had further clarification as to why the masterclass was so important and why we needed as many educational, safeguarding professionals as possible to take advantage of such insight and attend.

Throughout the time the roadshow was running (March - October 2016) we saw some monumental changes. The Department for Education revised its Keeping Children Safe in Education guidelines, with changes implemented in September 2016 stating that all schools and colleges must now have appropriate filtering and monitoring in place.

The term e-Safety was scrapped in favour of online safety, and we released a new safeguarding reporting feature that would allow schools to better meet their online safety objectives.

With all of this in mind, it was imperative our expert speakers provided as much relevant and up to date information as possible, in order to educate and advise our audience on best practice and the steps they needed to take to ensure they were compliant - they didn’t disappoint.

At the start of the journey back in Leeds in March 2016, we saw the eSafety masterclass as ‘great to have’, but as the roadshow evolved and expectations with schools along with it, we realised it was a ‘must have’ and we’re delighted at how many people took the time to come along to the sessions and provide us with such brilliant feedback.

Overall the event was rated 5* by our visitors and we received comments such as “very professional, excellent, and very useful”, “excellent day, thank you for organising” and “extremely useful insight into safeguarding and the capabilities of the products.”

The roadshow has only helped to clarify for us how much of a service we owe to our customers in Education to be keeping up with new legislation and constantly innovating and understanding the market to better service their needs.

Although the roadshow has now come to the end for this calendar year, we’re encouraging you to keep your eyes peeled for next year as we plan to hit the road again with some exciting partners.

For now, I wanted to say thank you for reading, thank you to every single person who attended and those of you who registered but couldn’t attend, and thank you to our fantastic speakers.

It was an incredible journey, and one we hope to continue.

In the meantime, if you need any help or support with your safeguarding or online safety obligations, just reach out to us at Smoothwall, as we’d be happy to help.  

Did you attend any of our eSafety Masterclasses? Please leave your comments below.

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