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08 Feb 2017

Smoothwall teaches online safety to pupils, parents and teachers at Rye St Antony School as part of Safer Internet Day 2017

On 7th February 2017, Smoothwall travelled to Rye St Antony School in Oxford, to run several online safety sessions as part of Safer Internet Day.

Rye St Antony were selected out of a range of schools who pitched for Smoothwall to join them for Safer Internet Day because of their commitment to show pupils positive role models and teach them how to stay safe online, along with wanting to help give parents practical information about online safety too.

The message of online safety is of paramount importance, with statistics from the UK Safer Internet Centre showing that 84% of 8-17 year olds have shared an image online, with 38% having received negative comments on an image or video they have posted.

With stories like those of Kayleigh Haywood and Breck Bednar becoming more frequent, we have to ensure that children have the knowledge and power to confidently protect themselves online, and that this is supported by their parents, teachers and other caregivers.

Rye St Antony School were keen to share this message and teach their pupils appropriate use of the internet, for when both in and out of the classroom.

Rye St Antony offer boarding facilities and therefore have an extra level of responsibility when it comes to safeguarding children.

Sessions were arranged throughout the day, beginning at 11:20 with 31 pupils from Year 9. An all girl year group, the 13-14 year olds were keen to learn about the potential risks of sharing confidential information on social media, and the threats which come with sending picture messages along with how far these can reach.

As an example we shared our own social media experiment, highlighting how easy it is for posts to reach people in places you might not even think of. In the space of just a week, our post had travelled and reached people not only in the UK, but also around the world in places such as France, USA, Australia and even New Zealand, information which was met by many gasps from the pupils.

At this point the session was well underway as we went on to talk through practical advice about staying safe on social media, image sharing, and the dangers of cyberbullying and grooming.

The pupils were quick to participate as we summarised their experience with a role playing activity, where the pupils had to gather in small groups and act out something which portrayed the Safer Internet Day message “Be the Change - Unite for a Better Internet.”

Afterwards, we broke for lunch and held a drop in session for pupils who had more questions and who were eager to seek answers. It was fantastic to see that several pupils returned to talk through privacy settings on social media, personal experiences and even careers.

In the afternoon, we were joined by pupils in Year 5 & 6, as we talked about taking photos and the information they could reveal about themselves without them realising.

Pupils at this age shouldn’t be using social media, so instead we warned about asking permission before taking a photo and making sure you aren’t embarrassing anyone or giving away personal information.

 All sessions finished with pupils drawing their best emoji as part of the #GIVEASMILE campaign and having their photograph taken.

Finally, in the afternoon we held a session for parents which was Rye St Antony’s most subscribed parent session to date!

Over 40 parents attended to hear about how they can improve their own online safety and encourage safe online use to their children.

We talked lots about age restrictions of online games, sharing settings on social media, geo-location settings, risks and lots more.

We were lucky enough to have a lot of local press also interested in the event, with interviews conducted and broadcast throughout the day by BBC Radio Oxford, BBC One South (TV), Jack FM and the Oxford Mail. Featured on BBC One South Today News at 6pm, was a story summarising the day’s events which included an interview with Smoothwall’s Head of Marketing and Online Safety Ambassador, Claire Stead, discussing why Smoothwall had chosen to visit Rye St Antony School as part of Safer Internet Day.

Smoothwall would like to thank the pupils, parents and teachers at Rye St Antony School for their time, and for offering such a welcoming and open environment to discuss online safety.

If you’re interested in having Smoothwall come talk to pupils and parents at your school, please contact us, or if you have any questions regarding online safety please leave your comments below.

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