Parents may be missing vital information when they talk to their children about staying safe online, a leading digital safety expert warned over 40 Independent School leaders yesterday.
Will Gardner, CEO of Childnet International, was one of the keynote speakers at the iPrep Workshop held at Bradfield College, Berkshire this week. Gardner, a past Bradfield pupil, warned of the importance of open dialogue between staff and pupils and the responsibility for schools to provide guidance to parents if children are to be properly protected on the internet. Although keen to highlight that most children see the internet as a safe place to be, Gardner advised on the increase in cyber bullying since 2010 and the increasing numbers of children found to be accessing risky sites online, such as self-harm or anorexia communities.
The event, a collaboration between two Berkshire-based schools Harriet House and Bradfield College, aimed to provide advice on responsible digital usage, eSafety and effective school promotion. The schools attending educate over 6,000 pupils in the area, most ranging in age from 2 to 13, the legal age for opening many social media accounts.
Simon Noakes, Managing Director of Interactive Schools, provided lively guidance on the right technology to embrace and the means to educate both schools and their pupils. He advised schools to “separate the notion of safety from inappropriate behaviour” when looking to be a good example to pupils. Ann Haydon, Principal Surbiton High School, ended the event with a clear message: “Young people are digital natives and we need to be in their playground.”
Heads and other Independent school leaders from across Berkshire and the Thames Valley came together to discuss their digital challenges and hear insights from leading Educational speakers. Key themes were the need for schools to embrace technology whilst endeavouring to be a considered example to their pupils about the best ways to use technology and be safe in their online usage.
“This is a topic close to my heart” said Harriet Hathaway, Headmistress of Harriet House School. “Parents are looking for guidance on when, what and how to parent in the digital world. While we might be at the other end of the educational age spectrum to Bradfield College the reality is that even our youngest pupils can already be competent and regular device users. This event is about bringing together schools to create a network across the area to discuss and address common digital challenges.”
Harriet Hathaway and Event Organiser Lucinda Grafton
“We all need to be looking for the right opportunities to empower our pupils through technology“ continued Kevin Collins, Second Master at Bradfield College, “supporting and never stymieing creativity needs to be the goal for all schools.”
Established in 2003, Harriet House School believes in building self-esteem, celebrating individuality and the adventure of learning. Harriet House is open to children aged 2½ -7 years. www.harriethouseschool.co.uk
Bradfield College is a coeducation independent day and boarding school for children aged 13-18 based in Bradfield, Berkshire. www.bradfieldcollege.org.uk