Teach children to be 'safe surfers'

11th April 2008 at 01:00

I was pleased that William Stewart's recent article, "We need a safety net for pupils who are `raised online'" (TES, March 28), was given a prominent position.

At my school, e-safety is an integral part of our ICT and PSHE. We teach children how to use the internet safely, including chatrooms. These lessons start in reception and go through to Year 6. There are some excellent age-appropriate online resources, such as Hector's World for key stage 1 (www.hectorsworld.com) and Think u Know for KS2 (www.thinkuknow.co.uk). These have both provided a catalyst for discussion with pupils about their experiences and raised awareness of the dangers of the internet.

This issue came to the fore when, a few years ago, there was a case of cyberbullying among Year 5 pupils who were using the Bebo networking site out of school. The pupils were below the accepted age for the site (13), but we acknowledged that they push boundaries and felt it was our role to equip them with the skills to keep themselves safe.

But school networks are heavily protected, and home is where children are most vulnerable. So, to support parents, we are holding an open evening on May 1 at which we plan to give practical advice on what simple measures they can take: setting parental controls, checking web traffic, locking down applications and creating separate user accounts so that parents and children can use the same computers safely.

We will also make them aware of the age restrictions of certain sites, tell them where they can go for advice, and have teachers on hand to offer help. As technology is ever-changing, I am sure we will learn something new from our audience. We hope to build on our relationship with them and help to ensure their children can be safe surfers (in our school they are the SSS - the Stukeley Safe Surfers).

We will put our notes from the evening on our school website for anyone planning a similar evening to use as a framework.

- www.stukeleymeadows.com

Karen Stanton, ICT co-ordinator, Stukeley Meadows Primary School, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

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