ENGAGING PARENTS AND CARERS IN ICT E-SAFETY
Ideas from the Somerset Middle School e-Safety Group
In many schools there is an issue in the engagement of parents and carers in the ICT education of children.
This is most apparent around matters of safety where there seems to be a disconnect between children’s use
and parent/carer knowledge.
In trying to engage parents on this issue school have a duty to protect the learners by:
upskilling the parents
supporting and protecting the school
In isolating the issues that appear in schools the main ones considered were:
EFFECT OF ACCEPTABLE USER POLI CIES
All schools normally issue an Acceptable User Policy (AUP) that parents/carers sign before children are allowed
access to the Internet. With education now being firmly centred on the use of ICT, getting these handed in
and recorded was a major issue for schools. There are also concerns on how often should be asked for this
task to be completed – was one signature when the child first came into the school enough despite the
changes in ICT provision and cognitive development of the child?
It is widely believed that the children’s’ knowledge of ICT and its uses outstrips the general knowledge of
adults. This can be exemplified by stories of parents/carers allowing children to play 18 rated games.
Social Networks, such as Facebook are increasingly causing issues in schools. These issues centre around:
Use by children under the age stated in the terms and conditions (usually under 13)
The creation of false accounts
The creation of accounts that can be seen as being detrimental to the school
Whether the use of the issue raised by the inappropriate use of these sites is a school matter e.g.
Many schools have policies where the use of mobile phones is restricted. However in all schools there still exist
issues due to:
the speed at which messages can be sent home
the taking of photos/videos
In looking at the position of the school taking responsibility for helping parents with e-safety then there are
several important points to be recognised:
is e-safety strongly linked to safeguarding including the recording of incidents
is the issue owned by staff (what training has been provided?)
is the issue owned by governors
have the children been involved in the discussion
There were many elements that could be used to promote greater engagement of parents in e-safety. The list
below is an indication of the ideas collected (it is recognised that they may not be suitable for all schools
ACCEPTABLE USER POLI CIES
The distribution of AUPs is a task that raises the rights and responsibilities of users of the computer system.
Therefore ideas are that:
the AUP is countersigned by parents every year (highlighting any changes)
‘missing’ AUP should always be chased
AUPs could be part of the planner
the should be a ‘tear off’ slip so that the AUP remains in the family home
schools should consider the way in which they ask permission – could it be a ‘opt out’ AUP (would
need to check this) or could an online form be used?
Many schools organise evenings where the delivery of safety messages are given. In most cases the
attendance at these has been poor with a notable ‘tail off’ for repeated evenings.
Therefore in an attempt to revitalise this idea schools could:
theme the evening to look at aspects of safety such as gaming (including time limits, age
restrictions etc), current issues such as Facebook privacy etc
suggest that the Parents Association organise the evening
change the venue
seek sponsorship from local industry
use a different title other than safety – parenting?
there are companies that offer resources and discounted home licensed filter software if schools
organise parent meetings.
Parents evenings present an occasion when the majority of parents/carers are in the school.
having an e-safety stall manned by children distributing and informing parents/carers about
issues and distributing publications such as the Know It All CDs and the Vodafone magazine
‘piggy back’ an e-safety speaker into the parents evening
E-safety should be ‘advertised’ on the schools website. Schools could:
List external esafey sites
Link to case studies to display the dangers
Hints and tips
Parent control software advice
Inform parents of the work of cyber buddies
Display the CEOP report button on their website
There are other ways of informing parents using the School newsletter or other services such as Facebook and
Twitter (the county esafe Facebook and Twitter accounts could be publicised to parents). In all cases a policy
of highlighting the positives should be used.
SAFER INTERNET DAY
Safer Internet Day, in Feb every year, represents an opportunity for schools. Schools could:
Organise safety assemblies and invite the parents to attend
Involve the local press in the activities completed at the school on that day
Setting homework or tasks that include either children discussing safety issues at home such as privacy settings
on Social Networks with parents (from a guide sheet) would not only lead to an increased education for the
children but would also lead to greater education in the home .
INVOLVE LOCAL INDUST RY
Many companies have an interest in both technology and supporting local schools. Some companies would be
willing to sponsor e-safety events or willing to provide time for their workers to visit schools. This could of
great use when discussing issues such as the effect of web presence on the hiring of employees and
disciplinary procedures when workers post messages on the social networks indicating problems in their
Although not directly connected with parents there were other steps that could be taken to increase e-safety
awareness amongst children.
Many schools have a scheme where trained children are used as a conduit for the support of others in the
school. This type of scheme matches other peer centred bullying schemes. Parental involvement comes into
this when the cyber mentor are first selected and the mention of the scheme and of it success to other
E-SAFETY EDUCATION THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE CURRICULUM
E-safety should be the responsibility of all teachers. For example reference should always be made on to how
to report inappropriate web sites. Children if asked to complete work may well use computers where the
filtering is not as strong as it is in schools (e.g. YouTube). Educators should therefore be constantly thinking
about what they ask children to search for and also inform them of what to do if they do meet inappropriate
screens. Parents/Carers should also be given this advice so that consistency is maintained.
PART OF SAFEGUARDING AND/OR HEALTHY SCHOO LS
By placing e-safety as part of the Safeguarding issue and/or Healthy Schools initiative there is greater
coordination between the governing board, SMT and the school community. Parental involvement not only
comes from the parent governors but also from surveys completed and the consistency of the messages given.
RESOURCES FOR PARENTS
Somerset LA Webpage
Somerset County Esafe Twitter Site http://www,twitter.com/somerset_esafe @somerset_esafe
ChildNet Know It All http://www.childnet-int.org/kia/
ChildNet Digizen http://old.digizen.org/cyberbullying/film.aspx
Vodafone Booklet http://parents.vodafone.com/
Redbridge Booklet http://ow.ly/3OM7D
Cyber Mentoring Web Page - http://cybermentors.org.uk/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1
MEMBERS OF THE GROUP
Adam Broad – Preston School
Barbara Dale, Paul Richards - Maiden Beech Middle School
Petri Cole – Danesfield Middle School
Ian Gover – Somerset Local Authority
Mark.Lees –Swanmead Middle School
Stefan McHale – Fairlands Middle School
Andrew Pack – Selwood Middle School
Lesley Peat – Oakfield Middle School
Justin Philcox – Hugh Sexey Middle School
Judy Shore –Minehead Middle School
David Wright - SWGfL
With ideas and advice from Ben Collinge – Haygrove School