Lancaster kids teach peers to stay safe online

Some of the students who led the assemblies.
Some of the students who led the assemblies.
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Youngsters at a Lancaster school have been teaching others about how to stay safe online as part of a national awareness campaign.

Safer Internet Day is celebrated globally in February each year as part of Online Safety Week to promote the safe and positive use of digital technology for children and young people.

Research by UK Safer Internet Centre highlights the positive and negative impact of online images and videos on young people, with 86 per cent) of eight to 17-year-olds in the north west having shared a photo online, 26 per cent having been bullied with images or videos online and 66 per cent having seen images and videos not suitable for their age.

And at Our Lady’s Catholic College, 15 students from Years 7 to 13 have undertaken special training in online safety in order to then give presentations to their peers and at local primary schools.

The work done at Our Lady’s to promote internet safety was recognised in the school’s recent Ofsted report, where inspectors said the school was “innovative and thorough”.

Computing teacher Stephanie Bell, who is also the school’s online safety officer, said they had devoted much of this week to the importance of online safety.

She said: “Our Key Stage 3 and 4 pupils have had a range of lessons on online safety topics. Every year group received a special assembly run by our digital leaders.”

The school’s digital leaders – 15 pupils from across Years 7 to 13 – have been specially trained by ChildNet to enable them to support the staff in promoting online safety throughout the school.

They have also been going into primary schools across the district this week to give talks to younger pupils.

Stephanie said: “Empowering the kids to help other kids is the way to do it.

“Teachers can give as much advice as they want but the pupils don’t necessarily engage with it, whereas they are a lot more involved this way.

“It’s about raising the profile and making them aware of what they are doing online.

“As technology has developed, the risks have changed, but kids’ behaviour hasn’t changed.

“We have to share the techniques they need to keep them safe.

“They are online all the time so we need to help them use the information and access the technology.”

Ridge, St Bernadette’s, Grosvenor Park, Ryelands, Ellel St John’s in Galgate, St Wilfrid’s in Halton, Trumacar and Great Wood have all been involved in the initiative with Our Lady’s.

Stephanie added: “The students are delivering assemblies and running competitions, sharing advice and empowering the other students to be safe online.

“They are a great credit to our school and the local community.”