5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

Kate Dunstan

At Holy Cross College we encourage students to be transformative, leveraging digital technologies to redefine their learning. We are an Apple Distinguished School, utilising 1:1 iPads from Year 1 – Year 12. I am passionate about ensuring that technologies are used in a safe, authentic and responsible way to allow students to enhance their learning journey. 

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Website: www.holycross.wa.edu.au Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

Holy Cross College is a pre-kindergarten to Year 12 Catholic school situated in the metropolitan area of Perth, Western Australia. The College is a leader in contemporary, 21st century pedagogies that are Christ Centred and student focused. 

1. Parental engagement is vital 

We know that parents are the first and most important educators of our students. But it’s crucial to also accept that not all parents are going to be as engaged as we want when it comes to digital safety! At Holy Cross College, we ensure all families attend or access resources around digital citizenship right from their child’s enrolment at the College. These sessions are run in person, but we have also begun recording and streaming sessions online, to suite families that are unable to attend. During these education sessions we offer guidelines and suggestions for how parents might manage technology use at home. We encourage creating a home agreement. If parents can support us in this, that’s half the battle! 

2. Make the expectations around use of technology clear

We have created a digital passport for all students (that alters depending on the age of the students) that outlines the school’s expectations for using their device, and tips for what to do if they’re unsure of anything to do with technology.  All students have this stored on their devices, and classroom teachers use it as part of their beginning of the school year discussions. We update the resources in the passport annually, and this allows teachers to start the year with discussions around positive use of technology and eSafety in a way this is consistent across the College. Store it on the students’ devices, and parents can access this when they go home as well.

3. Engage a digital safety team within the school 

For eSafety to be embedded across the school, leadership support is key. We have specific teachers whose roles centre around upskilling staff and students about the importance and uses of digital technologies. These roles were created and given time and value by leadership. The team created an Information Communications Technology Agreement that every student and guardian at the College signs at the beginning of each school year agreements. These are specific to the age of the students, as a number of educational applications and digital resources have specific parental permissions for children under the age of 13. Having a team responsible for eSafety means processes can be put in place and give teachers confidence in the ways they are uploading and using their students’ data in an age appropriate and safe way. 

4. Embed eSafety discussions authentically

We have a strong culture of co teaching, where teachers work in teams or pairs with either year levels or subject areas. This helps the teachers to plan cross curricular opportunities for eSafety, always considering the developmental age of the students. Younger students are asked to consider what information is personal to them, and what they should discuss with a trusted adult. Beginning these discussions at a young age, and in a way that is developmentally appropriate, helps the students navigate technology use at school and at home. 

5. Utilise the experts around you

There are endless resources right at our fingertips, but it can be tricky to know where to start, and what’s reputable. At Holy Cross College we rely on resources that are well referenced and supported by organisations that we trust, also considering what is local and appropriate to our students. We regularly use the following resources:

  • https://www.commonsensemedia.org - A website run in the US that is designed to give parents and teachers reviews on all the latest apps and digital resources. 
  • https://www.esafety.gov.au - The Australian Government has, through the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, curated an enormous number of resources that support safe experiences online for all age groups
  • https://search.creativecommons.org - A free search platform for teachers and students to access and use images that are legally available for reuse, with credit given. 
  • https://parenttv.com - A subscription service that provides access to videos for parents to allow them to tackle challenging conversations with their children, resourced by qualified psychologists. 
  • https://www.digitallicence.com.au - A subscription online eSafety educational program designed for students in Years 5 and 6 that provides resources for teachers and quizzes for students to progress through, working to earn their ‘digital licence’.
  • https://edtechimpact.com/categories/safeguarding-software-schools - A peer-reviewed directory of the latest online safeguarding software for schools.

 Looking for more resources to support your teaching and learning? Check out the best education technology resources on our sister platform EdTech Impact.

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