Hunsbury Park School has been serving the children of Hunsbury, Camp Hill and Briar Hill in Northampton for the past 30 years. The motto that encapsulates school’s ethos is ‘working together to be the best we can be’: this sense of perseverance and optimism is demonstrated perfectly by their community-wide approach to online safety.
Since joining National Online Safety in the summer of 2020, the staff and students have worked incredibly hard to earn their NOS Certified School accreditation. We spoke to Janine Rumble, year three teacher and computing lead, and Headteacher Mr York to find out how Hunsbury Park has been able to achieve so much in just a matter of months.
Social Media Influence
When quizzed on the most significant challenge for the online safety provision at Hunsbury Park, Ms Rumble and Mr York were unanimous in their answer.
“The use of social media – social media is the biggest thing.” Agreed Ms. Rumble.
“A lot of children have older siblings who are able to go on older apps and websites, so they want to do the same things. They see an app like TikTok, and think ‘that looks really cool’, but they don’t understand the pitfalls that could be there.”
One of the main pitfalls, argues Ms. Rumble, is the impact of influencers on user generated video sites like YouTube. She believes that what some children see online can give them inappropriate ideas or expectations.
“That’s all most children want to be these days: an influencer, because that’s what they’ve learnt, and they want to be like the people they see on the screen.”
Keeping parents informed
To tackle the issues around social media for students, and allow them to get the best out of the digital world, both teachers believe that parents need to stay in the loop.
“I think with the internet, it’s important for everyone isn’t it? It’s so prevalent in every child’s life, most children have learned to swipe on a phone before they can talk.” Explained Ms. Rumble.
“So you need to be aware of it, and I think that a lot of parents can be quite naïve about the risks out there, and also of the benefits, how to exploit the benefits whilst making sure that their children are cared for and kept safe online.
“We’ve been using the #WakeUpWednesday posters - so if we’re aware of a situation, our DSL has got in touch with parents and pointed them to the training that we can offer through National Online Safety.
“The parents that I spoke to have found it really useful. Some of them have come to me and been quite shocked with what they’ve learned.”
Mr York also added that parents at the school had felt that National Online Safety’s “clear guidance” on online safety topics had provided both “support and greater understanding” of how to keep children safe in and out of school.
Professional development and curriculum building
Online Safety training at Hunsbury Park Primary has truly been ‘all hands on deck’, as a number of staff across the school have completed certificates in training for their respective roles. They have also been using NOS materials to build and online safety savvy curriculum.
“At the moment, we’re teaching all of our children how to do live lessons, and online safety is coming up after that training. So teachers will be using NOS resources, lesson plans and videos a lot more then.
“We have a few teachers here that are also parents, so they have completed their training and then realised that they had learnt a lot from it!
“They wanted to share it with their own children, so they have then gone home and showed it to their families as well.”
A vital step forward
On receiving their National Online Safety accreditation, the teachers of Hunsbury Park assured us that this was the first step to setting their students up for life in a digital world, and that there is always more work to be done.
“Achieving the certification is just the start,” Said Mr. York.
"We want to build on this foundation to ensure that we continuously review our practice, providing online safety education that evolves with technology and gives the students skills for now and the future."
“It’s a good stepping-stone: It’s a start, it’s not ‘that’s it’!” Adds Ms. Rumble.
“It’s just making sure that parents and staff are aware that it’s not just a one-time thing, that I just want them to do a bit of training, it is ever-changing and the things that are put onto the (National Online Safety) website are ever changing, so its always good to keep up to date with everything.
"I think it’s great that we’ve been able to achieve it, and I think it’s great for the safeguarding of our children, because everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet as it were!”
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Posted by Emily Ingram