Safer Schools Initiative releases advice to address online harm in the classroom

Observing changes in pupil behaviour, seeking advice and promoting a positive culture are three of the best ways schools can support pupils in the digital world

The Safer Schools Initiative has today released advice to help teachers tackle online dangers in the classroom.

According to the advice, monitoring changes in pupil behaviour, seeking recommendations and promoting a positive classroom culture are three of the best ways schools can support pupils in the digital world.

The guidance is led by online safeguarding experts Ineqe Safeguarding Group, who deliver the initiative in partnership with Zurich Municipal.

Their advice is as follows:

1. It’s not about technology – it’s about behaviour

Teachers understand the nuances of children’s behaviour, instilling them with unique insight they can implement to help them safeguard students – online and offline. Often, signs a child is being bullied, even online, will translate in some way to their behaviour in the classroom, corridors or playground.  When you notice changes in a child’s demeanour, it’s important for teachers to consider their increased vulnerability in the online environment, where anonymity can shield and encourage bullying. Keep an eye out for changes to behaviour, listen to what other teachers and children say, take advice and when the time is right – talk to the child.

The best way we can help young people stay safe online is by empowering them through education and teach them how to protect themselves from harm – Jim Gamble

2. Only adhere to credible advice

Following the wrong advice will only make things worse, so it’s imperative that teachers ensure the information shared with the school community – including parents – is recent and credible. The best practice is built on evidence. Don’t let just anyone come into the school to talk to pupils about online safety, check their credentials.

3. Create the right culture and environment

Students in the class must be reassured that it’s okay to make mistakes, and should they ever find themselves in trouble, that they have a listening ear. Creating a safe and comfortable environment and culture in the classroom is worth its weight in gold.

Avoid removing hope at all costs. Hope is the fuel that helps a child when they think all is lost. Desperation can drive children to dark places. If they have faced a relentless bully or shared an image, they need to know something can be done. And it can be. What goes online doesn’t have to stay online and in many cases material can be removed or hidden from sight.

“Protecting pupil’s safety on and offline is a growing concern for our school customers,” said Tilden Watson, head of education at Zurich Municipal. “We have been working with online safeguarding experts for over two years to help schools to fully understand the risks, as well as how to deal with problems if and when they arise.  Teaching professionals and school staff have an enormous influence on students, so it’s vital they have the appropriate tools and most up-to-date information to help them navigate online dangers. Education is central to creating more positive outcomes for young people and keeping the whole school community safer in the increasingly digital world.”

““Online bullying and image sharing remain monumental challenges for parents, carers, teachers and safeguarding professionals,” added Jim Gamble, online safeguarding expert and pioneer of the Safer Schools App. “The best way we can help young people stay safe online is by empowering them through education and teach them how to protect themselves from harm. If recent experience has taught us one thing, it’s that online issues very often have offline roots.”

The Safer Schools App was launched in 2018. Since then, it has been rolled out across thousands of UK state schools. The app blends the expertise of safeguarding professionals to grant staff, parents and carers a greater understanding of the digital space, trends and emerging risks.

Available free for schools insured with Zurich Municipal, the Safer Schools App offers critical advice regarding image sharing, online bullying and safer gaming. For more information visit: 

Leave a Reply

Free live webinar & QA

The digital difference - Build a culture of reading with ebooks & audiobooks

Free Education Webinar with OverDrive

Friday, June 24, 2PM London BST

In this webinar, hear from Havant Academy Librarian Joanna Parsons to learn how she uses ebooks and audiobooks to help boost reading among her secondary students.