Hazelwood Academy is a one-form-entry primary academy and nursery serving a rich and varied catchment area on the western fringes of Swindon in Wiltshire. They currently have 196 mainstream pupils, 25 nursery children and 13 teaching staff.
The school has always had a strong focus on online safety, but as technology has evolved and pupils spend more time online, it has become an even greater priority. As Hazelwood begins to look at increasing access to new devices and platforms, staff felt it was more important than ever that their whole school community was fully aware of online safety.
To support them with this goal, Hazelwood recently engaged with RM Education to provide staff workshops on Online Safety, as well as the popular EPICT e-safety training course. Hazelwood’s Business Manager and Online Safety Champion, Kate Ayliffe, told us about the positive impact the training has had on the school’s staff and pupils.
“It’s important that our pupils understand the dangers, as well as the positives, of using the internet and electronic devices, and we need to be equipped with the knowledge to facilitate that,” explained Kate. “The Online Safety Workshop with Kate from RM gave us a great starting point, and empowered our staff to feel more confident in educating pupils about the risks and rewards.”
The workshop also encouraged the school to examine their policies and procedures in greater detail and supported them in developing an action plan which looked at their strengths, gaps and areas for improvement.
“Our online safety procedures and protocols were probably a little sketchy until we engaged with RM,” said Kate. “But the workshop enabled us to strengthen our policy and end-user agreements, and renewed our focus on Hazelwood’s whole online safety provision to make sure it addresses what is needed today.”
As well as taking part in the workshop, Kate was also keen to complete the EPICT course. This helped to give her a clearer all-round picture of what online safety is about.
“There’s a tendency to just think about certain aspects of online safety, such as grooming and bullying - but it’s so much wider than that,” said Kate. “It’s shaped my understanding of how online safety can mean different things to parents, pupils and teachers.
“The EPICT course inspired me to fully investigate and research what’s available online, so I could identify the right resources and put that learning into context within our academy. We were also able to select an activity that was relevant to our individual learning environment, and the activity I chose for Hazelwood was very manageable, which is important as we’re all busy in our jobs.”
Since engaging with RM Education, there has been a much greater focus on online safety at Hazelwood Academy; all classes now have an e-safety plan and pupils are given a level of e-safety training during lessons.
Kate has also been able to use her EPICT learning to build on the knowledge staff gained through the workshop by supporting them with on-going guidance and advising them on the range of resources available across the curriculum.
“I would urge any other educational establishments, who are looking at introducing tablets or making internet access more readily available to pupils, to consider reviewing their online safety provision,” said Kate. “By taking part in a workshop like we did with RM, staff will each have the same level of knowledge and understanding right from the start, and that’s incredibly valuable.”
“We’re now looking at offering online safety training to parents, which we’re hoping to provide in-house - and that’s something we’d never have had the confidence to do before.”
For more information, visit www.rm.com