Students learn lesson about online safety

Primary 6 and 7 digital leaders from Ballyclare Primary with teachers Mrs Sarah Scott and Mrs Karen Irwin (cent. Also pictured are Pete Murphy from RM Education and Dr Victor McNair Digital Schools Validator.
Primary 6 and 7 digital leaders from Ballyclare Primary with teachers Mrs Sarah Scott and Mrs Karen Irwin (cent. Also pictured are Pete Murphy from RM Education and Dr Victor McNair Digital Schools Validator.

An industry backed initiative and the first of its kind in Northern Ireland is set to help schools tackle cyber risks and keep pupils safe online.

Developed by Digital Schools Awards Northern Ireland to provide education professionals with the resources and support needed to help pupils stay safe in the digital world, the new Cyber Resilience and Internet Safety (CR-IS) Badge is backed by technology companies HP, Microsoft and RM Education with the support of C2K and the Department of Education.

Year 10 Ballyclare High pupils Amy Fleck, Emily Clugston and Chrissie Marshall with Pete Murphy from RM Education and Dr Victor McNair, Digital Schools Validator.

Year 10 Ballyclare High pupils Amy Fleck, Emily Clugston and Chrissie Marshall with Pete Murphy from RM Education and Dr Victor McNair, Digital Schools Validator.

Online platforms are becoming increasingly accessible to young people with as many as one in four children aged 8-11 operating their own social media profiles. As the internet becomes further integrated into everyday life, it is vital that schools provide pupils with the knowledge and confidence to operate online.

The stand-alone badge will be available to all schools that demonstrate a strategic approach to cyber resilience and internet safety. The initiative follows the integration of the Digital Schools Awards programme in primary and secondary schools throughout Northern Ireland, which encourages a whole-school approach to digital learning.

Online Safety Co-ordinator at Ballyclare High, Mhairi Hill said: “Our young digital leaders help us as teachers deliver sessions to other pupils during timetabled Life Skills lessons and have created resources that are used by both staff and pupils.

“They are an integral part of our Online Safety team: they are involved in our policy review process and provide a forum where staff and pupils can meet to discuss emerging online safety issues.”

Karen Irwin, UICT Co-ordinator at Ballyclare Primary added: “Pupils are at the heart of our internet planning and strategy and we encourage an open dialogue between pupils, teachers and parents. Our Digital Leaders group which meets weekly is represented by pupils from each year group and together we work on creative projects and ideas to help everyone stay one step ahead in an ever-changing cyberworld.”