The children and young people in our schools today are growing up in a highly connected world that offers unparalleled opportunity and access to information. But keeping them safe online and helping them develop the skills to keep themselves safe in this new world, is a constantly evolving challenge for schools.
At Westcroft School, Wolverhampton, senior leaders decided to rise to this challenge by taking a whole-school approach to e-safety with support from the Learning Technologies team at Concero.
Achieving school-wide EPICT accreditation
E-safety is of high priority to the Wolverhampton school, which caters exclusively for children and young people with complex cognitive needs from Key Stage 1 through to Sixth Form
As part of its commitment to developing and extending e-safety expertise and building internal capacity, the Westcroft senior leadership team decided to work towards gaining whole-school EPICT (European Pedagogical ICT) accreditation. Achieving a recognised standard in e-safety training such as accreditation is considered by Ofsted to be a key feature of good or outstanding practice.
Alan Foster, Head of Learning Technologies at Concero, explains: ‘With whole-school accreditation, six members of staff each attend a half-day course then complete one of the six tasks set by EPICT that cover different aspects of e-safety in schools. These include: giving e-safety presentations to staff, governors and parents; delivering e-safety lessons; ensuring high standards of e-safety are achieved in all lessons involving the use of ICT; and reviewing the school’s policies and procedures relating to e-safety.’
Following the EPICT training run by Concero, the Westcroft staff members were supported in completing their assignments by the ICT consultancy’s Learning Technologies team. Alan regularly checked in with them via email to ensure they were making good progress and to offer feedback. He also reviewed each assignment before it was submitted to EPICT for assessment.
Westcroft successfully gained its whole-school accreditation in 2017. The award, which must be renewed every two years, helps to protect staff and students, but also puts the school in a confident position in the event of inspection, notes Alan: ‘In its guidance for schools on how e-safety is inspected, Ofsted identifies among the key features of outstanding practice one or more members of staff having a higher level of e-safety expertise through accredited training, such as EPICT.’
Free e-safety training boosts staff knowledge and understanding
Concero’s involvement in the school’s e-safety work began when the ICT consultancy led a free e-safety course for staff at the school, focusing on school policy, best practice and safeguarding issues linked to online activity. Following the course, and on the advice of Concero, the school completed an e-safety audit using the free online tool 360 Degree Safe.
‘This free online resource gives senior leaders a snapshot of e-safety in their school. We provide support to schools who want to use 360 Degree Safe in this way,’ says Concero’s Alan. ‘We will then help them to work towards either EPICT accreditation – as Westcroft has – or another recognised e-safety award such as the E-Safety Mark, if these are actions identified as a result of the audit.’
To find out how Concero could help your school or MAT develop best practice in e-safety, get in touch today on 0333 111 0004 or visit concerouk.com.