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St Oliver Plunkett Primary School, Belfast receives E-Safety Mark

Assessors from the South West Grid for Learning (SWGL) recently visited St. Oliver Plunkett Primary School to review the school’s e-safety provision. The assessors met school staff, parents and carers, governors and pupils and were pleased to find that the school provides a high level of protection for users of the new technologies.

The South West Grid for Learning Trust provides the internet connection and a range of other services to schools across the SW region and is in the forefront of national developments in e-safety.  To enhance these services, they have developed a tool to help schools address e-safety issues, not least the changes to Department of Education ETI inspections, which include a stronger focus on safeguarding. The online tool allows schools to evaluate their e-safety policy and practice and then suggests how the school might do more to protect young people and staff.

To apply for the 360 degree safe E-Safety Mark, schools have to reach a series of benchmark levels when they complete the online self-review. The evidence is then verified by a visit from experienced assessors.

The prime benefit of using the review and applying for the E-Safety Mark is that it does not focus on the individual aspects of e-safety such as technological solutions, but instead it integrates e-safety into school policy and the curriculum, challenging teachers and managers in the school to think about their provision and its continual evolution.

Schools are expected to show that they have provided a high standard of e-safety education and awareness for all staff, pupils and also for parents and carers, to ensure that these users of the new technologies can be safe online – whether they are in school, in their homes or out and about using mobile phones or other handheld devices.

Following their visit the assessors reported that,

“St Oliver Plunkett Primary School has demonstrated exceptional leadership and management with regards to their E-Safety provision. It was clearly evident that the Principal, wider Senior Leadership Team, E-Safety Coordinator and Board of Governors have worked collaboratively to create an E-Safety strategy which is understood, shared and has been has incorporated into all aspects of school life.”

They also stated,

“The pupils deserve a special acknowledgement for their impressive contribution to the E-Safety provision within the school. During the interview, they conducted themselves maturely and responded to questions in an articulate, enthusiastic manner. This high level of E-Safety participation from pupils was fully encouraged by the school. The Pupil E-Safety Committee consisted of pupils in Years 5-7 and they received training from the school’s E-Safety Coordinator. The pupils themselves were accredited by the Senior Leadership Team of having been the major driving force behind ‘Cyber Tiger’ and they clearly enjoyed their Committee roles.”

Ron Richards, Lead Assessor for the 360 degree safe E-Safety Mark congratulated the school on its success and commented that it was re-assuring to know that the school had put a lot of thought and effort into improving the on-line safety of the staff and young people, by addressing these important safeguarding issues.

It is with great pride that we can share our success as we received the mark on Thursday February 9th. This achievement is simply a recognition of work past and the development of a mindset, like social media and technology we will continue to evolve our practices so that our pupils, parents and staff are best placed to meet the challenges of a digital reality.

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