BCS helps schools keep students safe online

- new qualification launched as part of Safer Internet Day -

8 February 2011

As part of its commitment to enabling the information society and in support of Safer Internet Day on 8 February, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT is launching a new qualification, BCS e-safety, to help students understand how they can protect themselves online.

It comes as a survey by Childwise reveals that some children are still placing no restrictions on who can see their personal information online. This is set against figures that reveal 62% of children have their own laptop and some 2 million under 13 year olds are using Facebook despite the fact that it is banned for youngsters under this age.

Cliff Lineker, Director of Qualifications, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT explains: ‘Statistics like these are quite alarming. We need to educate our children how to operate in this digital age in a safe way; children may be digitally savvy, but they also need to understand how to protect their privacy and personal information online and why it’s important.’

A teacher who is using the internet in college reinforces this message; Ryan Land, E-Safety Co-ordinator, Don Valley School and Performing Arts College, Doncaster, says: ‘The internet is an exciting and empowering tool. Learners today are living in a digital world, and as such are becoming complacent with digital technologies. It is vital that today’s learners fully understand the risks that such a powerful tool carries, to maximise the learning potential that the internet offers.’

Launched today, BCS e-safety is a Level 1 qualification that maps to parts of the National Curriculum for PSHCE - Personal Wellbeing, Citizenship, ICT and Every Child Matters.

Cliff adds: ‘BCS e-safety aims to help teachers to raise the issue of online safety with their students. It covers the potential risks associated with being online, how to protect yourself and your personal information online, as well as how to behave responsibly and within the law whilst using the internet.’

The qualification has been designed specifically for schools, to help them improve the standards of e-safety amongst staff and young people and follows a 2010 report by Ofsted* that recommends that schools should:

  • audit the training needs of all staff and provide training to improve their knowledge of and expertise in the safe and appropriate use of new technologies
  • work closely with all families to help them ensure that their children use new technologies safely and responsibly both at home and at school
  • provide an age-related, comprehensive curriculum for e-safety which enables pupils to become safe and responsible users of new technologies

Cliff concludes: ‘We know that from September 2011 Ofsted inspectors will be looking at four main areas including the behaviour and safety of pupils - in today’s world, this includes being safe online. All schools currently offer e-safety to a greater or lesser extent, however, there is no standardised approach and this leaves Ofsted inspectors with a subjective assessment. We hope that this new qualification will help schools demonstrate to Ofsted inspectors that by delivering a recognised qualification their school is focussed on the behaviour and safety of their pupils.’

The qualification is suitable for delivery in schools at key stage 3 and 4, and for adult learners who work with or care for children. The course can be delivered by a teacher, via e-learning or a combination of both methods, and lesson plans and materials are provided for tutor led delivery as well as access to the e-learning content for each pupil.

It covers four main safety areas: the benefits and risks of using the internet, how to report and respond to e-safety issues, how to protect yourself and your computer online and the legal issues of downloading from the internet.

Safer Internet Day is organised by Insafe each year in February to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially amongst children and young people across the world.

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