E-safety in schools is as important as sex education according to BCS video debate

22 September 2011

Ensuring children are taught e-safety, is as important today as subjects such as sex education and other types of personal, social, health and citizenship topics, according to a video debate which goes online today, hosted by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. 

David Miles, Director, Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) says: “At school age there has to be a conversation with children about staying safe online - rather like the sex education conversation. At that point parents can share in the positives and find out how their children use technology and celebrate the creativity. Then discuss, secondarily, risks and security at a level relevant to their age.”

Parents, teachers and pupils know the ‘Stranger Danger’ approach for helping children deal with people they don’t know, but they need to be equally as aware when online, according to the debate which asked the question: Children are digitally savvy but are they information savvy?

The debate was chaired by Brian Runciman, Editorial Publisher, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, and the panel included David Miles Director FOSI; James Garnett, Lead ICT Project Executive (Online Safety), United Learning Trust; Alan Earl, Harm Reduction Officer, Avon And Somerset Constabulary on secondment to the South West Grid for Learning; and Jeremy Barlow, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.

“The internet is a powerfully useful tool. You wouldn’t send someone who came into a school with a knife to the design technology department, but with internet issues, people usually get directed to the IT department - and the issue is bigger than that. It is for all of us, parents and teachers to ensure that our children, who are so technically savvy, are able to benefit from technology and our information society.” says Alan Earl. “The internet is such a great environment, so it's really important that e-safety is part of school curriculum.”

BCS e-safety, a qualification developed by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, aims to help students understand how they can protect themselves online. It is a Level 1 qualification that maps to parts of the PSHCE National Curriculum. e-safety aims to help teachers raise the issue of online safety with their students and 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.

James Garnett says: “The new BCS e-safety qualification is an easy way to get the right information across to students. With it a school can frame their curriculum around a recognised qualification so if can satisfy Ofsted and prove that it has begun on the right path to ensuring safety online for our students.”

Jeremy Barlow concludes: “Being safe online is becoming increasingly important for children with new platforms and technologies emerging all the time. BCS e-safety is a comprehensive qualification that will ensure schools are able to confidently teach safety online and enable all children to access the information society securely.”

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