Views & Opinion Online safety facts – or

fallacies? Part 2 Comment by MARK BENTLEY, Safeguarding and Cybersecurity Manager, LGfL

Back in October, I wrote the first part of my column which discussed common online safety misconceptions. Here are the next five on my list.

• Just block/report them “Adults don’t get it – blocking can make it worse, and saying ‘ignore them’ is the WORST advice EVER. We’re in the 21st century – you can’t ignore them. – Girl, 14

“A random account [was] bullying me and my friends and we reported the account SO many times but nothing was ever done about it.” – Girl, 13

Of course, we need to encourage reporting, but these quotes from our online behaviour survey of 40,000 pupils, Hopes and Streams, illustrate that there is much more to consider than ‘just’ blocking or reporting a bully. And we need to offer different ways to talk about problems online. Happily, this is exactly what the government is working on with the Online Harms White Paper.

• We just talked about online safety “I don’t really go online…I just use YouTube and Snapchat” – Pupil, Year 8

This telling quote came from a secondary focus group which highlights how careful we need to be when delivering online safety education. The

pupils we spoke to could eloquently repeat the classic rules to their teacher, but if they don’t see what they are doing as online, then the guidance won’t help them. We all need to remember that safeguarding is safeguarding (online and off), safety is safety, and behaviour is behaviour.

• I found this great new resource Here’s another one which is challenging for providers of online safety resources, not just for teachers. Just because a resource is brilliant the first time doesn’t mean it will be when you endure it for the fifth consecutive year. So let us (and all the other providers of materials for schools) know what areas need more coverage, and we’ll get cracking! Crucially, we also need to address the issues that really upset children: no adult guessed that videos being shared of animals being hurt would be one of the most distressing things for many young people who answered our survey. Are we addressing what upsets children or what we think should upset them?

• Streaks take up all their time Adults never fritter away time scrolling through cat gifs and end up missing a deadline as a result. Or do they? Whilst we do need to help young people manage their time (and any parent knows from overseeing homework how stressful this is) let’s also listen, learn how they manage and give help where required.

• We’re too old to get it; anyway, they’re digital natives The amazing Professor Sonia Livingstone from the London School of Economics has spent ten years debunking the term digital native and has written a lot about the term and the concept. Not enough children tell anybody about their bad experiences online, but when they do, they often choose to tell a parent. Three quarters of children trust what their parents have to say. Why is that? Because they recognise that it’s not about the app; it’s about behaviour! When we facilitate the myth that anyone is ‘too old to get it’, we are doing ourselves, and our children, a major disservice. I hope my list of fallacies (otherwise known as ‘over simplifications of

complex issues with a sprinkling of fact’) will make your next online safety lesson easier to manage!

Education - the fundamental human right denied to millions

Comment by DR ANDREW HOBBS, COO Exemplar Education

Education is not just a privilege, but a fundamental human right that millions of children across the globe are sadly being denied. In this piece I will argue for the necessity of access to quality schooling, how far we have to go and what the education industry can do to accelerate wider access to education. The right to an education has come a long way since the

Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, with world illiteracy levels halving between 1970 and 2015. However, with 264 million children across the globe currently without access to education and 10% of the world’s children unable to read and write, we still have a long way to go. Good education has the power to change lives. The UN has stated that

education is vital to meeting its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but the global challenge for education is not just about providing access, but ensuring progress. To whom does this responsibility fall? The barriers to education are multifaceted. But it is imperative to

understand the potential for a quality education to exert influence on the health, wellbeing and financial prosperity of children. While the success of SDGs is the most powerful blueprint we have to catalyse access to quality education, there is a smaller yet vital role to be played by businesses across the education industry.


The divide between the haves and the have-nots has characterised the

education debate for years and questions on how social inequality barriers can be erased to create a fair learning landscape, continue to set the agenda. While this debate rages on, it is important for policy makers, educators

and the industry to recognise the power we have to create real change in access to education. We have some incredible minds driving innovation in our sector, constantly reimagining how the classroom of the future will look and developing new ways to engage our children creatively in their learning. The wealth of vision and talent in the learning industry means that we

have a level of responsibility to do what we can to ensure the progression of access to quality education in every country. Within the UK, the recent PISA results showed "positive" progress has been made in international school rankings, which reflects our teachers’ continuous efforts to engage their pupils, using innovative and creative methods. The UN’s SDGs for education aren’t just limited to lesser developed

countries. Here in the UK, the attainment gap between more and less advantaged pupils is growing. A recent report by social mobility charity Sutton Trust, found that the new GCSE system in England is in danger of “further disadvantaging the disadvantaged'', with grades for less advantaged pupils falling. This shows there is a distinct need for intervention. In addition, a recent OECD survey revealed that children in the UK had some of the lowest scores of any country for "life satisfaction". Education is a human right that should be available to all children

regardless of where they come from - however we must ensure that each child's education is high quality in order to have a fulfilled life and a prosperous future.

January 2020

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