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Strategic planning for online learning
Strategic planning for online learning

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1 Policy and practice trends

Community engagement around online safety issues is one of the biggest challenges facing schools when reviewing their online safety policies and practices (Phippen, 2021). Engagement with parents and carers can be challenging but it is important to help them feel empowered, to support their children in safe online practices at home. Read one approach below on how a school has supported online safety:

One of our own pupils trained as an intern, did the apprenticeship and is now an IT Technician. He has set up and run a skype line for parents to call providing one-to-one support to homes. He runs weekly drop in sessions for parents and provides tuition. We’ve done a lot of work on safety and a lot of work, working with parents on safety measures, asking do you know what your kids are doing in their bedroom whilst you’re downstairs watching TV?

If you are interested in finding out more, you may find it helpful to read the UK Schools Online Safety Policy & Practice Assessment [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . Here are some of the ways schools are supporting safe and effective working practices when using digital tools for education:

  • Providing support for parents and carers to promote safe online practices with their children.
  • Using the free Parent Info embed tool to add online safety information to the school website and newsletters, providing useful information, tips and resources for families.
  • Offering online safety workshops for parents and carers.
  • Sharing information via school social network sites and website blog.
  • Providing online safety tips, such as, how to hold age-appropriate conversations with children about online safety; via the ThinkUKnow website run by the National Crime Agency.
  • Sharing with parents, guidance on screen time. The Royal College of Paediatrics have published a guide for parents on the effects of screen time and key questions to ask.
  • Recommending to parents/carers the NSPCC guide to setting up parental controls, if children are spending more time online to help ensure they are not accessing inappropriate materials.
  • Reminding parents and pupils of the reporting procedure for grooming or online sexual abuse from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command (CEOP).

Activity 1

Timing: 20 minutes

Complete the following review of your school’s digital environment. Use this as a checklist to begin formulating a strategy to develop a digital environment in your school.

Have a think about the following statements, and score your thoughts, with 1 being ‘not at all true’, to 5 being ‘true for all’.

  1. Pupils can access up-to-date personal and lesson information on their devices.
  2. There is a dedicated adviser on assistive technology and a ring-fenced budget.
  3. Different groups of pupils are consulted/represented in decisions about IT infrastructure.
  4. Learning data (e.g. from the learning platform) is used to support planning and to enhance the learning experience.
  5. Pupils have support to build an e-portfolio or other digital evidence of their achievements.
  6. We have a five-year (at least) strategy for allocating resources to meet pupils' changing needs.
  7. Classrooms and other learning spaces are designed to support the use of digital devices e.g. multiple sockets, desk space, flexible furniture, secure storage, plug-and-play screens.
  8. Pupils have support to develop their information skills: searching, evaluating and managing content, referencing and sharing, avoiding plagiarism.
  9. Pupils have a full induction into all the digital systems provided by the school.
  10. Pupils have access to up-to-date hardware and software including any specialised applications they need for their learning.
  11. A clear Bring Your Own policy supports pupils to use their own devices, services etc appropriately.
  12. A video database or video how-to service (e.g. is available to support Pupils' IT skills.
  13. IT support and skills training is available on a drop-in basis throughout the year groups for both pupils and staff.
  14. We provide classroom IT that works reliably, and core systems without downtime.
  15. Pupils use diverse digital resources e.g. screencasts, podcasts, virtual labs, apps, animations, e-tutorials.
  16. There is robust wifi in all the spaces pupils use, and they can use it to access their own digital services.

After completing the review, note down some actions to follow up on in your Action grid (only use this link if you haven’t already downloaded the file).

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