Alongside ensuring your e-safety arrangements are robust, it’s essential that schools and colleges teach children and young people about staying safe online – both in and outside of school (UK Council for Child Internet Safety, 2018a).
Teachers should have ongoing conversations with children about the benefits and dangers of the internet and create an open environment for children and young people to ask questions and raise any concerns.
Teaching online safety should not be restricted to IT and computing lessons. Embedding key messages about staying safe online throughout the curriculum helps ensure that children of all ages are taught online safety skills.
We’ve developed a range of engaging and age appropriate teaching resources to help teachers deliver e-safety lessons and create an ongoing conversation with children and young people about online safety.
The Share Aware lesson plans and teaching guidance can be used with 5-11-year-olds to discuss topics such as sharing pictures and chatting to strangers online. These resources have received the PSHE Association Quality Assurance Mark.
We developed a school pack about online bullying for 11-16-year-olds with the Anti-Bullying Alliance and Diana Award. The resources can be adapted for use in lessons, assemblies or in school councils and focus on what children and young people can do if they witness cyberbullying.
Our Making sense of relationships lesson plans focus on teaching personal safety and healthy relationships for 10-16-year-olds, and includes topics on online safety and social media. These resources were developed with the PSHE Association.
A set of lesson plans, films and activities are available through It's Not OK for children and young people aged 11 and over. These reinforce the importance of building and maintaining positive relationships and how to recognise and respond to inappropriate behaviour. They cover topics including online safety, grooming and sexting.
Teaching children and young people with SEND
Children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) may require different teaching methods to learn about online safety, such as:
- tailored teaching materials, including visual, verbal and multi-media resources
- more detailed explanation of complex issues
- continuous reminders and reinforcement of e-safety messages
- a slower, smaller-step approach to building online resilience
(Assiter, Avery and The Education People, 2018).
> Use our Love Live resources to talk to young people with learning disabilities about online safety and other topics
You may want to invite visitors to supplement and reinforce your school’s e-safety curriculum.
Visitors with the right expertise can provide online safety information to children and young people, staff, volunteers and parents and carers.
When used as part of a broader and balanced curriculum, this can make a significant contribution towards children’s, staff and parents’ online safety awareness.
Visitors should be viewed as educational resources, not as a one-off or tick-box event.
(UK Council for Child Internet Safety, 2018a).
> Read the UK Council for Child Internet Safety guidance on using external visitors to support online safety education
Talking to children and young people about online abuse
We’ve created resources that will help you talk to children about online safety topics. They can help you respond to disclosures, difficult conversations that may arise and any online safety incidents, discoveries, allegations and concerns.
Our poster and animation provide tips to help you ensure children always feel listened to. Both are available in English and Welsh.
Find out how to prepare and have a conversation with children and young people you work or volunteer with about difficult, upsetting or sensitive topics.
Get advice on what to do if you need to help a young person who has received or sent an explicit image, video or message.
Our elearning course on online safety will help you ensure that staff and volunteers are aware of the risks that children and young people can be exposed to online and know how to respond appropriately.
In England, the Department for Education (DfE) has published non-statutory guidance on teaching online safety in school (PDF) (DfE, 2019).
The DfE has also published non-statutory guidance for schools and colleges on harmful online challenges and online hoaxes (DfE, 2021b).
The Scottish Government has produced Guidance on developing policies to promote the safe and responsible use of mobile technology in schools and on Enhancing learning and teaching through the use of digital technology (Scottish Government, 2013; Scottish Government, 2016).
The Welsh Government has online safety resources for schools, including lesson plans, tips and resources for each year group.
The UK Council for Internet Safety also has helpful online safety resources.
If a child or young person needs confidential help and advice, direct them to Childline.
Calls to 0800 1111 are free and children can also contact Childline online or read about online and mobile safety on the Childline website.
You can also download or order Childline posters and wallet cards.