Online safety

Posted in Uncategorized

Internet safety

This article by Keir McDonald MBE reminds us of the importance of keeping children safe on line.

We spend so much time teaching kids to look both ways before crossing the street, not to talk to strangers and what to do if they get lost in a shopping mall.

But how much time do you spend telling kids how to make safe choices online?

For today’s generation of children, making safe choices pertains to physical as well as cyber environments. Children today don’t know life without the Internet, and need guidance navigating life online as much as offline.

While it can be challenging for teachers to work e-safety into their classroom curriculum, the topic has never been more important.

Here are three ways for educators to effectively introduce e-safety to young students.

Help Children Understand Safe Sharing on the Internet

Begin by clearly illustrating to children that the Internet is public domain. Many children don’t understand the consequences of sharing inappropriate information on the Internet.

Introduce children to the concept that some things, such as photos or content that could be hurtful to someone else, should not be shared online.

An effective way to teach children about appropriate sharing on the Internet is to use real-life examples. Consider sharing with students a specific example where someone shared something inappropriate on the Internet. Start by citing mistakes made by public figures such as one of David Cameron’s many Twitter gaffes or Miley Cyrus’ numerous online mistakes.

Older students can also write or talk about a time they personally shared something online and regretted it. It’s very important to also discuss the consequences of these actions.

After sharing, engage in role-play to identify both good and bad examples of what to share online. Start by having students share with whom they have emailed recently and what they talked about in the email, followed by something that would be inappropriate to talk about in an email to that same person. This is simple but extremely effective in that it gets kids thinking about the fact that it’s not safe or smart to share some things online.

Understand With Whom Specific Information Can Be Shared

Talking to students about confidential information, such as passwords, is also a critical component of e-safety.

Children create online usernames and passwords for things like school programmes, game websites, social networking, and posting photos every day. Because parents and teachers often monitor these passwords, children don’t think twice about sharing this information with their friends.

Kids need to understanding when it’s ok to share passwords and other confidential information, and with whom, so they can learn how to keep passwords safe and secure.

Here teachers can role-play scenarios like sharing passwords with friends, discussing where passwords get written down or when and what it’s ok to share via email.

Identify Safe and Unsafe Websites

Part of teaching kids e-safety includes introducing new vocabulary. Terms like download, computer virus, block, stranger, personal, cyber bullying, and bullying are all important for children to understand.

Teachers can begin this conversation by creating a list of specific websites that students visit while in school. Together, the class will create a list of safe and appropriate websites.
Consider keeping this list of safe websites as a resource that kids can use when browsing the Internet. If possible, photocopy the list so that students can take them home to share with their families.

About the Author

Keir McDonald MBE is founder and Director of EduCare, an online training solutions company that specialise in child protection, exploitation and online safety, and bullying and child neglect. EduCare is associated with both Kidscape and Family Lives and customers include over 4000 schools and colleges and 12000 pre-schools as well as councils, NHS, charities and more.

A history of the world in 2 mins!

Posted in Thoughts
Hold onto your seat, don’t blink your eyes for a second! This is amazing.
Seventeen year old Joe Bush got a high school assignment to make a
video reproduction.  He chose history as a theme and tucked it all into two minutes.
Took pictures from the internet, added the track Mind Heist by Zack Hemsey (from
the movie Inception) and then you get this.
Hold on tight!


#Nurture 1415

Posted in Thoughts

This will be my third year of taking part in the Nurture posts. As @chocoTzar says, in twitter terms that is a LONG time! I’m quite proud to still be in there and certainly social media has given me some great moments. The ‘rules’ for this year have been set to make posts a little less like War and Peace and more like a review and some hopes. If you have the time and inclination have a look at my past nurture posts see HERE.

Some of the many positives from 2014:

  1. 100 Word Challenge has exploded! It has an average of 1500 entries each week from across the globe and the interaction between classes has been wonderful to see. This has given me quite a high profile across social media and in real terms with me visiting schools to share my passion for creative writing.
  2. This high profile, through 100wc, has given me the chance to meet some wonderful people and have some amazing experiences. We went to Ireland ( see Irish Odyssey series), Sheffield, Durham, Hampshire and Wales among other places and worked with staff and children. I discovered that I quite like it! Having the chance to keynote at conferences was also great fun and it was great to meet up with so many amazing educators.
  3. My blogging profile has also got me noticed. This brought me the chance to meet Gok Wan and also to appear in Woman and Home. Who would have thought that little old me would be in such company! To meet up again with Alexander McCall Smith was a great delight especially as he is now supporting 100 WC.
  4. My confidence is slowly growing. There have been lots of wobbly times but they don’t seem to last as long and I’m learning to listen to Nick and my body to get myself into a better place sooner.
  5. The year has shown me that being a pensioner is no barrier to doing anything. It may take a bit longer or more planning but it is doable if you want it!

Hopes for 2015:

  1. Continue building my confidence so that my tummy ‘dropping in fear’ does not happen so often.
  2. Visit more schools to share 100 WC and show how children can really fly with an extended audience (Working with Julia)
  3. Continue to provide support  whether that is in person through my governance work or school visits or virtually through social media. It is a wonderful feeling that I can still make a difference!
  4. Learn how to have ‘empty head’ days when I can devote myself to Nick and our life together. He is a very considerate chap and knows that 100WC or the blogs are still there in my head when I’m supposed to be relaxing!
  5. Properly enjoy the opportunities life offers me and develop the strategies that we have already started to avoid me carrying everything around in my hear all the time.

Whether you are in education or not, I do hope your 2015 will bring lots of learning and great experiences!


A VERY useful book!

Posted in Governors' Corner, Resource Centre

You know when you go to a conference and there is a book stall  and you would love to buy at least 5/6 of them because they all have some bits in them that would be useful? Well this book is the answer to having to ‘multi’ buy.

It has been curated by Rachel Jones and contains ten tips, hints and suggestions on a variety of topics from a variety of educational folk.


So you have ideas on technologies, teaching art, blogging, learner voice, RE, Maths-  to name a few. The back cover shows you the extent of the expertise inside the covers and the depth of cross curricular, cross phase collaboration to be had.


I passionately believe every NQT whatever school they are in and whatever age group they teach should have a copy of this book. It is a great comfort with all it’s suggestions, none of which are rocket science. All the proceeds are going to a charities to help the most vulnerable children in our society. Order from Amazon

Oh and my bit? Well that’s about my other passion which is governance. you can find it on page 76-77!


Talking the talk but what about the walk?

Posted in 100 Word Challenge

As you may know, I’m the founder of 100 Word Challenge. It is a weekly writing challenge for youngsters under 16. I set a prompt of a few words or a picture and they have 100 words to produce a creative piece of writing. This is posted on their class blog then linked to where a team of volunteers (Team 100) comment and support the writing.

It has had a huge impact on the standard of writing in some schools across the world as well as providing great motivation for some of our reluctant writers. Linking with blogging as it does, adds a kudos to it which really engages the children.

In previous years, the team of volunteers has come from a variety of places, mostly via tweets from me that persuaded and bullied folks to give up an hour a week. Each team member is given a set of guidelines and 10 numbers to comment on. The numbers are spread across a range of 1 to 2000 so to have 10 numbers to comment on would mean a huge response, well over the maximum the challenge has had. If you were to have 10 to do, they can easily be done in an hour. Volunteers do not have to be teachers or even connected to the schools.

As it has been shown that the comments are what makes the difference to the children, and, in an attempt to provide at least one comment per entry, when classes signed up this year they were asked to put forward the name of someone to join Team 100. The challenge is free to enter and can make such a difference, (in one case as much as 5 points score improvement in two terms), I don’t think it is too much to ask for one person to be prepared to give a little time to leave a supportive comment. Most schools have just one class entering 100WC which is one person per school!

I had assumed that most class teachers would automatically comment on their own classes entries so, on the form, it asks for someone other than the class teacher. There are still some classes who have yet to find someone and today, in response to another grumble from me, I received this from a class teacher:

‘ I know it is not supposed to the classroom teacher, but I am not sure any others will make that commitment at my school. ‘
I had to read it a couple of times and found myself feeling so sorry for this teacher, sad for the children and then angry! How many school visions and mission statements include a line about ‘all the children in our school’? How many espouse support and aspiration for all?
Now this is not a foot stamp because people don’t want to join my game. This attitude seems to explain why our positive wizards in school – you know the ones who take up new initiatives and ideas that schools thrive on – get so downhearted. Surely SLTs need to nurture these folks and not assume they will just get on with it. Schools are about community and initiatives like 100WC can help unite members of it. I do know that the school will gladly use any improvement taking part in the challenge brings to their results!

Am I really expecting too much that schools share in the encouragement of pupils? The joy of 100 Word Challenge is that it provides an extended audience from around the world. It appears that some schools are not prepared to back their words with actions and become part of that audience and that makes me very, very sad.