Schools to be rewarded for ensuring safety of pupils online

Plans to tackle cyber bullying and the exploitation of young people online have been revealed by the Scottish Government.

A badge will be awarded to all schools that demonstrate a strategic approach to cyber resilience and internet safety.

To obtain a reward, schools must complete a self-assessment to identify their expertise in tackling the issue.

Developed by Digital Schools Awards in partnership with Education Scotland and the Child Protection Unit, the scheme will provide education professionals with resources and support to help pupils stay safe online.

The strategy will aim to encourage open dialogue between teachers and pupils on cyber safety.

Schools are also encouraged to put in place measures such as counselling for children who face issues on social media.

Cabinet Minister Maree Todd
Cabinet Minister Maree Todd

Announcing the initiative on Tuesday, Minister for Children and Young People Maree Todd said the increasing ease of access to the internet meant online safety should be considered a top priority.

“The proliferation of the internet and advances in digital technologies have brought around much positive change,” Ms Todd said.

“But in an age where mobile technologies are integrated into almost every aspect of our lives, ensuring young people enjoy a positive experience online needs to be a top priority.”

She added: “This is the first initiative of its kind to be delivered in Scotland, that supports teachers with information and practical resources.

“By doing so we are better equipping them to educate pupils on the benefits and potential dangers of the internet.

“A multi-agency approach which sees Scottish Government bodies working in partnership with industry, means the programme is well placed to support teachers to implement strategies in schools.”

The framework has received the support of large technology companies including HP, Microsoft and Intel, as well as being backed by Police Scotland.

George Brasher, HP UK and Ireland managing director, said: “Keeping young people safe online has never been more important.

“Through this initiative, HP is proud to support schools in ensuring that young people grow up in a culture where staying safe online is as natural to them as any other aspect of their digital lives.”