I had a discussion the other night on Twitter with @FarrowMr about the importance of teaching computing in primary schools. He is of the opinion that the only really important aspect to teach is E-Safety. While I don't agree about the lack of importance of other areas, I do agree that teaching children about E-Safety is vital. This was brought home to me in a very real way recently.
Previously in our school, E-Safety was something that was taught to the children once a year for an hour in a fairly dry manner using the same video from the ThinkYouKnow website. The video is a useful resource but it had become like chewing gum for too long as far as the children were concerned.
This year I have taken on a new role which involves leading computing as well as teaching it to all the classes in KS2. The thought of watching this video another eight times makes me want to stick pins in my eyes! As I am lucky enough to have been given some autonomy regarding how I deliver the new computing curriculum, I decided to change the way I approached the teaching of E-Safety.
First of all, I have changed the frequency that it is taught. To me, it is a little like teaching maths in real-life contexts as in it shouldn't be taught as an add-on at the end of a week's work. Instead it should be something that is taught as an on-going process so that the children practise the principles of E-Safety whenever they are working on-line. I now teach half-termly E-Safety sessions focussing on different aspects of E-Safety. However, whenever the children are working on something that requires them to be online, I will do a short reminder of that half-term's focus. This helps to embed the message.
With Year 6, I decided to take a slightly different slant on E-Safety this half-term. The focus was cyber-bullying. Rather than come at from the usual 'What would you do if you were being bullied?' angle, I decided to flip it by asking them to imagine that they were the parent of a Year 5 child who they thought was being cyber-bullied. To spark discussion, I showed them a short animation from the website www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/ To my delight, a very mature discussion ensued with all manner of practical suggestions ranging from 'asking my child's friends if they had noticed anything' to 'I would look for changes in how they behave, like if they became sadder'.
The children really took the idea onboard maybe because I had given them a sense of greater maturity by asking them to act in the role of a parent. This discussion led us into designing a 'Parent's Guide To Cyberbullying' using an app of their choice. The results reflected the quality of the discussion. For resources for teaching e-safety try the following :