Texting acronyms – out of date info?

More of a Monday morning observation than anything….

The week before last Parentinfo was all over the news promoting the new website which is aimed at schools and gives a host of up to date information on a range of topical issues.
On Radio 4 they were talking about the section of the site that deals with ‘text speak’ and how young people use their own language to confuse / outsmart parents / carers and teachers. The example they used was ‘P999’ which means parent alert and ‘420’ meaning marijuana.

I have to say I have never come across with of these codes when speaking to young people, so I took advantage of a training session in Bristol last week. I delivered 12 sessions with students and had contact with around 3500 young people. At the start of the sessions I asked for a show of hands if anyone had ever heard of either of the acronyms, not a single person raised their hand.

Not the most scientific of experiments I agree, but it makes me wonder if we should be just signposting parents to places like Urban Dictionary instead of dredging up years old scary acronyms about sex, drugs and rock n roll for parents and staff to panic over? It feels like a bit of a step back, like we are diverting from the real issue of empowerment and education and reverting back to scaremongering, which is never a good thing.

That grumble aside, I do like the Parentinfo site and find it has some really useful resources. I just feel this one section is outdated.

Right ‘Team UK’ – lets get focussed!

Hi all, I hope you had a fantastic summer and are feeling refreshed and ready to inspire another generation of young people.

Lets not beat around the bush, today there have been a story on BBC Radio 4 about a 14 year old boy who sexted a 14 year old girl and has ended up on the Police radar, it is claimed it may show up on any future DBS the boy applies for which means he may have difficulty getting job that involves working with young people or vulnerable adults. This throws up all sorts of questions around how we should deal with incidents like this. Does your school have a policy in place? What would you do? Contact me for best practice on dealing with sexting incidents. I can send a booklet that details how sexting should be handled – please take a moment to read it, familiarise yourself and include it into your schools safeguarding procedures. Sexting is not going to go away any time soon and we need to be open to the fact that it is happening and ensure that young people are aware of the consequences if they choose to send naked pictures of themselves, or pass on pictures of others. In the eyes of the law a sexted image of anyone under the age of 18 is classed as an indecent image of a child. If you would like to know how to better protect your students please drop me a line, I would love to talk through best practice with you.

In other news Online Safety is clearly referenced in the updated guidelines issued by OfSTED in their new ‘Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills from September 2015’ document.
There is very clear emphasis on ensuring that staff, students, governors and the wider school community are engaged with the online safety agenda. Inspectors will ask all stakeholders about this during inspections, and will be looking for clear evidence that the schools are taking this seriously. A once a year assembly is in no way adequate to effectively safeguard students. I always recommend that schools utilise the 360 Safe school self review tool. It is free to use and takes a holistic look at online safety, covering everything from Policy to Inspection to Training.

I am still offering free audits but these are limited – if you are interested in a free school online safety audit please drop me a line. There really is no catch!

Happy educating!