Staveley Juniors

I have met Sarah, the Headteacher of Staveley Junior school on several occasions. Can I sum her up in 1 word, yes, and its feisty.

Sarah explained to me that her school is the 9th most deprived school in Derbyshire, with high rates locally of unemployment, crime and disability coupled with low incomes and low educational attainment it would be very easy to write off those that live in this area. But not Sarah. She has very high expectations of her pupils and she is driving standards up, supported by an excellent team.

Sarah had attended a few of my training sessions before she first spoke to me about the 360 Online Safety Award. As an assessor for the 360 I can clearly see the benefits that using this free tool brings into the whole school community, it allows you to take a holistic look at Online Safety and for those school’s who have the award it hits the ‘Good and Outstanding practice’ indicators for an Ofsted inspection.

Sarah had been using the tool for a while but wanted the benefit of my experience to ensure we had all of the evidence and at the right levels. We decided to start with a whole school audit and look at all areas of the school’s Online Safety provision.

Following the initial audit we drew up a plan of action and addressed the few areas that the school needed to concentrate on. On returning to the school for a follow up I decided that I would hang around the school gates and speak to parents about their experiences in school around online safety. I spoke to a particularly grumpy dad who told me that yes, the school were on top of online safety – he had been asked to come in and speak to the Headteacher as his daughter had uploaded a load of clips of herself and the school wanted to make sure he understood the risks associated with this. Another parent told me her daughter was a Digital Leader and yes the school also educates parents alongside students. All very positive.

Once in school I reviewed the evidence and the updates as recommended. Following this we made the decision to apply for the 360 Safe Award.

Sarah was keen to be the first mainstream school in Derbyshire to be awarded the 360. Bennerley Fields, which is a special school near Ilkeston had secured the award around 12 months ago alongside the Royal School for the Deaf, which is a Derby City school.

On the day of the assessment I think I was just as nervous as the school staff! Poor Mr Drake hadn’t slept at all and was keen to get the day underway, he had invested the largest amount of time, effort and energy into the process and was hopeful for a positive result.

It was great to have Chris Enright as our assessor and he started with setting the grounding for the day and explaining how the morning would pan out.

All stakeholders would be spoken to, parents, children, staff, governors, tech staff (and consultants!) and following this a decision would be made to see if the school reached the benchmark to be awarded the 360 Online Safety award.

The assessor heard about the multiple online safety weeks that school hold throughout the year, the amazing work that the digital leaders do, some stunning work that is woven through the curriculum and the future plans that the school have to build on their current practice and provision. We discussed training, including the specialist training that staff had attended and the use of other great resources such as the DITTO magazine which staff and parents found really useful. The whole morning was a true celebration of the amazing hard work of the staff team, students and stakeholders.

The governors had a clear understanding of online safety and were made aware of issues that may arise, and described the input they have in developing policies and shaping change within the school, they were also part of the school online safety group which is lead by the school parliament.

The students were able to describe how to keep themselves safe and how Mr Drake would run into the dining hall and shout out one of the letters that make up the S.M.A.R.T. acronym and the children had to shout back what that letter stands for, Mr Drake is an inspiring teacher and he really engages with all of the students in school. His passion for keeping children safe online is evident for all to see.

Mercury AVS provide the technical support to the school and Mark and Tim were on hand to meet Chris and explain monitoring, filtering, data protection, cloud computing and accountability. It was my first time dealing with Mercury AVS and I really like their ethos. Their company started because they were fed up of schools being charged though the nose for very shoddy work so they started a business built upon providing a quality product at a fair price (that sounds like an advert.. It wasn’t meant to, but I was impressed!) They were knowledgeable and helpful and clearly had a very good relationship with the school.

After all of the evidence had been heard Chris took the time to evaluate all of the evidence in front of him, he read through the policies and supplementary evidence that the school had provided and then came to the decision that the school DID meet the benchmark for the award!

Thank goodness – but really no surprise due to the hard work of everyone involved!

Staveley Juniors intend on sharing their journey and progress with other Derbyshire Schools, starting with others in their cluster. This is a school that will continue to grow and develop and I am watching them, supporting them and will be on hand to offer further support and guidance should they need it.

If you are interested in Consultancy to help you reach the benchmark levels for the 360 Online Safety Award please contact me, I would be delighted to help.



Connected toys and the Internet of Things

Earlier this week I attended a Round Table event host by FOSI, it was supported by Microsoft and attended by Apple, NSPCC, IWF, various researchers and universities and other key stakeholders who have an interest in keeping children and their online data safe.

The session started with a hacker who showed us how easy it was to hack a smart doll and remove the library of unacceptable words from her databank so that she could swear like a trooper, we also looked at a dinosaur who was very similar to Siri or Alexa in that you could ask it questions ‘How far away is the moon?’ ‘what is the square root of 16?’ I guess it won’t be too long before these smart devices are completing our children’s homework for them.

We were then shown an internet connected sex toy (I kid you not) A vibrator which has a camera embedded in the end of it. The hackers were able to map the times of day that these devices were used and their exact location. More worryingly the pictures and videos that the devices had captured were viewable with no real hacking skills needed. You can do the same with baby monitors too.

We considered smart nappies that can analyse urine and remotely store that info, baby monitors that measure heartbeat and respiration rates but are not medically endorsed (what happens if you get a bad reading, do you take your baby to the E.R.?)

We also discussed smart teddy bears and how SEND children may feel more comfortable talking to them, and what if disclosures are made and that information is stored remotely and key words analysed. Would the manufacturer have a duty of care to disclose this possible abuse?

We considered how much of our private and personal data is being captured, stored and used for future marketing.

I thought a lot about internet connected toys and devices, ones that use bluetooth and wifi or connect to app on our phone or tablet. I thought about toys that don’t have a screen and so we don’t consider ourselves as being online while we use them or about how much of our private and personal information they transmit and store, share, sell…

I thought about Christmas and how children Santa Sacks will be brimmed with devices, toys and games which will share where they are and will always be listening to what they say. Toys that will learn their voices and accents and reply and respond in a way which is pleasing to the child.

I wondered how we embrace this to make it as safe as it can be.

Specialist governor training – its a hit!

April and May have seen me roll out my newly developed training session aimed solely at school governors. The feedback has been incredible – thank you so much to all that have come along and participated!

We have looked at Online Safety through the eyes of KCSiE (2016) and we considered ‘What does outstanding practice look like?’ All governors left the session with a clear understanding of their statutory responsibilities, and were heavily armed with information to take back to school and with questions to ask all stakeholders. Off the back of this information they will be able to devise a plan of action to ensure any gaps in provision are filled.

I was really excited about delivering this course as we know that governor involvement is fairly low when considering the Online Safety landscape. I am aware that there are some online courses available (I even *star* in one myself!) but my feeling is that many of our governors have not been born into the digital revolution and they really value the opportunity to be able to interact with others and ask questions. Being able to facilitate and encourage questions and the sharing of good practice really enriches both the learning experience and the confidence levels of all involved. The governors are also aware of sources of support and that I am always only an email away if they have a burning question to ask.

Of all of the courses I have run these have felt a bit special. I could feel the atmosphere in the room prior to the session starting – not quite doom and gloom but a definite sense of foreboding, and to watch animated, happy, positive governors leave at the end with a sense of direction and a plan in mind gave me an enormous feeling of satisfaction. I do love my job!

As these courses were so well received I have added on some new dates, if you are interested please contact me to book a space.

Planned sessions are:

Lee Wood Hotel, Buxton – June 21st
Morley Hayes Golf Club, Morley – July 18th and November 21st
Casa Hotel, Chesterfield – July 19th and November 23rd

All sessions are held in the evening from 18.30 until 20.30. The charge £49 per person and I recommend at least 2 governors from each school attend.

If you can not make these dates or venues and would like this training for your cluster please contact me, I would be happy to help.

Now time for some more research around the dark web… a wise man once told me excellence never stops – he was right 🙂

How do we engage parents and carers more effectively?

Ed Tucker, Lee Pardy McLoughlin, Judith Staff, Carl Gottlieb and I shared our frustrations on Twitter after reading ‘Growing Up Digital’ which is a report from the Childrens Commissioner about, well, young people going up digital…. We have decided to write a formal response to the Childrens Commissioner and I will publish this in full when we have formally delivered it.

Before that happens I would like to share my piece which highlights some of the issues that I face as a trainer when it comes to engaging parents and carers.

I hope you find it interesting.


I have been delivering Online Safety training for staff, governors, students and parents / carers for around 6 years now and in all that time my biggest challenge remains parental engagement. I have a good deal of experience with parents and of their frustrations when it comes to keeping children safe. As in all areas of parenting some parents are proactive, some are passive, some wish they could do more and some have just about given up.

I do however believe that parents welcome advice and support but the barriers that prevent that engagement are as prevalent as ever, and part of this problem is with how we try break down these barriers and increase our reach.

In some ways I really can’t blame parents for not attending Online Safety sessions that are held in school. Let’s face it who really wants to sit in a school hall on a wet Wednesday evening and listen to a random stranger telling us about the horrors of being online; that the internet is full of strange weirdo’s who are just looking for opportunities to gain access to our children, that everyone is at risk of sexual exploitation, that we are not fulfilling our parenting duties properly. I recently sat through a ‘parents online safety session’ without admitting to the trainer that this is what I do as a job. It was awful and ticked all of the above boxes. Parents left the session feeling scared, confused, inadequate and unsure of what their next steps should be, with no strategies to better safeguard their children, no back up, no prevention, no educational resources, hints or tips.

        “She got an iPad for Christmas, I really should put some settings on it, but I don’t know how” (parent yr 3 girl).

I am lucky to be able to go into classrooms and work directly with children. I asked 2 separate year 4 groups of children at a large primary school;

“How many of you use an x-box, PlayStation or similar to connect to the internet?” in both groups around 2/3 of the class raised their hands.

I then said “keep your hand raised if you play online games with friends from school or other people that you know in real life” most children in both classes kept their hands up.

I then asked the first group “how many of you play online games with strangers – people you don’t know in real life?” all but 2 children kept their hands raised and these children received stares and glowers from the others in the class that could mean only one thing – ‘don’t tell Miss that!”

The second group I phrased the question differently; “how many of you have the exciting opportunity to play games with people from all around the world, people that are just your in-game friends?” It will come as no surprise that most children kept their hands raised.

Whilst my questions were hardly scientific it shows that children know the right things to say and they know when they are doing something they shouldn’t be. Most children will say they know more about the internet than their parents, and a significant number of parents would agree with that. The problem is that children will share what is in their best interests to share. Which is why when trying to drum up interest in a parents session it concerns me when a parent said;

        “I don’t need to attend your session, my son tells me everything I need to know” (parent yr4 child)

When we start to take parenting advice from our children we are on quite a slippery slope. Usually the parents that do turn up to sessions are never the ones you want to reach, they are already alert to some of the risks faced by their children and they have filters in place, they monitor, they question and take an interest in their child’s online life. We also need to open our eyes to the fact that the children of money rich, time poor parents are just as vulnerable as they have access to the latest kit and often left to their own devices to use it.

        “I can’t believe she has done that [sexting], she has a horse…” (parent yr 9 girl)

Parents seem to forget that children are naturally inquisitive, they are risk takers and like to push boundaries – it is a natural part of growing up. Parents need to be taught about how the risks faced by children online are just as serious as the risks faced offline and how to deal with any worries or concerns they have as they would offline concerns.

We have many groups of children who do not benefit from Online Safety education, such as those who are home educated, long term sick and traveller children.

We don’t have enough high quality resources for SEND children and those that have English as a second language, including British Sign Language. We know that our SEND students are particularly vulnerable online as the internet is a great leveller and additional needs can easily be hidden from view.

Some of our parents may have additional needs and we need to support them better. We need to ensure that the resources we are rolling out are fit for purpose and meet the needs of all. We need to ensure that the education we are giving to parents is relevant and up to date as some parents base their advice on ‘how it was in my day’ with no thought or consideration to how things may have changed;

        “I gave him my old iPhone, but its ok, he can’t get online because I haven’t put any credit on it” (parent of yr 10 SEND boy)

Tech has become so important to our children that the fear of having a device removed is a very powerful motivator for our children to become secretive about their behaviour or they may delete their online activity by clearing their history or use private browsing;

        “She was on a site called ‘Talk to Strangers’ so I confiscated her phone for 2 weeks, she   hasn’t been on the internet on her phone since then, and I know that’s true because I check her history every night” (Overheard, primary teacher and parent of yr 9 girl)

We need to ensure that parents dot have a knee jerk reaction when they find their children have done something risky. Parents need to be taught to open the lines of communication, talk to their children and be a safe place to fall if everything goes wrong. We know that children value the support of their parents but while parents are still confused about what to do and so children are guiding them, we are fighting a losing battle.

We need an innovative system that will truly engage parents and carers, one that is simple, empowering and effective. One which enable parents and carers to feel confident in their ability to keep their children safe online and in turn their children empowered to make safe choices.

We need to engage parents better and we need to do it now.

        “I wish I could tell the parents about the cases of grooming and CSE we have recently had at   this school, if they knew it was happening right here they would come to these sessions, because they don’t see it they don’t think their children are at risk”

(Headteacher, Primary school)

The problem with sexting….

So here I am, a 40-something lady reminiscing about my youth. I clearly remember the day when a friend and I were poking about her parents’ bedroom and we found a full frontal, naked shot of her mum tucked away in her bedside drawer. True enough we shouldn’t have been in there (and we certainly should not have been looking in her bedside cabinet) but we were, and we did. It clearly had an impact on me and I am glad to say my friends mum never knew that we found the picture. I always keep this firmly in mind when discussing sexting.

It reminds me that sexting isn’t new; taking naked, semi naked and provocative images has been happening for as long as we have had the equipment to capture the pictures. The big difference is that in ‘the olden days’ we had to take 12, 24 or even 36 shots and send the film off for developing. If you were lucky the film would come back without big ‘X’ stickers over the nudey bits.. but I think most importantly you had 2 weeks grace where you could decide if sharing that photo was a wise idea.

Polaroid cameras were a kind of ‘in beween’ where a naked pic could be taken and printed straightaway but it was still just a photo and so sharing it was difficult, but it did herald a shift in the kind of pictures we could take without third party involvement.

One of the problems with sexting is that we just don’t seem to consider the consequences. Nowadays we can point, click and share in a matter of seconds which means we don’t have that processing time, that thinking time – is this really a good idea…?

Today I had an amazing day at West Nottinghamshire College working with students aged 16 – 18+, we were discussing sexting, the law, and mental health. Most students seemed confused that at 16 you can have sex but you can’t watch it (lively debate) and with parental consent you can get married but not share intimate pictures with your husband or wife.

To be honest, I think the thing that surprised students the most was the discussion around how much information we leak without realising it, in particular when we looked at the EXIF information that can be embedded in digital photos.


I love working with students…

For in depth staff training around dealing with sexting incidents please visit my training page

Training accredited by Derby City and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Boards!

To infinity and beyond!

Today has been a really exciting day for me, the culmination of many months of hard work and critical reflection has paid off as my training has been approved and accredited by Derby and Derbyshire SCB’s. This means that the Boards have evaluated a range of my materials and lesson plans and have approved them as blummin’ amazing (I may be paraphrasing a bit there!), and they are happy to endorse my work and recommend me to the DSCB partners as a trusted and safe training provider with a sound safeguarding knowledge. I seriously could not be happier!

Over the last few months I have taken a really critical look at my materials and really changed them around ensuring that not only do they they still reflect best practice but the content is as up to date as it possibly can be.

I have always had a clear focus on empowering young people and ensuring they are at the heart of all we do, but I have also really considered parental engagement and I am currently looking at how we engage with parents better – there has to be a brilliant way of doing this so I am trawling through all the latest research to try and pick out some ideas which we can trial.

Also new in are specialist sessions which will engage ‘hard to reach’ families as part of the Troubled Families programme, early years (nurseries and childminders), governors and SEND students and of course I continue to push the 360 Safe, which is a free school self evaluation tool which takes a holistic view of Online Safety.

I am running several full day sessions in May on Managing Safeguarding Incidents and Evidencing Outstanding Practice with venues such as the Gothic Warehouse at Cromford Mill, Matlock and the Casa Hotel in Chesterfield – a buffet lunch is included (going for the big sell here folks!) Dates also to be announced for Derby City. These sessions are aimed at DSL’s and SLT’s who need a really good understanding of sexting and how to manage this within your setting and a good look at Ofsted and how we evidence best practice.

**You do not have to be a Derby City or Derbyshire school to attend these sessions**

If you are interested in booking a place or would like me to come into your setting to deliver training directly to your staff team, students, parents or governors please just drop me a line. I really look forward to hearing from you.


Online Safety for Parents – not scare tactics!


Hey parents & carers, how would you like to come and sit in school hall on a wet Wednesday evening and have some stranger scaring the heck out of you by convincing you the internet is full of weirdos, bullies and paedophiles?

No doubt you will come home from said session and remove anything that needs to be plugged in or has a charger and replace with slate and chalk, consider a move to the most remote part of the UK and insist on playing ‘old maid’, ‘snap’ and ‘go fish’ as they are a much safer alternative than Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat..


Actually the internet is a really amazing space, it allows creativity, problem solving, education and fun to collide in a way that is producing some amazingly creative solutions to age old problems. Our kids are smashing boundaries, thinking outside of the box and exploring new technologies in ways we haven’t even considered – it really is ‘just wow!’

As parents we need to be aware of what our children are doing online, we need to engage and we need to support and give guidance. Our kids may know how to use that tablet or phone without looking through a manual, but they don’t instinctively know how to stay safe – we need to teach and guide the same way we would if they needed to cross the road or learn to swim.

We wouldn’t just say ‘make your way across that busy dual carriageway – be careful that you don’t get run over’… We would provide rules, boundaries, advice and bit by bit we would allow them the freedom to cross that road by themselves (even though we may be guilty of hiding round the corner and taking a cheeky sneak peek to make sure they are following the rules we set!)

Parenting online is no different to parenting offline, the same messages apply. We shouldn’t be scared by it and we shouldn’t be advised around what is safe by our children because we think they know or understand online risk better than we do.

So, come on parents – we have got this, we can do it…  start those conversations today, show an interest, set some realistic boundaries, perhaps around usage, screen free time before bed or which apps are ok to use,  but most importantly tell your kids that if something happens online that scares, worries or upsets them, you are a safe place to fall, you will catch them and you will help them…..and if they can’t tell you, they need to know that they can always tell Childline….

Hello strangers!

Well, its been a long, long time since I wrote a blog post on here. I toyed with deleting the blog page as I don’t tend to post, but have decided against that idea.

The reason for my silence is that since my last blog I have been working pretty much full time at the Royal School for the Deaf in Derby. My time there is now coming to an end, as I was on a fixed term contract but I have learned so much – in particular about S.E.N. students and just how risky the internet can be for these students (across the Country, not just at my school!) and what we can do to safeguard them better.

I had the joy of us achieving the 360 ‘Esafety Mark’ – the first school in Derby / Derbyshire and the first Deaf School in the Country to achieve this, and have worked with my team to improve policy and procedure and improve standards across the school and residential provision. It has been a wonderful adventure and learning experience but (very sadly) it is time to move on.

I am now looking at the new and improved Keeping Children Safe in Education guidelines for September and am so pleased to see that they include reference to online safeguarding training – about time too!

I will be rolling out training at selected venues throughout the East Midlands and North West which will enable schools to meet their statutory obligations in this area. If you are interested please do get in touch.

I am also excited to be partnering with Alan Mackenzie – the Esafety Advisor, on an innovative project. More details to follow…..

Its good to be back!

Traci 🙂

Coming up for breath!

WOW! September has been so very busy I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz – the bit when he house takes off and then when it lands there is a lovely peacefulness and a moment to collect your thoughts before you set off on your next adventure!

September has seen a real surge in training and I have had the benefit of working with some really forward thinking schools. I believe Derbyshire will soon see its first 360 Safe school, thanks to the dedication of staff, students and parents who are taking online safety seriously and really pushing the safer internet message.

5000 (yes five THOUSAND!) Bristol College students benefitted from a ‘Sexting and Revenge Porn’ micro session where we focussed on the legal aspects on posting and sharing indecent images, lots of information was shared and new stuff was learned by a significant majority of students – winner winner!

I have completed many, many sessions with Newly Qualified Teachers, Governors, Staff and Parents and this is set to continue up until the New Year.

September also saw me being asked to become a Course Facilitator for EPICT – this is amazing news and means I can now coach staff who wish to gain an Internationally recognised qualification for Online Safety. I plan to put more information about this on my website soon!

I would love to ramble away about all the other things I am doing, But I have some important meetings to prepare for – excellent never stops (or so Ian Thomas tells me!)

Onwards and upwards 🙂

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.