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 musical.ly 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.