In the lead up to the launch of the new Netsafe Kit, Education Advisor Pauline Spence writes about self-service tools and why there’s no ‘one size fits all’ for schools improving online safety.

As a kid growing up back in the 80s (ok, the 70s), life was pretty sweet.  Friday night fish and chips and the odd walk to the dairy for a ‘50c mix’.  On special occasions (ok, so fairly regularly) we had ice cream for dinner, but the opportunity for sprinkles and flakes didn’t come around often, and as we all had such different tastes, I am sure my Mum would have struggled to keep us all happy.  It wasn’t until I ventured to Hawaii on a school choir trip in 1992, that I discovered the wonder that is the “self-serve” dessert bar.  I could pick the toppings and sprinkles I liked and put them together however I wanted.  My life was complete.

Providing a one-size fits all solution for schools when it comes to developing online safety and digital citizenship in schools is similar to ice cream flavours and toppings – what suits one school, isn’t going to satisfy the tastes of another.

And as we all know, no two schools are the same.  After 20+ years in education, both as a teacher and an advisor, I have been in a fair few schools.  During a recent stint as a reliever, I was amazed at the incredible diversity between all the schools I worked in.

No two have the same approach to behaviour, the same leadership structure, the same make up of their wider school community.  Some are filled to the brim with enthusiastic BTs and others are being held together by the experience and expertise of the ‘old guard’. Some schools have embraced flexible learning environments and others are hanging on to more traditional learning spaces.

No two schools have the same approach to the use of digital technologies for learning either – some have embraced BYOD, others provide one to one, school owned devices, while others have opted for a slowly, slowly approach as they get their heads around what all this means for their school.  Some have the school website that hasn’t been updated for a few years, while others have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and blogs.  There’s no right or wrong approach and there’s no silver bullet for “what’s best”.

Bearing this in mind and knowing that schools need to be able to pick and choose what best suits their current situation and needs, the Netsafe Kit encourages flexibility for schools.  At the core of a school’s approach are fundamental concepts and “must haves” (the ice cream), but what a school chooses for its toppings and how it chooses to put them all together, is up to each individual school.

Sometimes as educators we want a few ideas and then the freedom to develop and create bespoke programmes and structures for our schools.  Other times we just want someone to come in and show us what it looks like and how to do it.

Netsafe and the Netsafe Kit offer and support both approaches – the ideas, tools and resources for schools to pick up and run with, and also an enthusiastic team of passionate people who can show you the who, where, why, what and how.

The new Netsafe Kit for Schools will launch in June 2018. Sign up to be the first to know about the new Kit and for the latest tips about online safety for schools.