Health & Wellbeing Archives - Page 11 of 12 - Education Matters Magazine

Top tips for staying safe online

AVG (AU/NZ) explains how the school community can work together – to protect one another.

Technology provides us with that ability to connect with each other seamlessly across the globe like never before, and yet, with all these advancements we still continue to face the very real dangers of escalating cyber crime, privacy breaches, and other important issues like cyber bullying and harassment.

It is important that teachers, parents and students all work together as a community to ensure they keep each other safe, and this can be achieved through open and honest communication and discussion, common sense tips and tricks, as well as implementing appropriate security technologies.

“It can sometimes be difficult to quantify the real dangers that are present, but start by asking friends if they’ve had a computer infected by malware, or if they’ve ever been the target of cyber bullying, and you might just be surprised how wide spread these things are”, says Michael McKinnon, Security Advisor at AVG (AU/NZ).

“Staying safe online is not as hard as most people think, and often relies on good old fashioned common sense, and the willingness to improve for the sake of those around us that we care for”, McKinnon added. “Taking responsibility is vital, and these are some simple guidelines to follow.”

  • Upgrade old computers, and keep them up to date. As computer operating systems mature they inherently become more secure through regular updates, but it is also necessary every few years to upgrade to the latest versions as well – for example, if you’re still using Windows XP it’s time to upgrade! It is also important to ensure that you have automatic updates enabled at all times.
  • Install Internet Security software and keep it up-to-date. Anti-Virus solutions provide good basic protection against viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware and adware. However, to keep your school and students safe online today you really need the additional layers of protection provided by an Internet Security software suite, like AVG Internet Security.
  • Teach students how to set strong passwords, and keep them private. This is especially needed on social networking web sites like Facebook. Also make sure they know how to properly set the privacy information on social networking sites so that their personal information can only be seen by those they trust and give permission to see it. A recent New York Times survey found that up to a third of teenagers will share their passwords with close friends, so it is important to address this issue as well.
  • Never use a computer with the “Administrator” account privilege. Affecting mostly people using older and insecure operating systems (like Windows XP), up to 90% of all security vulnerabilities can be mitigated against simply by setting up regular user account with a strong password for normal daily use – thus eliminating the need to have administrator rights. Access the administrator account only on those rare instances when you may need to install software or change system settings. Make sure all school computers are set up this way, and educate parents and students about this simple measure.
  • Teach everyone to stop and think before they click. Through social media and other sites, we share information at a rapid pace, and so we’re confronted with links to websites and files all the time. Be sure that you understand how to “roll over” a link to view the real destination first, and please make sure you have good web scanning software, like the free AVG LinkScanner® for Windows and Mac computers. It will do a real-time check for any malware payloads that may be lurking on the web page.
  • Don’t forget to secure mobile devices, like phones and tablets. Computing no longer happens only at desks or in the office or classroom; it happens on public transport and in busy cafes. Mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets these days are as fast as computer were 5 – 8 years ago – we are all walking around with computers in our pockets! These need to be protected, so ensure you enable PIN number locks, activate phone tracking features (like “Find my iPhone” for iPhone, or AVG Mobilation for Android) for lost or stolen devices, as well as security scanning software.

Just remember that by discussing and implementing some of these guidelines with your school community, you’ll be helping to raise awareness and combat some of the challenges facing all of us that benefit so greatly from modern technology. At AVG we’re all about protecting our community of users, and we help schools with discounts of up to 50% on our award winning protection software – backed up with expert technical support from the AVG (AU/NZ) team based in Melbourne.

Want to help your school’s students, parents and/or teachers to learn more about today’s online threats and how to stay safe online? Then have Michael McKinnon, Security Advisor for AVG (AU/NZ) come and speak at your school.

See  http://www.avg.com.au/security-advisor/ for details

Mental health key concern for kids

Kids Helpline statistics reveal that mental health-related issues now account for two-in-five counselling sessions.

Kids Helpline General Manager Wendy Protheroe said, according to the national counselling service’s Annual Overview into the concerns of young Australians, counselling sessions had increased by four per cent, rising to 53,111 sessions during 2009.

“Disturbingly, of those 145 counselling sessions each day, 57 are about mental health-related concerns, such as diagnosed mental illnesses, habitual or problematic drug use, continued disordered eating behaviours, self-injury and suicidal thoughts,” she said.

“That means every 10 minutes our counsellors are speaking with children and young people who are in distress and require counselling and every 25 minutes these counselling sessions relate to mental health concerns.

“Kids Helpline is now a significant provider of mental health services for children and young people across Australia and we are often the only option the young have for support, particularly after hours or in regional and remote communities.”

Mental health-related issues are also the main concern for young people who contact Kids Helpline online.

“More than 40 per cent of all online counselling sessions during 2009 had to do with mental health-related concerns, representing the top reasons for contacting counsellors online,” Protheroe said.

“Increasingly, more young people want to speak about serious and complex concerns like mental health online rather than on the phone.

“This form of counselling takes more than twice as long as phone counselling and our ability to respond is capped as we simply do not have the funding available to extend the hours.

“Web counselling is not available 24 hours a day; we open the service for 50 hours each week.”

Kids Helpline is increasingly involved with ongoing or case managed clients, usually regarding mental health issues.

“We have become a vital part of youth mental health services in this country, frequently working with the young person’s general practitioners or psychologists to have a safety plan in place. But who responds to that young person at night time, when most of the health clinics are closed? Kids Helpline does.”

Protheroe stressed that the statistics aren’t all doom and gloom.

“Hopefully what we are seeing is that this generation is willing to reach out for help and talk about their concerns,” she said.

“Being there at the end of the phone, email or web-chat session really does mean that we can save young lives.”

Kids Helpline opened as a service of BoysTown in 1991 to provide a free confidential support and counselling service to children and young people in Australia.

“Since opening, Kids Helpline has helped more than 5.5 million young people work through many different challenges,” Protheroe said.

“We recognise that while many young people have great parents, teachers and other adults who offer help and support, there are times when this is not the case.

“Kids Helpline assists young people to work on issues and empowers them to work through these with the help of their parents, teachers, friends and other support services.”

While Kids Helpline started out as a service for children and young people aged five to 18, the service now extends to young people aged five to 25 years.

Counselling is provided via the phone, web and email by tertiary qualified, paid professionals who undergo additional accredited training at Kids Helpline.

Young people like Lucy

Thirteen year-old Lucy* had been contacting Kids Helpline about ongoing family relationship conflict, friendship breakdowns, bullying and her difficulties in understanding and managing her emotions. Lucy had a very negative image of herself, experienced suicidal thoughts and was engaging in self-harming behaviour.

Through counselling sessions that would often focus on Lucy talking about her feelings and emotions in detail and the impact these have on her and her view of self, and with her counsellors validating her experiences, Lucy has been able to decrease her self-harming behaviour. Recognising that she does want to live, together they have collaboratively developed a safety plan to utilise when she is having suicidal thoughts. With her counsellors’ ongoing support, Lucy is increasingly recognising her internal strengths and resources and developing plans for an exciting future.

*Name changed for privacy

New online safety resource from Cybersmart

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released Cybersmart Networking – a new online safety resource for students aged 12 to 14 years.

Cybersmart Networking uses a realistic online environment to teach young people how to stay safe on social networking sites, without exposing them to real risks.

Using the message ‘Private Lives in Public Spaces’, Cybersmart Networking teaches children about social networking in a protected environment.

Cybersmart Networking has been tailored to provide new social networking users, and those who will shortly be venturing onto this space, with real experience of the potential issues and how to manage them,” said Sharon Trotter, Manager of Cybersmart Programs.

Students work online and in real time to solve an internet-based problem from the safety of their school. Cybersafety experts including police, education, government and child welfare advocates, New online safety resource from Cybersmart act as guides to help students navigate through the scenario.

The activity is part of the ACMA’s suite of Interactive Shared Learning activities that are designed to educate and empower students so that they can manage cybersafety issues, discover what information is safe for them to post online, and negotiate the balance between their private and public online lives.

The 50-minute activity is provided free of charge to schools across Australia. It is accompanied by comprehensive lesson plans reinforcing the learnings from the activity itself, and instructions for students and teachers.

Thirty-thousand students nationwide have already participated in Cybersmart’s online Interactive Shared Learning activities. Cybersmart Networking has been tailored to provide new social networking users with real experience of what can go wrong and how they can stay safe. It complements Cybersmart Detectives, which addresses online grooming and protecting personal information, and Cybersmart Hero, which addresses cyberbullying.

Sign up your school to participate in Cybersmart Networking by completing the online form.

Schools wishing to participate in upcoming events can email  isl@acma.gov.au or register your school at: www.cybersmart.gov.au

How to stay healthy and happy

Long hours, high stress levels and sky-high piles of paperwork. There’s no denying that teaching is a pressurised job. So how can you stay fit, healthy and happy through term-time and during your leisure hours? Charmaine Yabsley finds out.

Teaching is supposedly an easy career. Short school hours, weeks of holidays in which to relax, what’s not to love? However, according to a study from Deakin University, teaching is one of the more stressful professions of all. Forty-one per cent of teachers report high levels of occupational stress compared with 31 per cent of people in nursing, 29 per cent in managerial jobs and 27 per cent in professional and support management occupations.

There are ways though to help reduce your stress levels. The first port of call is taking care of your health and wellbeing – eating well, exercising regularly, and ensuring regular time out to recharge your batteries, will go a long to reducing your body and mind’s negative response to work pressure.

Look after your body

“It’s very easy to put exercise on the backburner when you’re stressed and busy,” says personal trainer Chris Van Hoof ( www.chisel-fitness.com.au). “However, exercise should be your first option when you’re feeling tired or under pressure.”

Research by the American Psychological Association found that exercise may improve mental health by helping the brain cope better with stress. The researchers believe that it may be that exercising makes your body practise being stressed; it forces the body’s physiological systems – all of which are involved in the stress response – to communicate much more closely than usual.

Fitting in exercise is all about finding the time that’s best for you. “For many teachers, the end of the day is usually when you need a burst of energy,” says Van Hoof. “As you’re continually giving your energy to students and colleagues throughout the day, it can lead you feeling flat and tired.” Van Hoof suggests that a walk is the best way to unwind, or get into some sort or routine. “Your job requires routine, so adding in exercise time is second-nature to you. Either a walk, or a relaxation class, is a good way to rejuvenate you. Especially during deadlines and longer terms – making sure you have some time for yourself, preferably outdoors, to keep the stress at bay.”

And don’t forget to make the most of your holiday times. “Go on an activity holiday to make the most of your free time – or take up surfing, windsurfing, skiing, anything that gives you a change of scene, mentally and physically.”

If your finances don’t run to an activity holiday, then take advantage of your free time by joining in council-run activities (which are usually free or charge a minimal amount), meet up with friends for a walk or run or try a new activity such as rock-climbing, paddle boarding or yoga. Daytime classes are usually cheaper than evening ones and less crowded too.

Stay safe and healthy online

With the increasing number of teenagers online, not to mention the amount of hours adults personally spend posting, updating or commenting (around seven hours a day), it’s important that, as a teacher, your online presence need to be monitored. Recently, the Victorian State Government released guidelines designed to help protect teacher’s reputations online.

“That boundary between being a teacher and a friend is one which teachers have to sometimes tread very carefully,” Minister for the Teaching Profession, Peter Hall, said. “It’s important to provide parents with the confidence that their teachers have the knowledge available for them to do their job well.”

The following guidelines have been launched to help direct teachers in the correct behaviour when it comes to online conduct:

Teachers are cautioned against –

  • Contacting students by mobile phone or email, “without a valid educational context”.
  • Posting any “offensive or slanderous” material about students, parents or colleagues.
  • Sharing content from personal social media sites, such as their Facebook accounts, with students.
  • Uploading images of themselves that have “potential to negatively affect their reputation”.
  • “Venting” about their work, or posting personal or political opinions.

Mind: mental health, stress management

According to a report from the University of Queensland, teaching ranks as one of the top five most stressful professions, alongside cardiac surgeons and flight traffic controllers. “It’s dangerous to generalise,” says Professor Steve Dinham, Research Director of the Teaching, Learning and Leadership research program at the Australian Council for Educational Research. “Most teachers say that their job, the core business of teaching, is satisfying. However, what we have found is an increase in factors outside a teacher’s control – imposed change, societal criticism, greater expectation, role conflict and ambiguity – which are causing stress and a larger workload for teachers.” He says that teachers are now expected to not just teach the basics, but at the same time, are meant to remedy the problems of society.

The main cause of stress for teachers is the extension of their typical role. “Issues which would have been handed by the church, family, village or town, there’s no longer that structure and it’s given to schools to pick up those roles,” he says. “The role of a teacher has become much more complex and subject to scrutiny than we’ve seen in the past.”

Because you’re dealing with people and people’s problems, “then it’s hard to switch off”, agrees Dr Dinham. “Self-advocacy is very important. Keeping track in how you feel about your job, and how you’re coping is important.” Each school does have professionals in place to deal with personnel issues, “although the waiting list can deter people seeking help,” he says.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, seek help through the professional channels at your school, or a personal psychologist. For access to private psychologists in your area, contact the APS Find a Psychologist Service on the toll free number 1800 333 497 or www.findapsychologist.org.au.

Victoria Kasunic, clinical psychologist, suggests the following tips to help you deal with stress:

  • Allocate time to relax each day.
  • Don’t take your work into the bedroom, and keep your schoolwork at school.
  • Speak to your colleagues if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
  • Seek professional help if you are suffering from insomnia, feelings of depression, lack of motivation or wishing to withdraw from socialising.
  • Daily exercise will help with stress, as will a healthy, balanced diet.

Feed your mind, without blowing the budget

“As a teacher, you spend a long time on your feet,” says Emily Houlahan, Accredited Practising Dietitian. “So you need to follow an eating plan which gives you constant energy throughout the day.” To work out what you need to eat it’s important to understand the role certain foods have when it comes to energy. To put it simply, our bodies get energy from carbohydrates. But not all carbs are created equal. “Low- GI [glycaemic index] carbohydrates are the best to help sustain your energy levels and help you get throughout the day,” says Houlahan. “GI is the rate at which carbs are absorbed: low-GI foods are absorbed slowly and so your body won’t experience great highs or lows. An easy way to find out if the food you’re eating is low-GI is whether or not it’s close to its natural state.” Some ideal, minimally processed foods, which are low-GI include: fruit, vegetables, grainy bread – where you can see the seeds and grain, pasta, beans, lentils, milk and yoghurt.

Your ideal eating day

Breakfast

“Try porridge, muesli or eggs on grainy toast,” says Houlahan. Snack “At morning tea, it’s important to have a snack to help recharge your energy levels. An apple or a banana is a good choice, or a tub of yoghurt, especially Greek yoghurt which is high in protein.

Lunch

A simple sandwich is sufficient to ensure you’re getting some carbs, or enjoy leftovers from the night before.”

Afternoon snack

To help reduce the dreaded afternoon slump, “it’s good to have something around the 3.30 or 4.30pm time period which will tide you over until dinner time,” she says. Try cheese on wholegrain crackers, a piece of fruit, yoghurt or nuts (if you’re outside the school). “If you’re busy and stressed throughout the day there’s a risk of leaving your food choices until dinner when you’ll undoubtedly overeat. Which isn’t so great for waistline, or for eating a varied, balanced diet.”

Dinner

Your evening meal is a good chance to not only balance out your day’s eating, but also save some money. “By cooking up batches of food you’ll save money on your lunches throughout the week,” says Houlahan. “Plus, you’ll be less tempted to buy something sugary or fatty, if you already have a healthy and nutritious lunch made for you,” she says. “Meat, chicken or fish are ideal for an evening meal, served with vegetables,” she says. “Soup is also a good option, as they’re cheap, they’ll fill you up and the taste will improve over the week. Another tasty, and inexpensive option is casseroles. Add some cheap meat cuts to some veg, and freeze the excess portion,” she says. “Eating healthily doesn’t have to cost a lot. Frozen veg are just as nutritious [as fresh] as they’re snap-frozen so they hold their nutrition. Don’t forget to add grains such as rice or quinoa, which are packed full of nutrients, really cheap, and are filling too.”

A matter of thirst

“Two litres of water a day is the recommended benchmark, so sip frequently throughout the day to keep hydrated,” she says. Remember that dehydration can lead to fatigue, which in turn can lead to overeating. Don’t shy away from a cup of coffee if you enjoy it. “Coffee is fine,” assures Houlahan. “As long as you don’t have more than three cups a day. Be aware that the kilojoules from the milk can add up over the course of a day, so you may be unknowingly eating more kjs.”

Spotlight on Cybersafety

eSmart Accreditation (Alannah & Madeline Foundation)

eSmart helps schools effectively manage cybersafety and deal with cyberbullying and bullying. The national roll out of eSmart to all Australian schools is under way, following the successful pilot in 2010.

The Telstra Foundation funding supported The Alannah and Madeline Foundation to work with RMIT University’s School of Education Consultancy and Development Unit to develop a framework schools could use to implement strategies for improving cyber-safety and wellbeing.Schools progressing through the framework would be ‘accredited’ for the cyber-safety practice.

Telstra Foundation funding assisted with the pre-development research, the work to write the framework, build the supporting eSmart website and run the intensive trial with 28 schools to test both the framework and the website. Late into the project, the Federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) saw the potential of eSmart and decided to invest $3 million to pilot eSmart in 150 schools around the country. In 2010, the the Victorian Government committed $10.6 million to roll out the program across more than 1,800 Victorian schools and 2011 the Queensland Government announced implementation of eSmart across Queensland schools.

Website: www.esmartschools.org.au and www.amf.org.au/eSmart

 http://www.amf.org.au/Assets/Files/eSmart_ SchoolsDL_web.pdf

Superclubsplus (Intuitive Media)

SuperClubsPLUS Australia is a fully moderated social learning network that teaches six to twelve year old children how to be safe online. While the website is both fun and educational, it also teaches children how to keep themselves safe online, with 95 per cent of kids on SuperClubsPLUS learning and practising ‘safe online’ behaviours no matter where they go on the internet. Students can upload media, publish articles, build personalised web pages, run their own clubs, complete projects, join discussion forums, chat with friends, and participate in ‘Hot Seats’.

In 2010 SuperClubsPLUS is partnered with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) so that all ‘superclubbers’ achieve their advanced ‘Super Cyber Smart Badge’ and Certificate, and become fully accredited by ACMA.

Telstra Foundation’s commitment: $1,044,462 over two years to September 2010, with a further $498,052 to December 2011.

Website:  http://www.scplus.com

Project evaluation (2010): http:// www.scplus.com/d/sites/default/files/superclubsplus_eval-fullreport_v25_final.pdf

Developing Ethical Digital Citizens (Centacare Loddon Mallee Cyber Safety Project)

The Developing Ethical Digital Citizens project conducted by the Centacare Sandhurst Loddon Mallee Cyber Safety Project surveyed students, teachers and parents to examine factors relating to cyber-safety. The data now assists schools and community groups to inform policies and practices.

The project recently conducted focus groups with senior students to explore the issue of internet pornography on adolescent relationships, and from their responses created the film “Impression that you get”. Student feedback has indicated that the film captures the culture that exists.

Telstra Foundation’s commitment: $270,000 over three years to December 2011.

Project overview and online version of final reports: www.cybersafekids.com. au/2011/05/welcome-to-the-loddon-malleecybersafety- project/

Cyber Friendly Parent’ Project (Edith Cowan University)

Part of a world-first study into cyber-bullying, the Cyber Friendly Parents’ Project highlights the need for a whole of community response to increasing cyber-safety and reducing cyber-bullying among young people.

Exhaustive research undertaken by the Edith Cowan University’s project team determined the most effective ways to engage parents to increase their own knowledge of cyber-safety and assist their child to prevent and respond to cyber-bullying. Research included a review of current cyber-bullying literature and resources, parent surveys and focus groups, and consultations with students, including two Cyber Friendly Student Summits. The resulting resource materials are underpinned by the research findings that a collaborative and coordinated response that is consistent between students, parents and school staff is key to success.

Parents involved in the project had access to a range of resources including a purpose-built website, www.cyberfriendly.com.au, to help them understand and engage with cyber-bullying issues. Materials included family newsletters explaining digital reputations, cyber-bullying, cyber-safety and the law, and the use of friends lists on social networking sites. A Family Quiz Activities booklet was also developed and used in conjunction with the website, which houses the latest research findings and articles regarding cyber-bullying and cyber-safety.

Parents also took part in student-led workshops that looked at forms of cyber-bullying, statistics and definitions for bullying and cyber-bullying, parent responses to cyber-bullying, preventative strategies, and how to communicate with young people about cyber-safety. The final step in the project has been to empirically test the suite of parent resources to assess their relevance and usefulness as a practical tool to assist in a whole of school approach to cyber-bullying prevention. The findings will help drive the broader Cyber Friendly Schools Project, which is currently underway.

Telstra Foundation’s commitment: $341,000 over three years to December 2011.

Website: www.cyberfriendly.com.au

Cyber Friendly Schools Project (PEET) evaluation report: http://chpru.ecu.edu.au/ assets/documents/Cyber-Friendly-Schools- Project-(PEET)-Final-Report-May-2010.pdf

Smart Online Safe Offline – SOSO (Napcan)

The Smart Online Safe Offline (SOSO) program’s website and resources are successfully educating children aged nine to 14 about the dangers of disclosing too much personal information on social networking websites and how to counteract online ‘grooming’. The National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect’s program also provides cyber- safety education and support to parents, teachers and the community.

SOSO is a unique social initiative that brings together community, government and the digital media industry as partners to deliver online campaigns.

Telstra Foundation’s commitment: $534,000 over three years to December 2011.

Website: www.soso.org.au

Technology Roundtable (Inspire Foundation)

Co-chaired by the Telstra Foundation and the Inspire Foundation, the Technology and Wellbeing Roundtable brings together over a dozen key influencers in academic, corporate, non-profit and government sectors across Australia.

Established in 2008, the roundtable presents a unique forum to discuss, investigate and promote evidence-based and best practice approaches to young people’s engagement with technology. Participants also advocate for increased access for young people to the resources, social supports and learning opportunities delivered through technology.

A recent survey revealed that participation in the roundtable has opened up and strengthened sector networks. In all, eight of the 15 core members reported that their participation had led to partnerships with fellow member organisations.

Greater access to current research and best practice approaches to delivering programs has also been experienced. Additionally, through Roundtable meetings and informal networking opportunities, the roundtable has opened new communication channels between sectors, for example the Australian Research Council funded Project Young People, Technology, and Wellbeing Research Facility led by the University of Western Sydney and the recently established Cooperative Research Centre for Young People, Technology and Wellbeing.

Telstra Foundation commitment: $145,000 over one year to December 2010.

Website: www.inspire.org.au

Benetwise (Berry Street)

Berry Street’s BeNetWise program supports a proactive approach by welfare agencies in addressing the digital divide experienced by the children and young people in the out-of-home care and alternative education sectors who have a lack of access to digital technology.

Extensive consultation and research around digital technology and cyber-safety has given Berry Street a significant knowledge base to share with staff, carers and educators, as well as young people themselves.

Telstra Foundation’s commitment: $206,750 over one year to December 2011.

Website:  www.berrystreet.org.au/BeNetWise

Websmarts Project (Student Youth Network)

SYN’s websmarts project has explored how increased digital literacy and media education can assist young people in navigating the online world. Findings highlighted the need for young people to be actively engaged in new media channels and to be allowed to facilitate a flexible discussion around issues that young people can identify with. As part of the project, SYN also produced a series of online resources focusing on social networking; online legal issues, online communities and internet crime that were broadcast on radio and television and made available online.

Telstra Foundation’s commitment: $80,000 over two years to December 2010.
Website:  http://syn.org.au/program/websmarts

Sustaining Cybersafety in Schools

One of the most challenging aspects of implementing and sustaining any whole-school program is changes in staff personnel and responsibilities, especially at the start of a new school year. The anti-bullying coordinator who is now a head of department and struggling to find the time; the eLearning leader who is now part time; or perhaps, the deputy principal who was amongst other things: head of curriculum, coach of the first XI cricket team and an enthusiastic and active advocate for the new visual arts program…is now employed as a principal at another school.

Cybersafety and digital citizenship programs are no different – they require a whole-school approach that needs to be regularly re-assessed and updated, as well as have the ongoing support from staff, students and parents.

The Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s eSmart Schools Framework (the Framework) guides schools through the key actions for creating and sustaining a positive school culture, that works to reduce bullying and cyberbullying, and promote the smart, safe and responsible use of digital technologies.

The Framework is made up of six domains, none more important than Domain 1: Effective school organisation.

Term one is a good time to ensure a school’s cybersafety program still has an effective organisational structure, and that the program is functioning properly with the buy-in from key staff and community members responsible for its success.

While this domain can be a starting place for the journey to establishing a cyber-safe school, setting up committees, defining roles and responsibilities, it is just as important to regularly re-visit this starting place, no matter how advanced a school’s cybersafety initiatives. Situations change, and the dynamism and forward-thinking that once existed in the program may have faded, or the governance may have become dysfunctional.

From the Planning stage right through to the Sustaining stage, the eSmart Schools Framework prompts staff to regularly review their wellbeing and cybersafety programs.

A comprehensive suite of guiding questions, resources, practical tools and advice assists the eSmart Committee through each stage of the eSmart journey. Recognising the eSmart Committee as the key driving force, the Framework assists the committee to reflect on its practices and methods, and provides evidence-based resources for doing so.

In its very design, the Framework acknowledges that sustaining the success of a whole-school program is not a simple matter, and that a roadmap and support is of great benefit to school leadership teams.

This roadmap and comprehensive support within the Framework carries through all six domains, from Effective school organisation (Domain 1) and School plans, policies and procedures (Domain 2), to Partnerships with parents and the local community (Domain 6).

All whole-school programs require ongoing review and maintenance, regardless of how well planned or implemented they originally were. A key factor in the ongoing success of a whole-school cybersafety program, like eSmart Schools, is its organisational structure. Who is actually driving the initiatives? How are they being carried out? Does the rest of the school community feel connected to the aims of the program and prioritise and support them?

The start of the new school year brings with it changes in staff and their responsibilities, new students and parents, and a vision for the year ahead. Including cybersafety and digital citizenship as part of this ongoing vision will ensure a school community prioritises wellbeing and the smart, safe and responsible use of digital technologies.

Further information:

Developed for Australian schools, eSmart Schools is a behaviour-change system to help schools to improve cybersafety and deal with cyberbullying and bullying.

Registering your school can provide you and your school community with assurance that you are accessing evidence-informed practice, policies, resources and activities.

Visit the eSmart Schools website for further information and to register your school www.esmartschools.org.au