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.
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