The Childnet Digital Leaders Programme is to launch in September 2015 and wants to train and support young people to “champion digital citizenship and digital creativity within their schools”.
Ofsted states that “outstanding” e-safety practice should involve the active participation and leadership of young people, but Childnet says that this aspect is still one of the weakest areas of e-safety provision in schools.
The charity’s programme was piloted last year and the results show that 70 per cent of pupils who took part in e-safety sessions with their school’s young digital leaders said they would now be more careful about what they share online. The programme, which is supported by Facebook and the European Union, will offer young people access to an online community where they can receive training and support from a Childnet team of experts and recognition of their progress and achievements.
Mhairi Hill, e-safety coordinator at Ballyclare High School in Northern Ireland, one of the pilot schools, said they had seen a “wide-ranging impact”.
She continued: “The digital leaders have helped to increase awareness about e-safety by delivering a peer-education session that reached all 187 of our year 9.
“The young leaders also held a social media workshop for parents, created wall displays and produced a video encouraging their peers to ‘Make the Right Choice Online’, which has been displayed on screens around school.
“As a result, the digital leaders have become champions and role-models for the safe use of technology at Ballyclare High School.
“Pupil voice has been a powerful tool in shaping our set of e-safety-related policies, and has helped to create an ethos of positive technology use in school.”
Childnet CEO, Will Gardner, added: “We have been piloting this programme over the last year, with support from Facebook, and the impact of the programme is clear – from safer online behaviours of pupils to improved e-safety policies.”
Schools can find out more and register at www.childnet.com/digital-leaders