The Childnet Digital Leaders Programme is an innovative youth peer-to-peer online training platform. Launched in 2015, the programme has created opportunities for young people to become leaders in their school.
We are excited to have the opportunity to refresh our training platform. Digital Leaders have told us that they want a more interactive, customizable and visually appealing platform with more up-to-date features.
We have developed a brand-new platform that is fun, engaging and promotes online safety learning in an enjoyable and safe way. Features such as badges, points and modules completed are more easily accessible from the home page.
It also has new features such as a Team Leaderboard where Digital Leaders can compete with their classmates, a virtual companion who guides and encourages them through the learning content, unlockable customizable backgrounds and more.
The new platform will be more accessible for those with special educational needs, with plain background options and subtitles on every video.
Meeting the needs of young people
We have worked with our Digital Champions to ensure that we have attuned the platform to the needs of young people, and we thank them for all their hard work.
We think that the new Childnet Digital Leaders training platform gives young people the continued and improved opportunity to learn about online safety issues in an innovative and inspiring way – and is the right solution to empower and galvanise young people to be leaders in their school communities.
The new training platform will be launched in August 2021, in time for the new academic year. We have also redeveloped new, engaging learning content and this will be launched at the same time.
Digital Leaders already qualified will receive an exclusive ‘Legacy Digital Leader’ badge!
Moving over to the new platform
For schools whose subscriptions cross into the new academic year, you can choose whether you would like to move over to the new platform or continue using the current platform until the end of your current subscription. Please fill out this one-minute survey to let us know what you would like to do.
For schools that we do not hear from by Monday 16th August, they will be automatically migrated over to the new training platform during the summer break.
Did you join our live webinar, showcasing concepts of the new platform for teachers currently subscribed or those interested in hearing more about the Digital Leaders Programme? Click below to watch the webinar recording in full.
If you have any questions about the programme or the new developments, please contact us at [email protected]
Learning how to stay safe online has never been more important.
To support schools in teaching children the importance of online safety, Childnet has devised its innovative Digital Leaders Programme, which empowers pupils to educate their peers about safe internet use.
The programme is benefiting hundreds of schools across the UK and the Digital Leaders 2020 Impact Report showed:
– 100% of teachers said the programme prepares young people to be peer educators
– 95% of teachers said the programme has impacted on a whole-school level
– 86% of teachers would recommend the programme to another school
– 81% of teachers said the programme has helped their school staff fulfil their safeguarding duties
Here, Danielle Antha, Childnet Digital Leaders Programme Manager, outlines how the initiative works and the benefits for pupils, teachers and whole schools…
What benefits can the Digital Leaders Programme bring to your school?
The Childnet Digital Leaders Programme is an innovative and engaging way to bring online safety education to your school or educational setting.
Staff feel empowered to teach relevant online safety issues with the support of our online training platform and receive step-by-step guides and lesson plans from the Childnet Digital Leaders team. The peer leadership element helps to develop online safety education via a whole-school approach.
As part of our international Digital Leaders community, settings can network with other likeminded settings to share good practice, tips and ideas. Schools have also reported:
– A reduction of online safeguarding incidents
– Pupils increasing in wellbeing as a result of taking part
– The ethos of the school has improved to promote kindness and respect both online and offline
Teachers report enjoying participating in the programme and how easily the programme fits in with the timetable. The programme can also help to showcase how your school’s online safety practice is youth-led as evidence for Ofsted reporting.
How will it benefit your pupils?
Pupils benefit from having access to our online training platform, and access learning developed by Childnet’s online safety experts. The expert knowledge they will receive will help them to increase their competencies in approaching online safety risks and enable them to engage in safer online behaviours.
After the core modules are completed, Digital Leaders will take the lead in delivering online safety activities in their school or setting. This helps young people to develop team working skills and helps them to feel empowered and confident.
Online safety is for absolutely everyone, so it’s a great opportunity to give those young people who may not be recognised in other areas, such as academia, sports or the arts, a platform to shine in their school communities.
There are other additional opportunities that might be extended to Digital Leaders as well.
These include regional events for your team to receive exclusive training from the Childnet team and to meet and work with Digital Leaders from other schools, participation in the yearly Safer Internet Day campaign, helping to develop new learning content, participating in consultation surveys (such as the recent Online Harms White Paper consultation) and receiving a visit from the Childnet team to hear about your progress.
How does the programme work?
Schools recruit their team of around 8-12 Digital Leaders and they are uploaded to the online training platform by the Childnet team. There are separate platforms for primary and secondary schools with age-appropriate learning content.
Digital Leaders meet to work though the core modules, each covering a different aspect of online safety. The primary learning modules are designed to be completed with a teacher running the session.
The secondary learning modules are designed to be completed more independently and meet with their teams to discuss what they have learnt and how they will share learning with others. We recommend meeting once a week.
Once the core modules are completed, they officially qualify as ‘Childnet Digital Leaders’ and receive their official certificate and pin badge from Childnet through the post.
They go on to share their learning with other students by leading online safety activities at their setting.
Activities may consist of leading whole-school assemblies, running sessions in other classes, making a poster for display, creating a survey or running a campaign – we encourage settings to be as creative as they like!
There are additional activities on the training platform such as our Community, where Digital Leaders from different schools can discuss online safety issues and support each other, along with our Industry Q&A videos and opportunities to find out about (and maybe apply to) our Digital Champions group.
Is it suitable and relevant to all ages of pupils?
The primary and secondary learning content has been developed with Key Stages 2 and 3 in mind respectively. However, we have Digital Leaders as old as 18 and as young as six!
Digital Leaders just need to have a passion for the subject, although they do need to have a certain level of literacy in order to make their way through the modules.
Childnet Digital Leaders is a youth leadership training programme which empowers young people to educate their peers about online safety.
Groups of Digital Leaders complete training on an interactive, informative, and fun gamified platform. They work through online modules, equipping them with the skills they need to educate and support their peers.
The Digital Leaders Programme isn’t ‘only’ about online safety – 95% of teachers asked said the programme has impacted on a whole-school level. And the Digital Leaders themselves agree, with 84% feeling they can ‘make a difference’ in their school.
“There has been a greater awareness of online safety around school and there is a feeling that everyone is involved,” commented one Digital Leader teacher.
There are individual benefits for the pupils too – with 100% of teachers saying that the programme prepares young people to be peer educators, while almost eight in ten teachers said Digital Leaders have improved wellbeing.
It enhances online safety
The core aim of the Digital Leaders programme is to help young people stay safe online – and it certainly does that, with 100% of Digital Leaders saying the training made them more knowledgeable about online safety.
Almost nine in ten Digital Leaders said the training covered the key issues faced by young people online, while 81% of teachers noticed safer online behaviours from young people due to the programme.
It helps schools fulfil safeguarding duties
“The programme has an impact on the students… they have matured and are in a stronger position to peer lead. Being part of the programme has enhanced our safeguarding ethos,” said a Digital Leader teacher.
Meeting safeguarding requirements is vital for all schools, and once again Digital Leaders can contribute to this, with 81% of teachers saying the programme has helped their school staff fulfil safeguarding duties.
It increases pupils’ confidence
We know wellbeing can be positively impacted by the programme, but so to can confidence levels – 93% of Digital Leaders said the training made them feel more confident about educating pupils in their school. Meanwhile, 83% of teachers said Digital Leaders are more confident due to the programme.
“I enjoy the Digital Leaders Programme because I would really like to help make a change to young people’s lives,” remarked one secondary school Digital Leader.
It can even help to educate parents
The benefits of the Digital Leaders programme extend beyond the school gates – and back to pupils’ homes. An impressive 98% of Digital Leaders said they can help parents understand the issues young people face online.
Interestingly, 94% of Digital Leaders also said young people should have a say about how internet safety is taught in their school.
“Being a Digital Champion has been such an amazing lesson in how to handle responsibility and organisational pressures,” said Bella, a Childnet Digital Champion.
Cosima helped to increase awareness by taking part in a range of media interviews, ensuring young people’s voices were at the heart of Safer Internet Day 2021…
Hi Cosima – did you enjoy being part of Safer Internet Day?
It was genuinely one of my favourite things I’ve done as a Digital Champion. I enjoyed everything that I got to do, from panel-prep meetings to the interviews to the live event. But my favourite experience this year was actually the last. The BBC Coventry interview was just the best thing to end it on. The radio host, Trish Adudu was so great! And the fact that it was live almost made it less daunting as once something was said I couldn’t go back and change it!
Why is Safer Internet Day important?
The event brings awareness and much needed attention to the issues young people are facing in the online world. But rather than focusing solely on the negative aspects or dangers of the internet, it draws the eye towards the ways both young people themselves and those in the industry can make social media and the internet a better environment for us all. Safer Internet Day brings a voice to young people, allowing them to be heard by the general public and those involved in the media about their wants and needs. I felt so lucky to have been one of those voices this year. Especially during a time where there is such a big increase in online usage and therefore misinformation, etc.
How did it feel to play a part in promoting Safer Internet Day?
It felt rather wonderful to be involved in spreading awareness about such an important event that benefits so many young people. Now more than ever, internet safety is such a relevant topic because everyone has had to be at home for so long and depend on the online world for their social interaction, school, work, etc. Because of this, we have all been online so much more, and therefore we’re all being exposed to far more misinformation and fake news than ever before. Especially with Covid, we’re constantly seeing articles and developments being published throughout the media and then, as they are processed through social media, it’s almost like a game of the whispering game in that as each person retells the information it gets altered and slightly more inaccurate. So, this year, being able to promote that message of being aware of misinformation online and getting to talk about how to approach this kind of thing – whether you’re a child experiencing it or an adult trying to prepare young people for facing it – was a really great feeling.
How has the Digital Leaders programme helped promote online safety at your school?
The Digital Leaders programme enabled us as a school to become much more aware and safe on the internet. Our Digital Leaders have run countless assemblies, lessons and events based around being safe and secure in the online world. We’ve covered all kinds of topics across all the year groups, from basic eSafety, to being aware of our digital footprints to identifying and properly approaching misinformation online as well as so much more. I’d say that traditionally as a subject, online safety can be overlooked or not stressed enough to young people in schools. That’s not to say that they don’t try or that they are purposefully ignoring it, but our generation has grown up with the internet and technology and so most of the time it’s the students who know or think they know more. When it’s young people advising young people – it tends to resonate a lot better. In light of that, our Digital Leaders ran workshops during computer science lessons, using resources from Childnet as well as real life examples in an attempt to better educate everyone. I’d say that is where the programme has had the biggest impact in my school – from the training we had done, combined with our own personal experience, we really got through to everyone.
Aimee, did you enjoy being part of Safer Internet Day?
I really enjoyed it because, despite it being online, I was still able to be a part of some amazing events and talk to so many people who I wouldn’t usually speak to, such as news reporters and radio stations, about the importance of Safer Internet Day. My highlights were speaking to ITV and BBC Radio Scotland as I have never done something like that before, so it was a completely new experience.
Why is Safer Internet Day important?
I think it’s extremely important as we do need to keep the conversation going on how to keep kids safe online. Although the internet has many benefits, it can still be quite a dangerous place and Safer Internet Day is the perfect time to address these problems and teach parents, teachers and children how to stay safe in the constantly changing environment of the internet.
How did it feel to help promote the day?
I felt great! It felt like I was doing my part in something big and working with people as a community to try and make a positive change in the world.
How has the Digital Leaders programme helped your school?
It has allowed us to do a lot of the teaching, so the children feel that it’s more relatable as we are around the same age. Students feel more comfortable speaking about their experiences online with us and they listen more to what we are teaching them as they find it more relatable. Overall, it’s been a success!
Safer Internet Day 2021 was celebrated on Tuesday 9th February and young people across the country took part in activities to celebrate positive use of the internet. The day was also an opportunity for young people to raise awareness and have conversations about their online lives.
This year’s theme and accompanying research focused on ‘An internet we trust: exploring reliability in the online world’.
Thank you to Digital Leaders Taybah and Fleur from Bonner Primary School, who created a film to share how they celebrated Safer Internet Day 2021. We are so impressed with all of the activities that pupils at Bonner Primary School did to celebrate the day, and it is brilliant to hear how Digital Leaders engaged their peers in conversations about reliability online.
Take a look at Taybah and Fleur’s film below to find out what they got up to, as well as some slides from their fantastic presentation.
Thanks for your ‘Terrific Tip’, Taybah and Fleur. We think it is a great idea to check with an adult if you are unsure how reliable a website really is!
Many thanks to Ms Atherton for supporting your pupils at Bonner Primary School in their Safer Internet Day celebrations. If you would like to share your Digital Leader achievements and feature in a blogpost or in the community newsletter, get in touch at email@example.com.
We suggest making the most of the summer term, allowing you to head into the next school year with a group of confident peer leaders who are eager to impact their school community and educate their peers on online safety.
The youth leadership aspect of the Childnet Digital Leaders Programme means that your whole school community can be impacted by the programme, including parents, carers, and families. Once your school is enrolled, it only takes a couple of weeks to get a group of your pupils started on the gamified online training platform, and for the programme to begin having an impact.
Young people have been spending more time online than ever before and are increasingly aware of the positive and not so positive aspects of our online lives. Now is the time to engage the young people you work with in conversations about their online lives, to empower them, and learn how to support one another online with the Digital Leaders Programme.
A programme subscription will last either one or two calendar years. If you choose to subscribe to the programme now and train up a group of Digital Leaders over the summer term, you can then recruit a new cohort in the autumn term, allowing the programme to continue to have impact throughout the following academic year.
Digital Leader Training Platform development
The Childnet team are currently working on redevelopment of some of the Digital Leader training modules and online platform over the coming months, so now is an exciting time to enrol! The platform learning content is developed by our online safety experts and informed directly by Digital Leaders’ feedback on what they want to learn about, and what they are most concerned about with regard to their time online.
Register your interest in the programme here to receive some more information and a link to our enrolment form where you can choose to purchase either a one year or two year programme subscription.
Childnet are happy to announce that we are in the early stages of a two-year project, supported by Google.org. Thrive Online is designed to support young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in managing and making the most of their online lives and relationships.
We recognise that young people with SEND are often not included in online safety conversations and at Childnet we want to ensure that all young people are equipped with the skills, confidence and support they need to thrive online. Young people are spending more time online than ever before and the COVID -19 pandemic has only heightened this. We want all young people to enjoy positive online experiences and we know that young people with SEND require tailor made support to help them manage life online. At Childnet we also recognise that there is a need for educators and parents and carers to have the necessary guidance to support young people with SEND online.
What does Thrive Online involve?
Within this exciting project, we will develop resources, including brand new videos, for educators as well as a toolkit for parents and carers covering the topics of healthy relationships, digital wellbeing and online pornography. These resources will enable both educators and parents to support young people with SEND online confidently.
We will also build upon our existing Digital Leaders platform to ensure that we have a platform suitable for the needs of young people with special educational needs and to support them in becoming online safety peer educators.
These resources will all be developed with secondary age pupils in mind. Young peoples’ voices and online experiences will be at the heart of this project and feed directly into the resources developed.
To find out more about Thrive Online, watch the project video developed with the help of Google here.
At the end of 2020 Childnet launched the STAR toolkit, a teaching resource for educators working with young people with SEND to support them online. The STAR toolkit covers the topics of Safe sharing, Trust, Action and Respect. We have received feedback from educators that the resource is ‘current, looks great and the resources are engaging and motivating’ along with the activities being ‘relevant and accessible’.
We are happy to be building upon our work in this field and are excited that our Thrive Online project will offer further, tailor-made online safety education with a focus on online relationships for young people with SEND at secondary age.
What stage is the Thrive Online project at now?
We are working directly with educators, parents and carers and other organisations who have done work in this area to inform the resources that we are at the early stages of developing. We have been hearing in focus groups with parent and teacher groups about the positive impact of the online world as well as the challenges that young people with SEND face online. We also plan to hear directly from young people over the coming months as we develop these resources.
Opportunity for educators and pupils at SEND schools to get involved
We are keen to work directly with educators and young people throughout this project to ensure that the support we offer around the online lives of young people with SEND is built upon their real experiences.
Please do get in touch at [email protected] if you are an educator who would like to be involved alongside your pupils in the development of these important resources. Your input would be invaluable and we would love to work with you.
We will be piloting the resources in the new academic year so are currently looking for special educational needs schools who would like to be involved in this process. Please do get in touch if you would like more information about this opportunity.
Digital Leaders Programme opportunities
As part of Thrive Online, we will be developing new Digital Leader training modules around the topics of healthy relationships, digital wellbeing and online pornography, specifically tailored for Digital Leaders with SEND. We want the empowerment and leadership opportunities that the Digital Leaders Programme provides to be accessible for all school settings and all pupils.
If you are a Special Educational Needs school already subscribed to the Digital Leaders Programme, we would really like to hear your feedback on how your pupils find the current Digital Leader modules as well as your experiences of broaching the new module topics with your pupils. If you are the Digital Leader teacher at an SEN setting, we would really appreciate if you could provide your feedback in this 20 minute survey. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/X59ZRFQ Your feedback will directly inform the new module development. Get in touch at [email protected] if you have any questions at all about completing the survey.
We also have an opportunity for Digital Leader teachers and their teams to help inform the new module development and access these modules first as part of our piloting process. Get in touch at [email protected] if you would like to find out more about this opportunity.
If you are not yet subscribed to the Digital Leaders Programme, you can do so now to then be able to take part in the piloting of these new modules. With pupils now returning to school, it is currently a great time to subscribe to the programme. For more information on how the Digital Leaders Programme works take a look at the ‘How it Works’ page. Get in touch at [email protected] if you have any questions about running the programme in your school.
Hello! We are the Digital Leaders at St. Matthew’s CE Primary. We started our Digital Leaders training last September with the aim of fostering increased awareness of online safety throughout our school community. We use a display board, the weekly newsletter, our Twitter feed and school website to keep everyone updated. We are keen to keep thinking of fun and interesting ways to raise awareness of all aspects of online safety.
This year, for Safer Internet Day, we decided to record an assembly for our school to watch during their live lessons. We discussed TRUST and various scenarios and reminded everyone to QUESTION, CHECK, ASK. We also decided to reinforce the SMART rules. Finally, we set the whole school a challenge to create a poster, song, animation, quiz or rap about the SMART rules. Individual classes also completed additional work such as reading an online safety story or debating real or fake news.
We hope to carry on and complete the rest of our modules before the end of this academic year. We plan on announcing an exciting competition at the beginning of the summer term and we’ve been planning more engaging activities to share our learning. For example: we plan on creating an emoji quiz, which is a code breaker activity.
We’ve learnt so much being Digital Leaders and really enjoy the responsibility of helping others learn more about online safety. Our top tips are: don’t share personal information, don’t talk to strangers, don’t click on any pop ups and have a trusted adult nearby. Remember to question, check and ask if you are unsure about anything.
Thank you to the Digital Leader team and Mrs Pawson at Stretton St. Matthew’s CE Primary for letting us know how they have been impacting their school community! If you would like to share your Digital Leader achievements and feature in a blogpost or in the community newsletter, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Young people were at the heart of Safer Internet Day 2021 – in schools, at home, and even during the live event broadcast from the BT Tower Studios.
Childnet Digital Champion, Lucy, was one of those involved as part of the youth panel discussion around identifying and navigating misleading online content. And she was delighted to hear other young people’s opinions and help to spread the word in promoting online safety.
Lucy said: “I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in Safer Internet Day 2021! I think that the highlights for me were being able to learn more about the theme of unreliable content. It was never really a topic that I focused on but with this being the key theme, I was able to concentrate on it and learn more from others.
“It was a great feeling to be a part of promoting these activities! I’ve always been involved in the activities for my school, but this allowed me to have a wider impact and it was gratifying to be able to perhaps help people that I otherwise would not have had any contact with.”
The UK Safer Internet Centre coordinates Safer Internet Day each year, reaching millions of young people, parents and carers, and educators across the UK, giving them the vital information and support they need to keep young people safe online.
This year’s theme and accompanying research focused on ‘An internet we trust: exploring reliability in the online world’.
“I think the Day is important because it allows online safety to be the centre of attention,” added Lucy. “A majority of people are online every day yet not many pay attention to the safety aspect of it, so Safer Internet Day allows us to highlight the importance of staying safe online.”
As part of the Childnet Digital Leaders Programme, Lucy’s school and her schoolmates were able to build on their existing online safety knowledge with a variety of activities.
“We had a school-wide assembly and competition set up for Safer Internet Day,” she explained. “I think that the Digital Leaders Programme has helped in our school as it gave us more of an incentive to be involved in online safety in general.
“We always did activities regarding online safety but the programme has allowed it to be more in the forefront of our school and allowed us to have training and learn new skills that we couldn’t have without it!”