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Shaping the future of online education in school: experiences from being a Digital Leader

Published: 16th July 2019

Hi! It’s Zahra.

As a Digital Leader at Sarah Bonnell School, I spread the message of online safety within my school community educating my peers about its importance. During my 4 years as a Digital Leader in my school I have been involved in many events and workshops. When we began the Childnet Digital Leaders Programme our workshops were quite small and not many people came. However throughout the years it has grown and we have become so much more influential in our school community.

When I first joined the Childnet Digital Leaders Programme I had to complete the online modules on the Digital Leaders platform. This helped me to expand my knowledge of the online world, allowing me to help advise others on how to use the internet in a positive and safe way. I enjoyed the modules a lot especially the one where we were tasked to do an event in our school. We held our first workshop later that year where we created many activities for students to enjoy at lunch.

In my second year of being a Digital Leader our team created a huge workshop in the assembly hall at lunch where we had many activities around the room. Students were invited to complete these activities and when they did they could personalise their own badge which was then made by the Digital Leaders. We also held many assemblies during the school year with presentations for all age groups which were very interesting and interactive.

Through the rest of the years I have gained more experienced in holding events, creating informative and interactive PowerPoints and spreading the message of online safety has become easier.

Successfully leading events

In my third year of being a Digital Leader our school held a day dedicated to teaching Year 7’s the importance of the online world which of course was led by us, the Digital Leaders! At the start of the day we led the lessons with PowerPoints we created based on the education packs provided by Childnet. At the end of the day the different classes created a drama role play based on the theme of Safer Internet Day 2018. This was a huge success and we were later informed that we had a surprise visit from Ofsted who saw us in action and praised our leadership! On the same day we were also invited to the SID 2018 London event as guests. This was an amazing experience! This was such a great success and we have continued these activities every year.

Sessions for students who are in trouble

We also created a new idea of holding sessions for students who are in trouble for misusing the internet. We created PowerPoints and activities for afterschool sessions where we informed the students of the consequences and encouraged them to reflect on their actions, explaining to them the benefits as well as risks of the internet. This had a great impact as we have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of students who have been in internal exclusion for misusing the internet.

Getting involved in Safer Internet Day

This current year we have been busy, we held a SID event in our school for Year 7’s again based on this year’s theme of consent, where we taught students about the meaning and the importance of it. We have also been holding many more sessions and workshops for students which have had such a brilliant impact. This year we were again invited to the London SID event, not as guests but as students delivering the activities! This was an amazing experience and I was so excited. I also got the opportunity to be part of the youth panel presenting on stage and giving our opinions on different ideas around consent which was amazing.

The future of online safety in my school

Now in year 10 I have enjoyed every moment of being a Digital Leader and due to my strong passion I applied to become the senior leader for online safety in my school which I was then chosen for! This was really exciting and means I can have more of an input in online safety within my school. Next year I plan on holding amazing workshops, recruiting new Digital Leaders and creating an even bigger legacy. The experience of being a Digital Leader has been such a great one and I definitely recommend it to all of you who want to make a positive impact online.

But of course, none of this could have been possible without our amazing online safety teacher, Ms Adel at Sarah Bonnell School and of course the Childnet Digital Leaders team! Thank you for all the hard work and effort you put in.

I hope to carry on creating a positive impact on the online world and remember a safer internet starts with you!