The Safer Schools App was launched by Zurich Municipal and online safeguarding experts, Ineqe Safeguarding Group in 2018. Since then, it has been rolled out across thousands of schools in the UK. The App combines the expertise of a range of safeguarding professionals to provide staff, parents and carers and young people with a greater understanding of the digital space, trends and emerging risks, as well as education about frequently used online language, social media buzzwords and credible video contact. After piloting the App with a selection of primary and secondary schools, it was launched on Island in September 2019. Since then, schools have been rolling it out to their communities through their own launch events.
The Safer Schools App is free, due to being insured by Zurich Municipal, and has many features that are of benefit to the whole school community. It provides information about social media and how to block, mute and report anything that someone may find worrying - from images to comments from online bullies – along with useful advice on how home and mobile devices can be made safer. The app also educates in online language and gives detailed information about the different apps available to young people, highlighting the age restrictions and associated risks. It offers support on how conversations can be facilitated with children and young people about the challenges and risks they will face online. Most importantly, it takes away the uncertainty of whether the results from a google search can be trusted; the information provided through the App is contemporary, credible and reliable
Why this is important
In these unprecedented times, we know everyone has spent more time at home and using social media to ensure that physical distancing did not become social isolation. The positive power of technology helped keep our community digitally connected, but we also know that more time spent online by our young people can lead to greater levels of risk.
The team at Ineqe Safeguarding Group monitor specialist safeguarding news and alerts in real time. They also gather feedback from Safer Schools partners on the issues they face and capture lessons emerging from Serious Case and Local Practice Reviews. This is then used to send prompts, alerts and information to the user, providing support on topics including mental health, media literacy, sexting, bullying, gaming and sexual exploitation online.
How this fits into the bigger picture
Whilst ordinarily designed for use by individual schools, due to the Covid-19 pandemic we have worked with the Safer Schools Team to enable the App to be temporarily released Island-wide. This means that all parents and carers, school staff and other safeguarding professionals across the Island can access this key resource regardless of the establishment they are connected to. It is important to note, however, that this does not replace the accounts of the individual schools who are already using the App, it simply ensures no-one misses out on the important information. We will be equipping parents with information on an ever changing world in order to keep our young children safer when online.
Entry and QR codes for the newly named ‘Isle of Man Safer Schools’ account will be available here for professionals, parents and carers. Access codes for young people in Key Stage 2 – Key Stage 5 are included in the parent/carer letter. Guidance notes highlighting the key features will also be available.
If you have any difficulties or have any questions you can contact the DESC team on IOMSaferSchools.DESC@sch.im