Tony Parkin welcomes a new e-safety service for primary pupils
While 15-year-olds think they know it all when it comes to social networking, and may indeed be well-informed, 9 and 10-year-olds happily admit to what they don’t know, making them ideal subjects for a new e-safety programme like Safe, said Robert Bond, a lawyer backing the free new e-safety social networking support service for primary schoolchildren

Getting its first airing in the United States today (November 9, 2010), Safe was launched recently in London by DigitalME, and is backed by Childnet International, Radiowaves and The i in Online (lawyers supporting education on personal privacy and regulatory aspects of internet use).

Safe has been designed to help primary pupils learn the essential skills needed to enjoy social networking while remaining safe online.The standard programme, with its rich online resources, is free to registered schools, though there are additional services – optional, paid-for training, certificates, badges and other resources – that can extend support further if a school requires.

Primary school safety schemes successful back to The Tufty Club

Tim RichesTim RichesTim Riches, of Radiowaves and director of DigitalME, is speaking about Safe at the annual conference of the Family Online Safety Institute in Washington, USA, today. He opened the official launch of Safe at a Westminster eForum event in October, looking at the wider aspects of safety in the educational context.  He reminded us that primary school-based safety schemes have a long tradition of success, and older members of the audience resisted misty-eyed nostalgia as he reminded them of the amazing impact that The Tufty Club had on engaging children in learning road safety. Safe aims to offer a similar opportunity to help children navigate the information superhighway just as safely.

Kate Valentine, a teacher at Buckingham Primary School and a Safe adviser, stressed that the programme brings real context, meaning and understanding to the issues involved, unlike some other sites where games involving islands and circling sharks are perhaps a little too metaphorical in their approach. The programme has two levels of certification, based on the familiar "I can…" approach that encourages and allows for student self-assessment. She also stressed that it is designed to integrate effectively into the existing key stage 2 ICT curriculum, with strategies and resources that can be readily adopted by teachers, even those without high digital literacy skills.

“Safe has been created by teachers, and the pupils have constantly been at the fore of its development," Kate added. "That's why the programme is so simple to integrate, and effective for both the teacher and children to use. It is comprised of step-by-step instructions, links to the curriculum, and whole-class and carousel activities. Offering a self-assessment system, teachers can reward pupils for completing the programme with certificates and badges plus gaining accreditation for their school.”

The structure of Safe is based on three simple questions that are intended to prompt pupils to ask their own questions before they share any information or media:

  • Who?
    Who will see what you share? How do you control who can see it?
  • What?
    What are you sharing? Is it yours to share? What personal information are you sharing?
  • Where?
    Where are you sharing things? Is this the best place for you and your work?

'Children pretend to be older than they really are when online'

Will Gardner, of Childnet International, said he was delighted to back a programme offering such excellent free resources and practical activities that engaged learners so effectively. He said that although many social sites require a child to be 13, studies have shown that many children pretend to be older than they really are when online. With children sharing content online and joining social networks at an increasingly younger age, there is a greater need to ensure primary-aged pupils are equipped with the knowledge to understand potential risks and the skills to manage their digital footprint.

One of the students involved in the development of the programme, Alex Everett, of the Internet Governance Forum, observed that some learners now use Facebook and similar sites as a presentation medium to display themselves to the world, not just as a daily narrative of their social lives. He felt strongly that "Digital citizenship" is a worthy but forbidding phrase, and the need for safety should be a constant drip-feed throughout children’s online learning.

To find out more, or to register to participate in the programme please visit:

The Twitter tag for Safe is #dmsafe


Tony ParkinTony Parkin is an independent education consultant. He was formerly head of ICT development at the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT). His email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and he is on Twitter at


Safe supporters

Safe was developed by DigitalMe with support from partners: Childnet International, The I in Online and Radiowaves.

DigitalME is a social enterprise that aims to use new technology to provide innovative learning opportunities for all young people with a particular focus on engaging those disconnected from mainstream provision and opportunities.

Radiowaves, launched in 2003, is the leading safe social learning environment for young people and is used in omore than 1,500 schools in the UK and internationally, with 28,000 young reporters uploading their profiles, blogs, media and comments to moderated media stations. Radiowaves works with many companies, industry organisations and government departments on projects which give young people a voice in a safe environment. Partners include The Football Foundation, the
Imperial War Museum, Childnet International, The Arts Award, The Ministry of Justice, The British Council, Drinkaware and the SSAT.

Childnet International is a registered charity set up in 1995 with the mission to work in partnership with others around the world to “help make the Internet a great and safe place for children”. The vision of the organisation is to ensure that all those involved in developing, producing, controlling, using and regulating international telecommunications (current and future), recognise and implement policies and programmes which prioritise the rights of children so that their interests are both promoted and protected.

The i in online aims to educate primary and secondary school children, as well as their parents and teachers about using and providing their personal information online and the potential pitfalls of not managing privacy settings effectively. Legal experts highlight the regulatory and legal aspects of this topic, whilst also demonstrating technical issues and illustrating mechanisms to help protect personal data while using the Internet.

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