It’s been a long day. We had a really productive cluster meeting in the morning (more on his later). However, the main point of this post it to talk about tonight’s event.
I thought it was outstanding. First of all we had a turn out from over 100 parents, representing over 250 pupils within the school. For a parent event that was not a parents evening, I was amazed. We had some excellent input from some great speakers including Joan Tranent (one of our senior social workers), Detective Sergeant Andy Jones (Lothian Borders Police) and Ronnie Summers (Headteacher, MGS) who set a great context for the evening. I also did my bit of the social networking side of things.
We were supported by LTS (who provided materials for the packs), The Child Exploitation Online Protection Agency – CEOP (who allowed us to be the first school in Scotland [I think the UK] to use their parent training material), Young Scot East Lothian (who provided staff and nearly the space bus!), our own staff (who adopted the role of coffee break experts) and most importantly the parents.
The press were there in full
force, with representatives from the East Lothian Courier, The Times Educational Supplement and the Scotsman. I just hope now that the
slant that the press take is that parent training, on-line safety and
responsible use is an issue across Scotland and we are one of the
first schools that are trying to embrace it, rather than it is a particular
issue in Musselburgh Grammar. In fact it is my opinion that on-line safety is
less of a problem in MGS than other areas of the UK because we have done so much
work to promote the responsible use.
As far as I am concerned the biggest hurdle when trying to promote the ‘responsible message’ is to get parents
involved and try to encourage the idea of collective
Tonight we took a huge and brave step in trying to achieve this and I was very proud to be part of such an event.
So what did we cover?
We started off with an adapted ‘Shift Happens’ Presentation. This used some of the statistics for the original but also included specific examples of on-line bullying and on-line grooming.
Next Ronnie Summers (Headteacher Musselburgh Grammar) Introduced the evening. I loved Ronnie’s analogy of wanting to get pupils to use the internet is like wanting them to ride a bike. We need to give them support BUT if they fall over they can get very hurt.
Andy Jones and Joan Tranent Spoke about the Law. I think parents found it particularly interesting to find out that just being in possession of an explicit image in some cases can constitute a break in the law.
I want on to show a few examples of social networking sites and the dangers that irresponsible use can bring. I tried to emphasise the point that parents and children need to understand that behaviour on-line is just like behaviour in any social space. For example, if you wouldn’t say something in real life? Why would you say it on-line?
The sites that we covered in detail were Habba Hotel, MSN Messenger, Bebo and a chat room called Teenspot. We also looked at how due to irresponsible use of a social networking site it was possible to find out where your parents lived, how much your house was worth and your annual income.
Here are a few key slides that I gave as a handout to parents:
If anyone would like more information about the evening, please get in touch.
For some great resources
check out www.thinkuknow.co.uk
Finally, it was great to see representatives from other Authorities (thanks Mr W) and from other secondary schools in East Lothian who attended the evening because they were interested in what was going on - we are all in the same game after all, aren't we?