Cyber4Schools® helps children stay safe online - watch the video case study

Cyber4Schools® helps children stay safe online - watch the video case study

“You never know who you can come across online, so I think it’s important to stay safe.”

- Year 7 student


“If we can prevent young people from becoming the victims of the future then surely that’s the best thing we can possibly do.”

- Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire, Chris Brierley


These are some of the comments taken from our short video case study of the Cyber4Schools® pilot which is currently taking place in Gloucestershire. Supported by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Gloucestershire Police and Gloucestershire County Council, Cyber4Schools®  is a learning programme to help Year 7 students stay safe online. It’s delivered in school using experts including the Police, and is one of the approaches to helping children stay safe online Ci is currently learning from and evaluating.

In the case study, the Head of Year 7 and Assistant Head of Chosen Hill School in Gloucestershire reflect on the need for online safety lessons, particularly for this age group. Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire, Chris Brierley, provides the Police’s perspective. Students after the lesson remark on the impact it’s made on their behaviour. 

Rachel Neaman, Ci’s CEO, explains the importance of helping all young people to have the skills to use digital tools safely and confidently.

Ci is keen to work with partners and we’d love to hear from organisations that want to work with us. Please get in touch.

Corsham’s Safer Internet Day - video

Corsham’s Safer Internet Day - video

“It’s important to be safe online, because lots of people are being bullied...”


“If people don’t learn about online safety… anything can happen”


These are just two of the comments from young people in Corsham, featured in the video Ci filmed in a number of Corsham area schools as part of our work on Safer Internet Day 2018.

Teachers also reflect on the work being done to bring the schools and community together to empower young people to use the internet safely; and Ci’s CEO, Rachel Neaman sums up the importance of this work:  “We want to create informed citizens of the future and by involving the whole community in the conversation about this, children, parents, teachers and carers we can start to have some real impact.”

Other activities to support Safer Internet Day in Corsham include an exhibition of findings from the survey of 2000-plus pupils, which runs at the Springhill Campus throughout February half-term before touring the participating schools.

For more details about this project please see our previous blog posts, or go to

Corsham Safer Internet Survey 2018 – the results

Corsham Safer Internet Survey 2018 – the results

Ci today published the full results of the Corsham Safer Internet Survey, carried out with 10 schools across the Corsham area to mark Safer Internet Day 2018.

The survey included responses from over 2000 pupils: 1,243 Primary School and 840 Secondary School students between the ages of 4 and 18 from across Corsham, Box, Neston and Colerne.

Some of the key headlines were as follows:

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  • 36 per cent of 11-18-year old girls have felt bullied online in the last 12 months; in contrast only 23 per cent of boys say the same thing.
  • The average age children got their first social media account was 10.9 years old, despite most social media sites asking users to be 13 or over. 
  • 46 per cent of 11-18-year-olds said that Instagram was the first social media account they signed up to, while 14 per cent said it was Snapchat and 21 per cent Facebook.
  • Overall 10 per cent of 11-18-year-olds have ‘felt pressured’ to share a picture of themselves online. Broken down by gender, 13 per cent of girls said they had, compared to 6 per cent of boys.
  • A quarter of secondary school children are using the internet to meet with people they have never met before. 32 per cent of young people at Secondary School said that in the last year they had contact with someone online who they hadn’t met face-to-face before.
  • 30 per cent of 4-18-year-olds admitted they have been “upset or bothered by something they saw online” in the past year
  • 10 per cent of 11-18-year-olds admitted they have treated someone online in a hurtful or mean way in the past year

You can read more about the survey findings here.

Ci's CEO Rachel Neaman said:  “We’re proud to be working with schools and local groups to ensure the next generation are properly informed about how to use the internet safely. Our programme of activities and events this week will provide information for parents, pupils and teachers about how to reduce the risks posed by online sites and social media and ensure our community enjoys digital technology safely and confidently.”

Listen to Rachel talking about the survey and some of the findings on BBC Wiltshire today (see 34.21 to 42.15).

You can also read an article by Rachel on the survey and the wider implications of children and young people’s life online on the Corsham Institute and RAND Europe Observatory for a Connected Society. Download the app to read it on Android and Apple.

The Corsham Safer Internet Survey results form part of a special exhibition which opens today for a fortnight at Springfield Community Campus, Beechfield Road, Corsham SN13 9DN.

All the schools in the area have also been coordinating special Safer Internet Day activities, lessons, assemblies and parent/carer workshops to help promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology by children and young people.

We’ll be posting a video, produced by Ci 's Creative Team, on this blog showcasing some of the great local school activities.


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How can the internet be made safer?

How can the internet be made safer?

‘Hopefully, in 10 years’ time, the internet will be a nicer place.’ - Secondary School pupil


We would all, of course, agree that the internet should be a safer and more respectful place, but how does the next generation think the internet will change and how could it be made better?

In the run-up to Safer Internet Day (6 February), we’ve been engaging with local schools in Corsham. Ten schools – all those in the local area – have been involved and over 2,000 children across the age groups have responded to a survey about their online usage and behaviours. More detailed results will be published on this blog next week.


Before then, here’s a taster of some of the pupils’ fascinating and insightful responses to some of the survey questions.

On the question of who is responsible for making the internet safer primary age children gave wideranging answers from The Queen to Siri, from Mummy to my Head Teacher, to the Community, to everyone in the World.

Looking ahead to what the internet will be like in a decade, views from a range of secondary school students included:

‘that, in 10 years’ time the internet will be faster, safer, cooler, more private, more sophisticated and there will be artificial intelligence and more social media’.


And how could it be better?

‘The internet would be a better place if there were less adverts, less hackers, more filtering of inappropriate content and more privacy.’  - Secondary School pupils

‘The internet would be a safer place if people only signed up to social media accounts for their age and if people were more careful who they talk to online.’ - Secondary School pupils

‘The internet would be a better place if there wasn’t so much pressure on your appearance.’ - Secondary School pupil


The full survey responses and the statistical results will be presented in a week-long public exhibition in Corsham to coincide with Safer Internet Day and then in further reports and blogs by Ci.

Safer Internet Day is celebrated globally in February each year, to promote the safe and positive use of digital technology for children and young people. Coordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre, it involves over a thousand schools and hundreds of organisations getting involved to help promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology by children and young people. 

Globally, Safer Internet Day is celebrated in over a hundred countries, coordinated by the joint Insafe/INHOPE network, with the support of the European Commission, and national Safer Internet Centres across Europe.

More details about our work for Safer Internet Day can be found here.

‘Technology Rules? Not OK…’

‘Technology Rules? Not OK…’

On 19 January 2018 TEDx is coming to Corsham and Ci’s CEO Rachel Neaman will be speaking about how digital technology is changing society’s rules.

TEDx was created to support the overall TED mission of ‘ideas worth spreading’, and supports independent organisers to create TED-like events in their communities. Since the beginning of the TEDx programme in 2009, around 15,000 events have been held around the world and videos of them have been viewed one billion times.

The theme of the Corsham event is Changing the Rules, and it aims to spark conversations and connections across the community. It’s been organised by Libby Forsyth, a sixth-form student at Corsham School, in conjunction with the Pound Arts Centre and will also involve other speakers discussing their own experiences of changing the rules.

Rachel commented that:

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to talk about the impact that technology is having on everyone’s lives and how it is not just changing the rules, but ripping up the rule book.

Our work at the Ci is to make sense of the new landscape for the benefit of all and to show how communities can write new rules to create a trusted and inclusive society”.

Ci’s in-house Creative Team are making videos of the speakers for submitting to the TEDx platform and we will post Rachel’s talk – ‘Technology Rules? Not OK…’ –  here when the video is live.

Supporting children in a changing world

Supporting children in a changing world

Life in Likes, the recent report from the Children’s Commissioner on social media use by 8-12 year olds, injected some much needed realism and insight into the debate about children’s adoption of technology.

Social media sites’ terms and conditions may say they restrict users to children aged 13 or over, but there is a steady rise in the use of social media by children much younger than that. Ofcom’s 2017 report, Children’s Media Lives, reported that 28% of 10 year olds have a social media profile, rising to 46% at 11, 51% at 12 and then 72% at 13 when they are ‘allowed’ access.  “Life in Likes” suggested that the figures for under-13’s may well be higher, and that three-quarters of 10-12 year olds now have a social media account.

Informed by focus groups with 8-12 year olds, the Children’s Commissioner’s report suggested that there was a “cliff edge” for children at the transition from primary to secondary school, with increased exposure to online pressures for which they were unprepared. The discussions suggested that this led to children: seeing “likes” as a form of social validation; worrying about keeping up appearances and an online “image”; oversharing personal information; and being anxious at missing out if not connected. As Ofcom’s research also charted a steep hike in smartphone ownership at this point of transition – from 39% of 8-11 year olds to 83% of 12-15 year olds – it is easy to see how the relationship between children and technology can move from being a source of creativity, fun and entertainment in the home environment to one associated with constant social and emotional pressure, both in and out of school.

Far from being “digital natives”, confident in their relationship with tech, children and young people need to be supported, informed and empowered to build resilience, critical thinking and digital literacy. Not just once, as a curriculum tick-box, but throughout their school years and into lifelong learning in order to keep pace with the evolution of technology and its uses. When the Children’s Commissioner also reports that 73% of parents are concerned about their children accessing inappropriate material online, 49% are worried about their children oversharing personal information, and 61% fear social media is an overwhelming distraction (Growing Up Digital, 2017) there has never been more of a need to bring parents along on the journey too, so that the huge benefits of digital technology for their children’s futures aren’t lost in an existential panic about the online world they have entered.

What to do? “Life in Likes” recommended that the Government:

  • Broaden digital literacy education beyond safety messages, to develop children’s critical awareness, resilience and understanding of algorithms, focusing on the transition stage from primary to secondary school.  
  • Inform parents about the ways in which children’s social media use changes with age, particularly on entry to secondary school, and help them support children to use social media in a positive way, and to disengage from it.

So it is positive to see that significant – and coordinated – proposals along these lines are being put forward by the Government through last year’s Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper from DCMS and the joint Department of Health/Department for Education Green Paper on children and young people’s mental health, which is currently out for consultation until 2 March. Both these papers recognise that digital skills are no longer just about coding and child protection online but also about relationships, citizenship and life skills. Indeed DfE’s current consultation/call for evidence (which closes on 12 February) on the introduction of compulsory teaching on Relationships (in primary schools) and Relationships and Sex Education (in secondary schools) includes aspects of digital resilience and critical thinking in the proposed curriculum.

“This decision [to make Relationships education compulsory] was taken in recognition of the fact that children need more support to navigate growing up in an increasingly complex and digital world. Whilst the internet is an overwhelmingly positive development in our lives, it does present significant challenges, particularly for young people. The dominance of social media, the prevalence of cyber-bullying and the risk that children learn about relationships from untrustworthy sources – the evidence was compelling that young people need support to make the right decisions and keep themselves safe online”.

We recognise this need for support and we’re doing our bit at Ci. Read more at the links below:


Season’s greetings from the Ci team

Season’s greetings from the Ci team

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As we head towards the Christmas break, it’s time for a little reminder of what Corsham Institute (Ci) has been up to in 2017.

Wishing you all a happy and relaxing festive season. We look forward to working with all our communities, partners and supporters again in the New Year. 

A review of 2017

It’s been busy! Here are some of our highlights.

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Expanding our team

Over the year we have welcomed a new CEO and 11 members of staff to our expanding team, including two apprentices and an executive leadership team. In the new year, we are also expecting to appoint a new Chair and more Trustees to our Board. 
As a result of our growing team and our desire to be closer to our networks and key stakeholders, we’ve now opened a London office.


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Thought Leadership

A major highlight for us this year was the successful second season of our Thought Leadership events, in partnership with RAND Europe. The 2017 programme saw representatives from industry, academia, the not-for-profit sector and Government come together to discuss Open Science, Digital Currency, Digital Learning and Civic Engagement. You can find out more about our Thought Leadership programme and read the reports here.


Observatory for a Connected Society

In October we launched our first app, the Observatory for a Connected Society, in partnership with RAND Europe. It is a ‘one-stop shop’ for the latest research, analysis and thinking from leading experts on the impact of digital technologies, services and tools on society. Find out more about the app and where to download it here.


Countering Violent Extremism

This September, we launched our Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programme. This programme is built on a combination of positive narrative, education and data, and through it we have launched a regular CVE podcast which is now amongst the 5% most downloaded podcasts globally. 


Digital Leaders South West

In November this year, Ci was also delighted to launch a new partnership with Digital Leaders. We will be working together to facilitate new and refreshing thought leadership, networking opportunities and exciting events for the digital community across the South West region.



In 2017, Ci became the national partner of The Cyber Trust to deliver Cyber4Schools®. This UK-wide programme helps children stay safe online. Cyber4Schools® is currently being piloted in Gloucestershire.

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Ci Patron Programme

Building mutually beneficial partnerships and a network of supporters is key to our success and the impact we deliver. During 2017 we introduced our new Patron programme, creating a community of influential organisations and individuals that share our vision and support our mission and work programme. To find out more about becoming a Patron click here.

We look forward to continue working for a fair, inclusive, prosperous and creative society based on trust and security. Keep an eye on our Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for all our latest news and activities.

AI, data ethics and digital society: we need to talk …

AI, data ethics and digital society: we need to talk …

Artificial intelligence, data ethics and trust have risen up the tech thought-leadership agenda in recent months. TechUK’s excellent Digital Ethics summit on 13 December brought together a veritable who’s who of influencers and leaders from industry, academia, government and policy institutions for a day of lively and engaging debate. #AIethics was even trending on Twitter as the summit progressed, to the bemusement of athletics fans clicking on what they thought was a misspelt hashtag.

It’s not all just talk: not one, but two bodies focusing on data ethics and innovation have been announced in recent months. The Government’s Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation was announced in the Autumn Budget , while the Nuffield Foundation has brought a number of partners together to establish a Convention on Data Ethics and Artificial Intelligence, set out in detail by Nuffield’s Tim Gardam in his speech at the techUK summit. How they will work together, and avoid duplication and blurred boundaries, will be a challenge in an already crowded institutional landscape. Maybe, as Antony Walker, deputy Chief Executive of techUK, suggested in his closing remarks, the Government body might deal with the here-and-now political imperatives, while the Nuffield Convention might focus on horizon-scanning, creating space for deeper consideration of longer-term issues before they materialise. Sensible in theory, but a potential leadership and accountability muddle in practice.

Throughout the summit, speaker after speaker emphasised the importance of building trust, engaging the public, and of bridging the gap between innovators and customers, between industry and civic society. It’s a theme that also ran through the discussions at the Royal Society and British Academy’s seminar in October on “Data management and use: governance in the 21st century”. Their report and the associated papers, including a contribution from Maeve Walsh, Ci’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, was also published to coincide with the techUK summit. So, it was reassuring to hear from Tim Gardam that public engagement was a priority for the Nuffield Convention – though his conclusion that it was “one critical area where we have to further define our thinking” also suggests it might take a while.

Ci has long believed that the citizen must be at the heart of all decisions about the kind of digital future we want to build. This was a resounding conclusion from our Thought Leadership programme this year. The pace of technological change and the speed of innovation means that many profound changes to the way we live are already underway. Some of these may be hugely beneficial for individuals and communities, and socially or ethically neutral; others may have disturbing unintended consequences or create unequal socio-economic impacts. Some may be both, at the same time. What is certain is that Governments, regulators and policymakers are currently playing catch-up, whether it’s trying to mitigate the impact of the bad stuff, or create the conditions to amplify and spread the benefits of the good.

But speed of change is no excuse for not starting a dialogue with the public now. There isn’t going to be a natural break in the pace of technological transformation anytime soon, no pause in progress where we can take a deep breath and take stock. This is no longer a debate about the kind of digital society we want to see in the future, but what kind of society. Shaping this future, as Matt Hancock acknowledged at the techUK summit, is not something Government can do alone. Nor, we would argue, can the impressive range of organisations – however broad and diverse – at the techUK summit, or any number of other such events every week. This debate has to break out of the tech-conference circuit and speak directly to the public in terms that are meaningful to them.

That is why a few weeks ago we hosted a roundtable with groups from across civic society and the charitable sector to discuss the current common themes and concerns in relation to digital engagement and technological progress. Our starting point was that the dialogue between Government and the tech industry on the kind of future we want to see has to be informed, urgently, by the citizen’s perspective. In short: if the Government’s Digital Charter was truly citizen-centric, what would it look like?

At our roundtable, we heard from groups representing older people, young people, disadvantaged groups and those with disabilities, as well as representatives from industry, those working in the field of digital inclusion and engagement, and researchers. As we’d hoped, there was an overwhelming consensus that greater collaboration and partnership on common priorities across these interest groups was vital, that we need to bring the citizen into the conversation, and that we must ensure that we protect and support the most vulnerable in society to make choices about how technology will affect them.

We’ll be continuing this dialogue and collaboration with urgency and enthusiasm in the New Year. Watch this space and get in touch if you’d like to be involved. 

Cyber4Schools® kicks off its pilot in Gloucestershire

Cyber4Schools® kicks off its pilot in Gloucestershire

This week marked an important milestone for the pilot of Cyber4Schools®, the learning programme to help children stay safe online. Ci is the national partner to the Cyber Trust to deliver Cyber4Schools®. Professor Richard Benham, Ci’s Programme Director for Cyber, Trust and Security, carried out the first online safety lesson with Year 7 pupils at Chosen Hill School in Gloucestershire. 

The pilot’s focus is on 11-year-olds, the typical age when smartphones give children their first unsupervised access to the Internet, and is supported by Gloucestershire Police, Gloucestershire County Council and Cyber Security Challenge UK.

The pilot

Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Martin Surl, was the first PCC in the country to make cyber security a police priority. At the start of their lesson, the children were delighted to be presented with a CyberCitizen® for their school by Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire, Chris Brierley. This life-size character created by Cyber4Schools®  provides the pupils with an appealing, visual reminder of the importance of being safe online. They then enjoyed a range of interactive activities, quizzes and a discussion about how to use mobile devices safely, with some fun facts and videos about staying safe online. They all received personalised certificates at the end of the lesson. 


Media coverage

Cyber4Schools® received lots of media interest on the day. Journalists interviewed the Head of Chosen Hill School, Kirsten Harrison, and talked to the children. They also spoke to Chris Brierley, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire, and Professor Benham. As soon as the press coverage is published we'll post the links here.

This links to the blog post from Gloucestershire's Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner: Cyber4Schools - a lesson in how to keep safe online

On the Heart Gloucestershire News Facebook page they have posted a short video about the Cyber4Schools® pilot. 

Why online safety education for children is important

The learning experience children enjoy nowadays has evolved rapidly, corresponding with the pace of technological change around them. They’re digitally aware, jumping into the latest social media trends and sharing more personal information online than any previous generation. They take advantage of what the Internet has to offer, using it to build on their knowledge and expand their network of friendships. The recently published Digital Childhood Report highlights a rapid increase in the number of young people between 10 and 12 using digital devices. But has their social maturity evolved at the same pace as the technology around them? And do they have the skills and knowledge to understand how to behave and stay safe online?

More and more people, including children, are falling victim to cyberbullying, cybercrime and exploitation. In its 2016–17 Childline annual review, the NSPCC recorded an increase in children and young people talking to Childline about online safety and abuse. Over the year there were more than 12,200 counselling sessions, up 9 per cent on the previous year.

Baroness Beeban-Kidron’s 5Rights Framework, and the Children’s Commissioner in her recent report, Growing up Digital, identified the societal imperative to protect and safeguard our children online. Cyber4Schools® responds to this need, helping 11-year-olds to become informed cybercitizens, essential for a thriving future society and economy.

The pilot in Gloucestershire is the first step towards achieving this. It's important to listen, learn and gather feedback to shape and improve the programme.


Support for the national rollout

We are keen to hear from sponsors and partners who can help us scale the Cyber4Schools programme and are keen for schools to register their interest.  For further information, please contact us on

This holiday season, children all over the country will receive the latest tech gifts, allowing them to browse the Internet, stream videos, play games, share content and connect with friends more easily than ever before. Ci is delighted to be the national partner to the Cyber Trust to deliver Cyber4Schools® at this time, equipping some of these young people with the essential skills they’ll need to keep themselves safe online.

Britain’s big (epistemological) break

Britain’s big (epistemological) break

An epistemic break has gripped the British Isles — a crisis of understanding of what is true, what is false and how we collectively decide.

Modern culture’s greatest institutions — of all four estates — are called into question on a daily basis. The government makes a declaration. A newscaster calls it false. A blogger claims something else. And your Best Facebook Friend says they’re all liars, before adding a new news link.

Whether we call it “computational propaganda”, viral disinformation, or simply “Fake News”, the civil society and its citizens seemingly struggle now more than ever with truth and lies.

Government inquiries into fake news have been launched in several countries, including the UK’s own Parliamentary Select Committee investigation, adding evidence to the prospect of a crisis state. Just consider that according to Demos, 67% of the British public are concerned about fake news.

How did we get here? We propose a few ideas in our own submission to the Select Committee, pointing out that fake news is now one of the most powerful forces countering democracy, that the rise of social media has changed the nature and distribution of real news, and that fake news contributes to radical ideologies that encourage acts of violence, from radical Islam through white nationalism.

We make several recommendations as well, including establishing programmes to promote critical thinking skills around digital and social media, helping citizens separate the truth from the hype.

Was there ever a halcyon time when truth was truth, without dispute? Doubtful. Propaganda has been with us from the beginning of recorded civilisation, but democracy is a process, not a destination — all the more reason that constant vigilance, long-view approaches, and ongoing programmes of media education and literacy are vital to maintaining the interests and ideals of the civil society.

Read Ci’s submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee’s investigation into fake news on our app, The Observatory for a Connected Society.

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