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. 

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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.

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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 cyber4schools@corshaminstitute.org.

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.