Education Minister Michelle McIlveen has launched a new app for schools to safeguard children and young people when online.
The Safer Schools NI app is a one-stop-shop digital library of age-appropriate safeguarding resources for teachers, parents/carers and children and young people.
The app, designed and created by online safeguarding experts, INEQE Safeguarding Group, also provides a digital safeguarding communication toolkit helping schools engage with their entire communities.
Launching the app at INEQE headquarters, Michelle McIlveen said: “I am pleased to launch the Safer Schools NI app today, which will help ensure online safety for young people.
“In today’s society our children and young people are spending more time using digital devices. As the lines between their lives offline and online become more blurred, it is important for all of us in education to make online safeguarding a priority.”
The Safer Schools NI app is customised for each school, meaning teachers and staff will find their own school news feed with the essential updates and information they need, as well as a calendar to keep track of important dates.
The Minister continued: “The digital world can be a great place to chat with friends, family, play games and learn. However, there are also risks and this app is designed to provide protection from potential harm. I want young people to learn how to protect themselves from those risks and know what to do if something goes wrong online.
“I encourage all schools, parents and carers to download and make use of this free app. Keeping our children safe and ensuring their mental health & wellbeing is looked after has never been more important.”
Users of Safer Schools NI also get access to the Teach and Home Learning Hubs where there’s a wealth of resources and lessons for teachers, parents and carers. There’s also training available on desktop devices through iAcademy, for school staff and for pupils.
Jim Gamble, Chief Executive of INEQE Safeguarding Group said: “The Safer Schools NI app is full of useful information to help educate, empower and protect school staff, parents and carers and pupils.
“School staff can access contemporary safeguarding information and a range of resources relating to safeguarding in the context of social media, including digital imagery, bullying, sexting and gaming. Parents and carers can access information on the popular social media platforms used by their children
“The pupils’ app is split into primary and post primary versions which provide access to age-appropriate information, advice and guidance on how to be safer online. Topics include image sharing, bullying, how to manage personal information and privacy considerations.
“As the founding CEO of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, I know that balancing the opportunities and safeguarding challenges in the digital environment is never easy. That is why this initiative is so important. When building the app, we have taken account of best practice for teaching online safety in schools, the developing Online Harms Bill and critically have mapped the content to the Online Safety Strategy for Northern Ireland.
“Download the app and no matter who you are you’ll be better equipped to play your part in making our children safer.”
The Safer Schools NI app is free to download at the App store and Google Play stores for teachers, parents/carers and children & young people. Schools can access the Schools Registration link and download the app link to the App and Google Play stores here: www.saferschoolsni.co.uk