Education Minister Michelle McIlveen launched the Safer Schools NI app, which is a ‘one-stop-shop’ digital library of resources for teachers, parents/carers and children. It also provides a digital safeguarding communication toolkit to help schools engage with their 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 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.”
Each school will be able to view their own customised news feed with all the information and updates the staff and teachers need as well as a calendar for important dates. Teachers, parents and carers get access to resources and lessons while there is also training through iAcademy on desktop for school staff and 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.”