The mediation of online safeguarding by primary school teachers: perspectives from students completing a PGCE programme

Wood, Ruth and Atkinson, Shirley (2011) The mediation of online safeguarding by primary school teachers: perspectives from students completing a PGCE programme. In: EU Kids Online; 22-23 Sep 2011, London, U.K.. (Unpublished)


Previous research has shown that schools are the focal points for delivering the online safety messages. Parents would prefer to get their information from the school, children turn to their parents for advice and so a chain builds resulting in reliance on the education practitioner. The degree to which the educational practitioner promotes safe online behaviour will be influenced not only by their own perceptions, actions and experiences but by the materials and support they find around them. Children are going online much earlier, yet the focus of much previous research has been upon secondary schools. Gaps have been identified in understanding about primary school pupils and teachers engagement with the e-safety field. This research has a focus on the gap identified with regard to the primary education practitioner. As part of a Teaching Development Agency research package a cohort of PGCE primary students were surveyed to gain an insight into their knowledge, understanding and experiences of online risks. The online survey was the preliminary element of a set of evaluation activities centered on a Childnet KnowItAll resource. The survey responses were coded against the EU Kids Online risk taxonomy. It was clear that the key perception of online risk was of the child as a recipient of sexual or aggressive categories of risk. 62% of the risks identified considered the risks to be that of being bullied, meeting strangers and grooming with only 17% considering content issues such as viewing pornographic or violent content. What became evident was a lack of awareness of e-security issues such as problems from spam, advertising and illegal downloads. Of the students 90% held some form of online profile with Facebook being the most popular. A minority held multiple profiles with other social networking sites. EU Kids Online 2 Final Conference – September 2011 However, of those students 90% took steps to protect their profile with 75% of those relying on technology measures to provide that protection and only 25% placing controls on their own behaviour. When considering the protection mechanisms available to protect children in the primary setting the reliance on technological protection was high with the majority stating that blocking and filtering were the key elements of protection, rather than education. What emerges from these findings is a need to widen the education element for trainee teachers so that all the areas of risk are covered. Additionally, awareness of the limitations of technology to provide protection should be factored in with education about changing behaviour alongside the current educational focus.

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