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June 2004

One Hundred and Sixty Schools and Counting! - Childnet helps schools support both pupils and parents

Childnet’s Kidsmart education and awareness programme for young people and parents continues to expand to meet growing demand. Already with over 1 million leaflets sent out in the UK alone, and approximately 3,000 schools using the leaflets and online resources, Childnet has begun to expand it’s school’s based activity days.

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With funding from Cable & Wireless for a dedicated school’s worker, Childnet is now able to respond to a growing number of requests from schools to run activity days. Since January 2004, Helen Penn, Kidsmart’s outreach worker has run Kidsmart sessions for pupils from over 160 primary and secondary schools in the UK. The days which include interactive lesson plans, assemblies and discussions with pupils and a special evening parent’s seminar have been extremely well received and currently the Childnet team is solidly booked in schools until October 2004.

Richard Jones, a headteacher from Oxfordshire recently wrote,

"We held a Childnet "Kidsmart" activity day at Hagbourne C.E. Primary School which involved the Childnet team from London working with every year group helping them to understand the safety issues and positive uses of the Internet and new technology. We then invited parents to a special evening seminar where we shared what had happened during the school day and Childnet gave very practical advice about young people using applications such as CHAT, Instant Messenger, and Mobiles. I was personally very impressed with the content, the way that the team differentiated the messages to the different age groups and the balanced approach which Childnet took. We were really encouraged at the way that the pupils responded to the issues and the parent's evaluation forms clearly showed the value of the seminar. I would recommend other schools to run a Kidsmart day and help both their pupils and parents. At the end of the day it is clear that children know much more about using these new technologies than we do. So it is vital that we as parents and teachers provide directed questioning in order to try to safeguard our children as they use it. The parent session provide some excellent strategies for doing this."

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Whilst the Childnet team are currently only reaching a fraction of the schools in the country, the daily “grass roots” experience of working with young people and parents in schools is vital and the feedback on how young people are using new technologies and applications such as online music and games is crucial to ensuring that the resources remain up-to-date and relevant. The Childnet team is now working with other agencies to further distribute the resources more widely. For example, as well as going to individual schools in this time, the team have also worked with groups of schools at Junior Citizenship events and Healthy School conferences. Recently the Police in Leicester, Loughborough and Devon & Cornwall have run sessions and want to be trained to run the sessions themselves. The parent’s seminar too is being used more widely by other groups and the team are exploring ways of developing a “train the trainers” approach so that this important resources can be more widely disseminated both in the UK and elsewhere.

The Childnet team are currently also working with MSN to produce a stronger Kidsmart presentation tool for secondary schools. Mary Louise Morris, Childnet’s Education and Awareness Manager says,

“We have seen that the current resources are effective in helping younger children and parents understand the online safety issues and we now want to produce a more hard hitting presentation tool that schools can download free to use with older teens to educate and support them as they use new interactive tools and mobile phones.”

This resource should be ready from September 2004 on the Kidsmart site.

For more information about Kidsmart or to book a Kidsmart activity day please email kidsmart@childnet.com

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