For the first time in four years, Harrow HK was able to hold its annual Internet Safety Week face-to-face with pupils – which is why the school wanted to make it bigger than ever!
The event ran from 6 to 10 February, and its theme of “Want to Talk about It?” was prompted by the substantial increase in device usage among pupils in the past few years. The Harrow team was keen to create a platform to discuss the issues that matter to pupils and to share their experiences or concerns.
Pupils across the school have access to devices on a daily basis. In an ever-evolving digital world, they need to be equipped with the skills to not only survive and be safe in this world but to thrive within it, in a safe, age-appropriate way. Staff at Harrow HK know they have a responsibility as educators to foster those skills. “We’re teaching our pupils the huge benefits that technology has on their lives and the possibilities it can lead to for them. Developing their digital awareness is vital for them to imagine their future endeavours and what they could aspire to.”
To this end, during Internet Safety Week, the pupils applied their digital skills to promote safety online. From digital storybooks to collecting data on online trends across the school, creating webpages, greenscreen movies and stop motion animations, they showcased their knowledge of online safety in creative, fun and engaging ways.
The whole school, from K2 to Year 13, was heavily involved in the week of activities. In particular, the Upper School pupils took a leadership role and supported the Lower School pupils across various sessions, performances and activities, taking responsibility to care for and support the younger grades.
Harrow says that this involvement across the school generated the kinds of conversations that give everyone a platform to share experiences and understand what to do in certain situations.
“For example, our Year 5 Digital Leaders ran a digital helpdesk, designing posters and activities to promote the issues at hand. There was a small fair in Upper School on Internet Safety Day itself, where pupils could visit a ‘Fortune Teller’ and determine how well they manage their online footprint, while Senior School debaters argued the motion ‘This House regrets the rise of social media as the primary news outlet’.”
The Wellbeing Ambassadors were also kept busy. “They organised a rotation of 10 activities for our Year 2 pupils to engage in, including discussions, role plays and scenario-based problems. And they highlighted how technology can help the school community, asking for recommendations of apps and websites that encourage greater wellbeing – this list is being collated and will be sent to pupils soon. Year 7 and Year 8 pupils, meanwhile, continued looking at how we communicate our life online in their Digital Literacy lessons.”
Parents taking part
The team was also keen to engage parents. “For us, parents play a crucial role in empowering and supporting children to use digital technologies responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively. This has a long-lasting impact on children’s safety and wellbeing in the online world.”
During the week, Abi Hiley, Assistant Head of the Lower School, and Dr Rachel Gregory, the Harrow psychologist, ran webinars for parents to further equip them with strategies to support their children in this.
One initiative involving pupils and parents alike was the “cookie swap” on 7 February, which was this year’s Online Safety Day. The school posed a question to the pupils: “Accept all Cookies?” Pupils then received a fortune cookie with a series of online safety tips inside, which they took home for further discussion with their parents.
It was a fun but meaningful highlight of a week that had many highlights, as Harrow sought to develop its culture of online safety, equipping pupils with the critical life and digital skills needed in our digital world.
This article first appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.