Primary school teacher writes about the Digital Leaders who are making a difference in his school

Posted on 23 March 2018

Dan Everest who runs the Childnet Digital Leaders Programme at King’s Ely Junior School gives his tips on being a group leader and shares how the programme has helped promote online safety in school.

Delivered as part of our work in the UK Safer Internet Centre, the Childnet Digital Leaders Programme aims to empower children and young people to champion digital citizenship and creativity within their schools and to educate their peers, parents and teachers about staying safe online. 

What are your top tips for other Digital Leaders group leaders?

  • Make sure potential DLs know the commitment level of the post. When training my DLs, they had to give up one lunchtime each week for a term. Once trained I would try and meet my DLs fortnightly depending on the activities I had for them.
  • Pick a variety of students. I tried hard to get an equal balance of boys and girls in each year group.
  • Students don’t have to be experts in computing to be a DL.
  • Be organised, I now have 40 DLs to keep track of. Keeping lists of who has completed different modules of training is important. Who is presenting which subject to which class etc.
  • Listen to your DLs. I have found out a lot more about digital use at school through my DLs.
  • Recognise your DLs. My DLs are introduced in our whole school assembly as well as having their pictures up on display so that students know who they can chat to.
  • Rewards your DLs. At the end of the school year the DLs have a pizza party as a thank you for their hard work.

What would you say to someone who was thinking of signing up to the Digital Leaders Programme?

If you are thinking of signing up to the DLs programme, I would most definitely recommend it. Working with my DLs always brings a smile to my face because of their commitment and passion they bring to the role. They want to help their peers, they go out of their way to support safer digital use. I find when hearing the safer digital use message from their peers, students are more receptive to it. Being in a school of nearly 400 students, my DLs are a vital support network for me in promoting and supporting students in their digital lives. My DLs also advise me about the latest apps and games being used in school - turns out Facebook is not the most popular app!

What have your Digital Leaders enjoyed most about the experience?

I get the impression that my DLs have enjoyed the whole journey of becoming one. They really enjoy going into other classrooms and presenting to students. For Safer Internet Day, DLs went into our Year 3-6 classrooms to present information about staying safer online. I had groups of DLs practicing using IWBs and their presentations for several weeks before the big day.  The DLs were so excited when I announced our Digital Picnic events and that they were going to be running information stalls. Already I have had the students in most lunchtimes working on the material they are going to present.

Digital Leaders 2.0 

After the success of last year’s Digital Leaders in Year 5 and 6 we wanted to mirror the success with Years 4 and 6 giving us leader coverage for Years 4-8.  We paired our new recruits with mentors who will act as guides for their training and beyond.

Digital Picnic

In January we welcomed Professor Emma Bond into school. She gave a presentation to parents on the digital dangers facing the students. Listening to the conversations afterwards between the parents and Professor Bond, parents wanted to know what to do next to help keep their children safer. From this the Digital Picnic was born. The idea is to share with the parents what we do with the students and then share digital parenting ideas as a group. Half way through the students will join their parents giving them both time to discuss digital matters. Parents and children will then be free to visit the stalls run by our DLs to receive information of certain APPs and games that are commonly used at school. Parents can also chat with teachers as well. We have planned 2 picnics, one for Years 3-5, the other for Years 6-8. Why a picnic? Well, the events are planned for May and we thought it would be a comfortable and hopefully fun setting for discussions.

If you would like to know more about the Childnet Digital Leaders Programme then register your interest and we can send you a pack with more information. 

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