Q&A with Childnet Education Manager, Caroline Hurst.

Posted on 24 April 2014

We caught up with Childnet Education Manager, Caroline Hurst, to find out what happens at a Childnet Education Visit. 

What is the aim of an education visit for school pupils?

Education visits are for children and young people between the ages of 3 – 18, and also for parents/carers and teachers/professionals. We talk to these audiences about using the internet safely, and how important it is to protect young people against some of the dangers online. We like to take a balanced approach to everything we talk about in terms of staying safe online. During every presentation we highlight the positive uses of the internet, and in turn we like to harness a young person’s enthusiasm towards something so fantastic such as the internet.

What e-safety topics do you cover?

The topics vary in terms of the age group that we are speaking to. In Key Stage One, we begin by talking about the message ‘Tell Someone’. Making sure that young people learn about the importance of telling an adult if anything happens to them online which could upset them eg. receiving a message from a stranger, what to do if a pop-up appears etc. In Key Stage Two, we introduce the SMART rules. Every letter of SMART stands for something different, and they are basic rules to keep young people safe online. Once we reach secondary school, in Key Stage Three we introduce teenagers to the idea of a digital footprint, educating them about how they are never anonymous when it comes to their online behavior. We talk to them about key internet safety risks such as cyberbullying, illegal downloading, social networking sites, sexting etc. In Key Stage Four and Five, we discuss a young person’s online reputation. Making sure they have a positive reputation online. It’s common practice nowadays for future employers and university admissions tutors to search for young people online. Making sure that they never have any negative content online, which could hinder them from getting a job or excelling in the future.

What happens at a parents’ session?

The parents’ session consists of a presentation entitled ‘Supporting Young People Online’. We want to leave parents with the knowledge about how to protect young people online and we empower them with take home advice to implement into their children’s online lives. We cover issues such as the positive use of the internet - exploration of websites and applications that offer opportunities to discover, connect and create (this includes a beginner’s guide to Social Networking Sites - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc).  We talk through the potential misuse of the technologies and how children and young people can be vulnerable to inappropriate content, conduct and contact risks. We discuss cyberbullying and show the parents a powerful film called, Let’s Fight it Together’. It has been produced by Childnet and is used to help sensitise young people and adults to the pain and hurt which can be caused through cyberbullying.

What do you enjoy most about the Education Visits?

One of my favourite things about an education visit, is one of the first questions I ask to a group of young people is ‘What are your favourite websites and what do you love to do online’? This question creates so much energy in the room, and immediately the young people are discussing what they love most about the internet. I will never, ever get bored of that question because their responses are always so enthusiastic and it’s so great to see and be a part of that energy! The other thing I love about the education visits, are the questions the young people ask. There are always so many questions at the end of the presentation, and it just shows what an important topic it is for young people, and how imperative it is for them to discuss the risks.

What are your favourite websites and what do you love to do online?

I love how the internet makes my life so easy. I’m a keen theatregoer, so following my favourite London theatres on Twitter makes sure I get the best last minute deals to see wonderful shows. At the moment, my favourite services are Instagram, The Guardian and Citymapper (an app on my iPhone which shows me how best to get from A to B).

How can schools book an Education Visit?

If you are interested in having a member of the education team come and visit your school or organisation, then please do send an email to [email protected].

 At the moment we are booked up until October 2014, so do start thinking ahead to when the best time will be for Childnet to come and run some sessions with your young people, teachers and/or parents.


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