As part of our work in the UK Safer Internet Centre, one of our main projects at Childnet is the Digital Leaders Programme, a youth-led online safety education programme open to all primary and secondary schools.
Students complete online safety modules on an e-learning platform and are then encouraged to spread this knowledge in their schools and communities. Teachers are assigned as Group Leaders and help lead their team of Digital Leaders through their training and beyond!
Many teachers are telling us how it’s the students who are leading the way, with teachers on hand to help if needed. However, when schools subscribe to the programme, whether you are a primary or secondary school, we do advise that each team of Digital Leaders has a designated teacher who will act as a Group Leader.
Recruiting your Digital Leaders
The initial part of your role as a Group Leader will involve recruiting your Digital Leaders. Each Group Leader will go about this in a different way, whether by selecting the students you feel best meet the criteria of a Digital Leader; empathy, interest in technology and good communication skills to name but a few, or advertising the role to students in the form of posters or presentations provided by Childnet once subscribed. It is important students that sign up to the programme are aware of the important role they will play as online safety ambassadors in their school and that they are committed to their role.
Once the students have been recruited, consent forms must be filled in by their parents/carers. When you send these through to the team at Childnet, yourself and your students will be generated logins for the online Digital Leaders platform and be able to access all the modules and resources.
Leading your Digital Leaders through the platform
Your role as a Group Leader will then be to lead your team of Digital Leaders as they progress through the programme completing the modules and activities, earning virtual badges and points along the way. This enables your school to climb up the leaderboard, which ranks all of our international community of Digital Leaders’ schools.
Young people involved in the programme are also encouraged to start discussion threads on the ‘Community’ page of the platform with other Digital Leaders across the UK (Group Leaders can disable this feature for primary school students). Once students complete the seven core modules they become qualified Digital Leaders, and are awarded with a certificate and pin badge to wear with pride.
We have found Group Leaders like to present these awards during assembly or at an end of term prize-giving ceremony. The Digital Leaders work so hard throughout the year and the formal presentation of the certificate is an opportunity for their efforts to be recognised in front of their entire school community.
The children were very empowered and enjoyed being a part of the process. They liked seeing where they scored on the Leaderboard and seeing their badges. The children had great ideas to raise the profile of online safety in school, but this needs to be followed up by individual class teachers to have the best impact. - Teacher
Supporting your qualified Digital Leaders to embed online safety throughout the school community
Once qualified Digital Leaders then have the opportunity to deliver team achievement activities in their schools and local communities, as well as a chance to complete the bonus modules on the platform. Achievement activities include; running an assembly, creating a leaflet for parents and most importantly, using their newly acquired knowledge to run a Digital Leaders training session for other students. Several secondary schools have visited their local feeder primary schools to run a session and inspire the next generation of Digital Leaders.
We encourage Group Leaders to showcase their Digital Leaders teams’ work and achievements with the rest of the school and community, as well as with the Childnet Digital Leaders team. By keeping us informed of your activities through pictures and blogs, we are able to share this content with other schools via the Digital Leaders newsletter and on our website in order to inspire other Digital Leaders groups and the wider public.
The Digital Leaders Team at Childnet will assist you and your team with any queries during the training process.
How does my school get involved?
If you would like to find out more about the Digital Leaders programme and about becoming a Group Leader, you can register your interest to receive a registration pack with further information or contact [email protected]