Kyle Academy pupils lead way to build safer online communities

Published 12 December 2014

First year pupils at an Ayrshire school are leading the way in online safety and making sure their parents are clued up too.

The young people at Kyle Academy have been taking part in a new 12 week course developed by their computing teacher in partnership with Police Scotland.

The groundbreaking project covered topics such as online personal security, cyber bullying, online grooming, social network safety and many others.

Recognising that many parents, grandparents and carers do not understand the modern virtual world in which young people now live – and the dangers they can face online – the pupils were also encouraged to raise these issues with them as part of homework assignments.

Not only did this help increase awareness of what the young people were doing, who they were talking to and what they were sharing - it also helped their parents, grandparents and carers understand some of the virtual dangers they could face, helping to reduce their own vulnerability online.

Over the last three months, the school’s younger generation has led from the front, helping to educate their loved ones by introducing them to social media, email and online shopping – just in time for Christmas!

Councillor Margaret Toner, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Lifelong Learning said: “Modern technology is second nature for our young people and plays an increasingly important part in the school curriculum.

“This initiative is an excellent way of harnessing all that is good about the online world, in a way that keeps young people safe and secure.

“By then making them the teachers for the generations above, for whom technology can seem new-fangled and daunting, family members get a much better understanding of how best to use it in a constructive and meaningful way.”

Detective Superintendent Steven Wilson, Head of Cybercrime for Police Scotland said: “Police Scotland’s key objective is to keep our communities safe. We recognise that individuals spend a large proportion of their time in the online world and it’s critical that children are made aware of the risks.

“Instilling good practice at a young age will make children less vulnerable to some of those risks, and at the same time, empower them to share this knowledge with members of their family who may also be vulnerable.“We are proud that the course we helped develop has been successfully trialled by Kyle Academy and hopefully many more pupils and their families will benefit from it in the future.”

To mark the success of the initiative, a special assembly took place at Kyle Academy where all young people who completed the programme were presented with a ‘Police Scotland Cyber Security Certificate’ as a record of their achievement.

Councillor Toner concluded: “What a fantastic initiative the cyber safety programme was and the support from Police Scotland has been outstanding.

“The feedback has been superb with many adults telling us it was refreshing to be taught by a young person, especially when it was a member of their own family.

“It’s been a brilliant success and I’m keen for the impetus it has generated to be maintained at Kyle Academy – and possibly rolled out to other schools across South Ayrshire – and, I hope, the rest of Scotland!”

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