Everton Nursery School and Family Centre: Online Safety Case Study

Everton Nursery School and Family Centre is a unique organisation that encompasses a large Nursery School, Children’s Centre and 0-3’s Daycare provision. The School/Centre is located in an inner city area of Liverpool in the North West of England and works in partnership to support more than 700 families.

Everton sits within a high level of overall deprivation with almost the entire ward (97.6%) falling into the most deprived 5 per cent of neighbourhoods nationally, more than four fifths of the ward (84.5%) being within the most deprived 1 per cent of areas nationally.

At £21,149, the average household income is considerably below the Liverpool average and has declined in the last year. Child poverty levels in the ward are significantly high with more than half of the ward’s children (54.9%, equivalent to 1,715 children) living in poverty.

In 2010, briefings were held by the Local Authority to disseminate information to schools and settings about the E-Safety 360 Tool that many schools could work towards as a form of self-evaluation. The workshops were informative; however the briefings included very little support for Early Years schools/settings due to the tool being designed more specifically for secondary schools and large primary schools. Despite this, a decision was made in 2011 by the School/Centre’s Leadership Team to use the E-Safety 360 Tool framework as a guideline for policy making.

Completing the tool was the responsibility of the ICT Technician/Administrator (now in role as the School/Centre ICT coordinator) to identify the strengths and areas for development for and within the School/Centre.

Governors were involved when completing the tool to ratify any changes to policies with training twilight sessions arranged for all governors in order to raise their E-Safety awareness and to gather feedback from parent governors. This enabled the school to tailor work with parents/carers in order to meet their individual needs and the needs of the community. Initial contact was made with parents via letters; however it was found that as with most forms of paper communication these had limited impact. What worked better given the area that the School/Centre sits within was the use of informal quizzes and questionnaires. These were handed to parents/carers, which in turn created a wonderful informal starting point and included simple questions such as: ‘Do you know what a PEGI rating is?’ and ‘Which of these devices can connect to the internet?’. The use of Social Networks to advertise and promote the School/Centre significantly helped communication with parents/carers. We were able to view statistics on Facebook to see how effective particular messages were and have since integrating other forms of Social Network such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

Staff also engaged within the self-evaluation process, engaging in professional development sessions which focused on updates in policy, technology and social media. The School/Centre had already undertaken a wide range of safeguarding measures such as training for staff and looking at procedures for incidents, which significantly helped to provide a framework to build the School/Centre’s E-safety policy around.

Staff professional dialogue enabled policy review with staff being reminded of what was expected of them, both inside and outside of the workplace in order to safeguard themselves, the children and other stakeholders.

In conclusion, it was found that the E-Safety 360 Tool online self-evaluation form was easy to use and took into account the varying levels of ICT development  for all stakeholders. Such features as report generating became an effective tool to produce data for external means such as School Improvement meetings with Local Authority representatives and during inspections such as Ofsted.

On the other hand however there were elements that did not fit into an Early Years school/setting and so there were always doubts as to whether we had   fulfilled the criteria successfully for certain elements, such as Information Literacy and Pupil Councils.

One year later in October 2012, the School/Centre was inspected for the E-Safety 360 Award. Through self-evaluation and a rigorous assessment, the School/Centre was awarded the 360 degree safe E-Safety Mark.

On reflection, if we were starting our E-Safety journey now, the Online Compass would be a better route to start with as the framework is better suited to an Early Years school/setting.

Everton Nursery School and Family Centre as a whole across each department has benefited significantly from undertaking the E-Safety 360 Tool as we now have a pro-active E-Safe staff team and governing body who undertake an active role in E-Safety. In addition we have parents/carers who fundamentally know that their child/ren are being educated in an E-Safe environment.

Matt Farrell
Everton Nursery School & Family Centre