Online safety support and accreditation for European schools
In every country, young people are carrying with them increasingly powerful access devices and are linking to social network sites, building their own online communities and creating and sharing content. Schools and parents cannot impose all-encompassing restrictions on the use of technology in order to protect young people.
The eSafety Label
To provide practical solutions to this challenge, European Schoolnet has set up the ‘eSafety Label', a European-wide accreditation and support service for schools. This represents a major step forward in the drive to develop and maintain high standards of eSafety. It includes:
Schools can review their own eSafety practices against internationally-agreed standards. When they put forward evidence of their practice, they can be accredited as an eSafety-certified school. On completion of the self-assessment process, they will receive a personalised action plan to enable them to develop further their level of eSafety practice. They can also see where their school stands compared to other schools in their own country and abroad.
The portal provides schools with an ever-growing set of resources: eSafety advice and guidance, fact sheets, checklists and templates.
Users and experts exchange tips, resources, advice and information on eSafety issues, help each other and share examples of effective practice.
The eSafety Label is a multi-stakeholder project which has come about because a number of leading companies (Kaspersky Lab, Liberty Global, Microsoft, Telefonica) and European Education Ministries (Belgium-Flanders, Italy and Portugal) recognised the growing needs of schools for assistance and decided to join forces with European Schoolnet to address the gap. The consortium has been supported in its actions through Ministries of Education and educational organisations in Austria, Estonia and Spain and is extending into more and more European countries.
The research programme
Before starting development, extensive research was carried in different countries, including Austria, Belgium-Flanders, Estonia, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the UK. The countries were chosen to guarantee good representation of high to low technology schools and varying eSafety legislative and pedagogical frameworks. The research included extensive desktop research and stakeholder interviews.
In February 2012, European Schoolnet published a report describing the research phase and the specific design process of the portal, which took place in June to December 2011.
The pilot programme
The project was officially launched on Safer Internet Day 2012 (7 February) and followed by a two-year pilot programme in which schools tested the platform and the increasing number of features and language versions. The schools' feedback shaped the nature of the eSafety Label services offered to schools and, in particular, the assessment and accreditation tool. The result was a need for a personalised Action Plan, which schools can download after completing the Assessment Form and which helps them to understand their current eSafety status, and the key areas that they can improve on. The eSafety Label has been shaped to tie in with existing initiatives on both a national and regional level across Europe.