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 answers to this challenge, European Schoolnet has set up the ‘eSafety Label’, a European-wide accreditation and support service for schools - a major step forward in the drive to develop and maintain high standards of eSafety. Currently in development, its key elements will include:
Schools will be able to 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 suggested action plan to enable them to develop further their levels of eSafety practice.
The portal will provide schools with an ever-growing set of resources: eSafety advice and guidance, lesson plans and policies with updates on national strategies and other key developments. It will also host an online community of users and experts who can 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.
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 launched on Safer Internet Day 2012 (7 February), the pilot programme continues to run until Safer Internet Day 2013. This phase helps shape the nature of the eSafety services to be provided to schools. Schools have the opportunity to test the prototype portal and the new assessment and accreditation model. This will assist them in determining both their current eSafety status, and the key areas that they can improve on. The programme is shaped to tie in with existing initiatives already in place on both a national and regional level across Europe.
Find out more by downloading the project leaflet.