Ormiston Horizon Academy, Stoke

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Ormiston Horizon Academy is the first RM Managed Service School in Stoke to achieve the prestigious E-Safety Mark, awarded by the multi award winning 360 Degree Safe. With ever demanding pressures upon time and resource in schools, Assistant Principal Phil Shufflebotham explains why and how Ormiston Horizon Academy, have prioritised educating its students to use the Internet safely both in and out of school.

Proud and Safe

‘We’re immensely proud to have achieved the E-Safety Mark; it’s the culmination and recognition of the good practice that’s evolved over many years at the academy. Technology plays an important role in the delivery of high quality teaching and learning in the academy. Students have safe access to the Internet in school through our RM network, WiFi and filtering software. As we move more fully into the digital age, students have access to the Internet 24/7.

We need to educate them to be aware of both the benefits and potential risks of the on-line world. That way students can make good use of all the opportunities for learning the Internet offers and are able to make sensible decisions about staying safe and avoiding risks.’

Ormiston Horizon Academy was one of the first schools to engage in the Stoke 360 Degree Safe Project. The project, supported and funded by Stoke LA and RM Education, is open to all Stoke RM Managed Service Schools. ‘Participation has allowed us to benchmark our provision against national expectations of good practice using the on-line 360 Degree Safe Self- Assessment Framework,’ explained Phil.

‘The framework is comprehensive but simple to use. It confirmed that we were already strong in many areas but also helped us to identify aspects where further development was required to achieve the award. The e-Champion CPD session, consultancy, resources and assessment provided free of charge by the project have helped us to enhance our provision and become even stronger.’

Embedded Good Practice

The academy has established a wide range of good practice. It has robust, up-to-date, processes and procedures, which the whole school community are familiar with. Although online safety is part of the Year 7 and 8 Computing Curriculum, educating young people and the wider community to stay safe on line is seen as the responsibility of the whole school, not just the ICT Dept.

Online safety updates are a regular feature of staff development sessions, assemblies and tutor time throughout the year. Horizon’s vertical tutor groups allow older students to lead assemblies on online safety and to mentor younger students within their tutor groups.

As part of Safer Internet Day, students and staff participate in two weeks of activities devoted to raising e-safety awareness during Tutor Time, with a different theme every year.

‘Last year,’ explains Phil, ‘we focussed on cyber bullying. Tutor groups were challenged to produce a video on cyber bullying to educate and entertain. Each tutor group came up with its own ideas from raps to dance, dramas and poetry. These were then showcased as part of an e-safety assembly. This was great fun and great learning.’

The Academy’s public website has a section on online safety with a range of useful resources, guidance and tips and links for students and parents, including a link to Whisper. This is an on-line reporting system, through which students, staff, parents and the community can report issues to the school, with the option to remain anonymous. Whisper is part the Boost e-safety portfolio available, from 360 Degree Safe at an additional cost.

Key Benefits & Top Tips

Asked what the key developments were in the Academy’s approach as a result of participation in the 360 Degree Safe Project, Phil identified a number of initiatives. ‘Responsibility for e-safety has moved to a wider group within school. An e-safety council with representatives from the staff, students, parents and governors now meets regularly to review provision and to advise on developments. Involving the wider group,’ explains Phil, ‘It has meant that we have benefitted from a range of experiences, perceptions and opinions in developing our approaches and policies.

Regular safety council meetings will mean that our approaches will stay ahead of the game. Our staff students and governors were all able to respond to questions on e-safety by Ofsted inspectors during our recent inspection knowledgably and confidently.’

Asked what advice he would offer to other school, Phil suggested the following. ‘My top tips would be that it’s not as onerous as you might think, initially, and it’s well worth doing. Get a team together, willing to work for you and with you and delegate. Keep a folder of the evidence that you create for the award as a resource for use in school and as good evidence for an Ofsted Inspection. As luck would have it we had an Ofsted Inspection during the same week as our E-Safety Mark assessment visit so the folder proved very useful!’

Our warm congratulations go to Phil and the staff students and governors at Horizon Academy for their fantastic achievement.

"Students have a good understanding of how to keep themselves safe because they learn the dangers of drug abuse and the Internet across many subjects." Ofsted, July 2014

Shirley Robinson and Katrina Hay