Feb 2019 – Scottish schools are set to be at the forefront of the fight against cyber bullying and the exploitation of young people online, as a world-leading initiative is unveiled by the Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd, on ‘Safer Internet Day’ (5 February 2019.)

Designed to provide education professionals with the resources and support required to help pupils safely navigate the digital world, the Special Recognition Badge for Cyber Resilience and Internet Safety is the only programme of its kind being delivered in the UK. The framework has been developed by Digital Schools Awards in partnership with Education Scotland and the Child Protection Unit and has the backing of major tech companies HP, Microsoft and Intel. The initiative is also supported by Police Scotland.

Officially launched at the Young Scot ‘DigiKnow?’ event in the Dundee Science Centre, the stand-alone badge will be available to all schools that demonstrate a strategic approach to cyber resilience and internet safety. The initiative follows the successful integration of the Digital Schools Awards programme in primary and secondary schools throughout Scotland, which encourages a whole-school approach to digital learning.

Online platforms are becoming increasingly accessible to young people, with as many as one in four children aged 8-11 operating their own social media profiles. As the internet becomes further integrated into everyday life, it is vital that schools provide pupils with the knowledge and confidence needed to operate online.

Through practical support and access to resources the programme will encourage an open dialogue amongst teachers and pupils on issues of cyber safety. It will help participants to identify online risks; and stress the importance of building strong cyber hygiene habits and practices.  Schools are also encouraged to put in place measures such as counselling for children who are affected by their exposure to social media.

Maree Todd, Scottish Minister for Children and Young People, said: “The proliferation of the internet and advances in digital technologies have brought around much positive change. But in an age where mobile technologies are integrated into almost every aspect of our lives, ensuring young people enjoy a positive experience online needs to be a top priority.

“This is the first initiative of its kind to be delivered in Scotland, that supports teachers with information and practical resources. By doing so we are better equipping them to educate pupils on the benefits and potential dangers of the internet. A multi-agency approach which sees Scottish Government bodies working in partnership with industry, means the programme is well placed to support teachers to implement strategies in schools.”

George Brasher, Managing Director of HP UK and Ireland, said: “Keeping young people safe online has never been more important. Through this initiative, HP is proud to support schools in ensuring that young people grow up in a culture where staying safe online is as natural to them as any other aspect of their digital lives.”

To attain a Special Recognition Badge for Cyber Resilience and Internet Safety schools must complete a self-assessment to identify their expertise. Where gaps in the knowledge exist, Digital Schools Awards will provide the necessary guidance to achieve accreditation. The award also helps schools obtain the requirements of the Cyber Resilience Strategy for Scotland and draws on the National Action Plan and other important strategies.

To find out more, schools are encouraged to visit www.digitalschoolsawards.co.uk.