Online safety roundup February 2021 – useful resources, events coming up and conference report!

Successes during this period of remote and blended learning

On 2 February we were delighted to host our annual Online Safety conference, this year virtually, of course. It was interesting to think back to last year when Sarah’s keynote at our centre was on the theme of being fearless with digital learning. How schools and teachers and families have taken up that call during the demands of the current period! 

What came out of a calm moment of reflection at the start of this year’s conference – accompanied by relaxing music, with annotations over Zoom shared slides – was multi-faceted:

“Virtual parents evenings have been a great success; increased engagement of parents with phonics teaching; getting to know parents better; younger children’s mouse skills improving; digital literacy of pupils and staff improving – and becoming a self-appointed “Loom master” (a great way to maintain teacher presence virtually)!

How do we know what and who to trust?

Picking up this month’s Safer Internet Day theme (more on that below) of exploring reliability in the online world, our first speaker Josie gave an illuminating tour of initiatives and programming from the BBC to combat the spread of disinformation. Josie Verghese is an active partner in, and contributor to the News Literacy Network that we’ve mentioned elsewhere. As assistant editor for BBC News and head of BBC Young Reporter, she was well placed to speak about raising the news awareness and skills of children and young people (such as understanding trusted sources and spotting misleading or dishonest information – directly relevant to schools and the curriculum). She also spoke in terms of adult news literacy, perceptions and understanding. This is of great relevance to all of us, particularly at a time of pandemic when we need accurate and reliable information and to be aware of such influencing factors as confirmation bias and the impact of social media.

Among the useful sites she highlighted were:

BBC Young Reporter

BBC iReporter

BBC Bitesize Fact or Fake

BBC Beyond Fake News

BBC Reality Check

The BBC Trusted News Initiative

BBC Ideas: Truth, trust and ‘fake news’ playlist

She also reminded us of the value of Ofcom’s Making Sense of the Media portal for research and data about the habits and critical understanding of users of digital media – adult and child. If that’s something you’re interested in (it could even inform discussions with your own class about what children and young people nationally are doing), you might like to dip into Ofcom’s interactive dashboard, which is a convenient way to access its current regular pandemic related research.

Children’s, families’ and our own sense of wellbeing and mental health

Our second speaker, Lucy Hynard from Parent Zone, picked up the closely related theme of children’s and young people’s mental health, and knowing who to turn to (important for all aspects of online safety). Lucy is responsible for the development of the Ollee app, which receives funding through Children in Need. Although we mentioned Ollee when the app and support hub site were launched back in the autumn, this was the first chance for delegates to really get to grips with the full range of what Ollee has to offer and to hear about its impact so far and plans for further development over the coming two years. 

Here’s a quick round up of some of the statistics Lucy was able to share with us around impact:

In answer to the question ‘has being in contact with Ollee changed how you feel or think about things’, the top five responses were:

  • I know where to go for help with my problems 39%
  • I am in a better mood 36%
  • I feel more calm 32%
  • I am happier about things 31%
  • I try to work out my problems by talking about them 31%


  • Ollee has had more than 6,000 users since it launched in October
  • Ollee has been customised 17,602 times (and rising)
  • Most popular emotions chosen by users of Ollee – equal top: Sad 19% Happy 19% followed by Worried 17%, Stressed 13%, Confused 12%, Angry 12%, Frustrated 8%

It was great to see that at the end of the conference many attendees noted that following up on Ollee with colleagues was an action they were planning.

If you’re interested in finding out more, Parent Zone have recently published this article on how Ollee has been used to date.

We plan to feature work with Josie and Lucy on our BlendEd blended learning resource platform soon, picking up the key points around digital critical awareness, wellbeing and mental health when so much of life for many families is being lived online.

Incidentally, Children’s Mental Health week runs 1 to 7 February and includes a virtual assembly with BAFTA and Oak National Academy. On the website there are free resources that can be adapted for use in school, for home-schooling, online lessons or independent learning, with nothing to stop schools scheduling activity and focus over a longer period of time than this current week.

Useful external resources and context

The conference ‘read, reflect and discuss’ workshop highlighted very briefly some important recent reports, blogs and useful resources, as well as mentioning our updated online safeguarding overview, which is available on our BlendEd website. All are worth a quick glance if you have time and show how vast this whole area is becoming and some of the nuances. These ranged from the latest information about the proposed Online Harms legislation from the government, to resources for teaching about understanding and minimising the risks of, as well as making the most of the benefits of live streaming, and some advice for parents.

Useful links:

Regulating Online Harms:

House of Commons briefing and overview page

Government Fact sheet

CEOP resources

CEOP Thinkuknow live streaming guide

#WhoIsSAM Online contact and reporting to CEOP animation for adults

#LiveSkills: resources (CEOP) for 8-18year olds

LSE blogs: (all short reads)

Cliff Manning – digital resilience framework

Dongmiao Zhang and Sonia Livingstone – accounting for parental support for children’s learning online

Gianfranco Polizzi – Children flourishing in the digital age: redesigning and regulating the online environment

BBC News article 27 January Social media damages teenagers mental health

Internet Matter Inclusive Digital Safety Hub

LGfL July 2020 edit of Safeblog post: reminder to think twice before passing on ‘scare alerts’ to parents

Opportunity now and next week – and beyond

After that we delved a little deeper into what’s on offer from the UK Safer Internet Centre for this year’s Safer Internet Day, considering the remote context, and how teachers might want to adapt or select from the available resources (our SLA partner schools: please get in touch if you wish to know about our bespoke resources available to you). 

In addition to what we covered in the session, here’s a Safer Internet Day 

rundown courtesy of the UK Safer Internet Centre Safer Internet Day newsletter:

Don’t forget there’s still a chance to register your school or organisation as a supporter of Safer Internet Day at

On 9 February you can watch live events, listed at

These include: 

1:30pm     Safer Internet Day with Liverpool FC with a talk for young people around the theme of reliability online

4:00pm     Safer Internet Day Live Q & A with UKSIC Helpline (an event aimed at teachers and other professionals)

In advance of the date, or whenever it suits you and your school or organisation, you can:

  • Take the Safer Internet Day Quiz – great for adults to check their knowledge too!
  • Download and distribute to colleagues the remote learning education packs and watch the Safer Internet Day Films here.
  • Get involved with promoting messages to the community and your families using the ready-made assets in the Stakeholder social media pack 
  • Consider and highlight the top tips for 3-7s , 7-11s, 11-18s, and parents and carers here
  • Use the hashtags #SaferInternetDay and #AnInternetWeTrust on social media

Find out more about the Guinness World Record attempt at ‘Most online pledges received for an internet safety campaign in 24 hours’. To find out more register your interest on the supporters registration form

The final session of the conference allowed delegates to plan actions for now and the future, which included:

  • “Share Ollee details will parents and all teachers throughout the school”
  • “Discuss with headteacher how to engage parents remotely with safer internet resources”
  • “Implement a plan for pupils and parents around online safety”
  • “Ensure a wide range of SID activities this term”
  • “Virtual assemblies from teachers or SLT”

We hope you’ll make great use of the resources linked here and, if we’ve whetted your appetite for a CLC online safety conference, don’t miss the next one! We hold them twice a year, with the next one planned for the autumn.

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