April 2018

The know zone

  • Bold fashion statement
    Reckoning that pupils who sported designer handbags could be less likely to succeed than their purse-free peers, one headteacher describes what led to her decision to de-accessorise in the classroom. More
  • Un-social media?
    With more and more social media platforms becoming available, and with the rise in the number of news reports on how social media is affecting children's mental health and wellbeing, we asked ASCL members to share their thoughts on this. More
  • Leaders' surgery
    Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting. More
  • Empower yourself
    Val Andrew explores the theme for this year's ASCL School Business Leaders' Conference - 'Empowering Agile Leadership'. More
  • Next steps to higher learning
    Schools now have a statutory duty to allow further education (FE) colleges and other providers on to their premises to talk to their pupils. Here, Kevin Gilmartin examines the so-called 'Baker clause'. More
  • Pregnancy and maternity
    We have seen an increase in member queries on pregnancy and maternity, but before you stop reading, thinking, "This so isn't for me," says Sara Ford, please be aware that the issues being raised need to be understood by anyone managing staff. More
  • Speak up
    We must start talking more about SEND funding and stop using the complexity of this provision as a barrier for not doing so, says Julia Harnden. More
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With more and more social media platforms becoming available, and with the rise in the number of news reports on how social media is affecting children’s mental health and wellbeing, we asked ASCL members to share their thoughts on this

Un-social media?

Digital Leaders

Educating students about the internet becomes increasingly challenging due to the ever-changing nature of technology itself. This has influenced us to feel that students themselves need to be part of leading e-safety education. This year, at our college, we launched the Digital Leaders Programme from Childnet International (http://www.childnet.com/our-projects/childnet-digital-leaders-programme). After an application process, we now have a team of nine students to become Digital Leaders. Using a flipped learning format, students complete online modules independently and then meet up as a team to consolidate learning and plan next steps on how to implement this support across the college. The aim of this is to increase their e-safety knowledge and therefore build confidence about ‘being online’. This is a great way for students to take ownership of their own digital learning. Our first module is underway and we are looking forward to seeing how it goes. Chloe Lewis

Religious Studies Teacher, Linton Village College, Cambridge

Move with the times

Social media is not ‘positive’ nor is it ‘negative’ any more than the printing press was. Historians can easily make links to previous ages resisting the democratisation of reading or the availability of scripture in the vernacular and track similar levels of moral panic. Social media is undoubtedly a seismic shift in the way that we communicate. Schools need to readjust to this new reality. History is full of people bemoaning changes that are utterly irresistible.

Effective, nice people – students, parents and teachers – use social media well but they also navigate the complex shoals of social intercourse and relationships well. Ineffective, mean people – students, parents and teachers – do not manage to navigate this in real life either and can be appalling online.

Where schools can really make a difference is by adjusting spiritual, moral, social and cultural development (SMSC)/personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) to include a hefty dose of digital citizenship. When we stop talking about digital citizenship or putting ‘e’ in front of learning to indicate its otherness, then we will know that we have gone some way towards sorting out some of social media’s negatives.

As deputy to a head who is terrified of social media and can only see the negatives, I see the short-sightedness of this approach up close. The way that the world communicates has moved, and schools need to move with it. In my opinion, many schools are a long, long way behind in both policy and practice.

(Name and details supplied)

All the world’s a stage

I took over managing the school Twitter account in October. Governors and a few parents actively followed us, but the students soon told me “no one uses Twitter”.

At their request, I set up a school Instagram account for pictures of school life (all with permission). About 250 students and families follow, with in the region of 50 regularly ‘liking’ and occasionally commenting. Competitions like ‘guess the Macbeth quote’ have been popular.

I do it all on my phone and it doesn’t take long. So far, a positive use of social media for the school.

Madeleine Fresko-Brown
Assistant Head Teacher, Northwood School, London

Adults must moderate

Each generation will develop new habits, but the adults must moderate young people’s behaviour and protect their wellbeing. Social media has many positive uses, socially, at work and in education, but it also has too many dangers. Alongside all of the work that we do on appropriate use of social media and keeping yourself safe, we have begun to try to re-educate our students in reducing mobile phone dependency. A complete ban on their use or visibility during the school day as opposed to tolerance as long as they didn’t disrupt lessons, has seen a refreshing increase in students looking at one another and having conversations during lunchtimes. That’s healthy. We are also working with a number of parents to support them in restricting technology access times for children. When a Year 9 boy falls fast asleep in school because he regularly messages friends until 4am, that’s unhealthy.

(Headteacher from the East Midlands)