Send in the e-Cadets! Making Kids Responsible for e-Safety

I came across the eCadets scheme recently, and mentioned it in the special e-safety edition of Digital Education. I thought it sounded very interesting. With schools looking for more sustainable eSafety solutions I caught up with the co-founder of the innovative eCadet scheme, Henry Platten, to find out how to create a lasting eSafety legacy in your school. Ever come across those schools where the e-safety “policy” consists of a Local Authority template with the blanks filled in with the school’s name, and stuck in the bottom of a filing cabinet in the headteacher’s office? Well, the e-Cadets scheme aims to change all that by giving the children themselves responsibility.

The award-winning eCadets is the UK’s first structured eSafety scheme which empowers pupils from 3-18 years old to help their classmates stay safe online.

Some of the e-Cadets in action (photo used with permission of the eCadets scheme

Since launching on Safer Internet Day 2014 the scheme has reached more the 183,260 people, with eCadet schools in 34 counties in the UK and now in countries including Australia, Singapore and New Zealand. It has also won the prestigious Nominet award for Making the Internet a Safer Place.

It was created by former Police Sergeant Henry Platten and his wife Danielle Platten (who has a background in managing the legal issues from social media for large businesses). Henry said the success of the scheme is down to the unique way it empowers children.

“The eCadet scheme sees a team of pupils at a school receive structured training, on-going support and access to a wealth of knowledge through our instant messenger service. The pupils who become eCadets are amazing! They make a huge difference to the lives of all pupils and parents by boosting online safety.

“The scheme creates an eSafety legacy for the school by creating positive behaviour changes, whilst meeting the eSafety requirements of the computing curriculum. It means that eSafety becomes an integral element of the school culture, in the same way technology is an integral part of the lives of young people.”

The structured scheme sets eCadets regular challenges which incorporate learning about different aspects of improving online trust, championing online safety and developing safety tools for their friends, pupils and parents. Schools who have digital leaders have found the eCadets enhances their work through its structure.

The eCadets are also able to collaborate with each other through the 100% safe moderated built-in social platform – Bubble -- and ask any questions through the instant messenger facility, which means they always have access to the know-how of the eCadet HQ team.

Henry said:

“eSafety is evolving. It’s important to find a solution that works around your school. This is one of the reasons why in eCadets we focus on peer-empowerment to promote the core understandings of eSafety. For us eSafety is about looking at copyright, images, searching and so many other wider issues. We are looking at eSafety in the form of digital skills and digital citizenship as opposed to don’t do this, don’t do that.”

The scheme has three elements for schools - Mini eCadets (EYFS), eCadets (years 3-6) and Senior eCadets (years 7-13). In each the pupils are supported to disseminate their new skills so every child at the school benefits.

“It’s very easy for schools to join the eCadet family of schools. All they need to do is register here and they can be set up within minutes,” said Henry. “We also have a special offer for schools signing up before the end of February with the scheme reduced to only £500 per year.”

You can catch up with their latest activity by following @eCadetson Twitter.

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Terry Freedman is an independent educational ICT consultant with over 35 years of experience in education. He publishes the ICT in Education website and the newsletter “Digital Education."