Agenda item

Social Media and Internet Safety


(a)       That the report be noted; and


(b)       That the Committee feel assured around the level of assurance about the education offer to schools in relation to online safety, including social media.


            The report was presented by the Senior Manager for School Improvement and Learning Advisor (Health Wellbeing & Safeguarding) and provided Members with an update on the Portfolio’s Social Media and Internet Safety policy with the focus on Safety and Well Being of learners.  Technology had enabled education to continue during the pandemic which, whilst being a huge benefit, there has also been harmful behaviour online and content which would put learners at risk if appropriate strategies were not in place.   She confirmed that this responsibility was taken seriously by the Authority and schools.


            The Learning Advisor (Health Well-being and Safeguarding) presented the report which had been brought to reassure committee that children and young people were receiving appropriate levels of support in relation to social media and internet safety with the report highlighting what the authority had undertaken together with the national guidance.  Social media platforms had enabled schools and the authority to communicate quickly with children and parents but there were advantages and disadvantages with the same challenges faced by adults using these platforms as young people.  The report contained data and guidance provided by UK Government and Welsh Government (WG) which was now being followed locally.   Information on the Digital Competency Framework, Schools Health Research Network (SHRN) was provided and it was confirmed that the next survey would take place in the Autumn this year. 


The Learning Advisor drew Members attention to the Online Safety Bill, Action Plan, Guidance and Curriculum for Wales.  Information on the remit of the All Wales School Liaison Core Programme was outlined together with the programme “Getting on Together” which looked at challenging extremism.  In conclusion, she outlined the new Estyn Inspection Framework with a pilot for this commencing in spring 2022.


            Councillor Mackie welcomed the report and the inclusion of links which provided accompanying online documentation for Members to view.  He asked as a school governor what questions should he be asking of his schools and were the schools aware of the report. 


            In response, the Learning Advisor explained that the authority had a duty to provide appropriate training and advice and that this was already in the portfolio’s forward ward programme.  She added that it was hoped that the Trainer who had provided training for the schools programme could hold a session for school governors who would be given questions to ask their governing body.


            Councillor Martin White referred to point 1.08 where it stated 68 out of 78 schools had registered for 360 Degree Safe Cymru and asked what could be done to encourage the final 10 to register.   In response the Senior Manager said that this was an important tool but said schools could be using other tools which were available but agreed it would be beneficial if all schools could register.  This would be encouraged in the new academic year.


            The Chair commented on the pupil to pupil cyber bullying figures which were down to 20% of learners reporting this compared to 23% when surveyed in 2017, but said that this remained higher than the average of 18%.  He referred to the Notice of Motion which went to Council in 2019, where all Members signed up to a pledge that they would not themselves engage in social media in ways which denigrates other individuals.  He asked how Members could re-affirm this pledge.


            The Learning Advisor supported the Chair’s comments and suggested that this and online bullying could be promoted to form part of the new academic year and included in schools newsletters, twitter,  websites etc. The authority’s communication team could promote this further to make a stance on cyber bullying which was very important.  This suggestion was supported by the Committee.  


            Councillor Axworthy paid tribute to the late Councillor Kevin Hughes’ championing of stopping cyber bullying.  She commented that this was a hugely important subject and she welcomed the upcoming governor training and steps to move this forward.


            Councillor Gladys Healey asked if primary schools could be included as well as high schools as younger children had their own phones and used social media.  Councillor Healey felt that if they were taught at a very young age to respect each other and follow the no bullying policy by the time they reached secondary schools this would assist in reducing the issue. 


            In response, the Learner Advisor confirmed that the survey was currently only carried out in secondary schools but a pilot was being undertaken with some year 6 pupils.  The primary school pilot had been delayed due to the pandemic with no timeframe set for this at present but the key messages on online safety were taught in the curriculum from foundation phase.


The recommendation, as outlined within the report, was moved and seconded byCouncillor Janet Axworthy and Councillor Sian Braun.




(a)       That the report be noted; and


(b)       That the Committee feel assured around the level of assurance about the education offer to schools in relation to online safety, including social media.

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