The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

Head of Senior School

Cyber Safety  

In the past week, our Year 9 and 10 cohorts attended an address by cyber safety expert Paul Litherland. Paul has been working with the College for a number of years and has a wealth of experience in educating students about how to stay safe online. Paul has worked with the WA Police Force's Technology Crime Investigation Unit and he was also a key advocate for the Criminal Law Amendment (Intimate Images) Act 2018 (WA).

Paul spoke to students about their behaviour online, the need to show respect and to consider how messages or images they send or receive can impact upon themselves or others. While these are not new lessons, it is important to keep sharing them with students and reminding them of their responsibilities.

During COVID-19 many of us have been online for increased periods of time and this was obviously the case with our students while they were learning via the Scotch College Online Teacher (SCOT) programme in lieu of attending campus. This situation was replicated across the world and we have been fortunate that the time away from campus was short for most of our students, in comparison to others around the globe. This increased online activity has led to organisations such as UNICEF reminding schools and parents about supporting children in staying safe online.

We know the value of social media and the positive ways in which we can use it. Our responsibility is to continue to educate students about any potential concerns and new apps or sites that may not be as 'safe' as they appear and parental support is important with this. As E-Safety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant recently said: "with kids now using screens for their schools, socialising and entertainment, and parents need to be discussing online safety".

Later this week we will also start addressing the different year groups about the Criminal Law Amendment (Intimate Images) Act 2018 (WA). Mr Williams, Deputy Head of Senior School, started these presentations last year and while the content is very important for our students to hear, it is the conversations and discussions that follow that help reinforce the message about respect and responsibility in all our interactions.

There are so many positives to come out of our online connections and many of these have come to the fore over the past three months. One particular opportunity for online connection that stood out in the Senior School was our mentor periods at the start of each day. Both staff and students referenced this time as an important touch point that helped maintain their sense of belonging while not attending campus in person. This important part of the SCOT programme also allowed us to sustain the vertical connection between students in different year groups, which otherwise would have been difficult.

While the College remains mindful of balance in terms of screen time and other educational and wellbeing opportunities, the importance of technology in our schools and lives is apparent and, for this reason, continued education for our boys about behaving appropriately online remains an important area of focus.