One of the great areas of challenge for schools in the modern era of digital technology relates to cyber safety and digital citizenship amongst students.
There continues to be developments in digital technology and software applications that provide wonderful opportunities for us all but equally issue challenges, and sometimes dangers, for users and participants.
Ivanhoe Grammar School continues to take a very proactive stance with regards the provision of resources for students and parents relating to cyber safety and digital responsibility, specific teaching units for students across the ages in regards to these matters, the development and review of policies relating to cyber bullying and social media use in particular, and the professional development of staff to assist them in providing appropriate support and care to students in this area.
Amongst other things recently, the School has been reviewing its Healthy Community Relationships Policy to ensure that it meets the standards and addresses the issues, particularly around social media and cyber bullying.
Recent legal determinations in courts in Victoria and New South Wales have given another context in which policies and advice to staff, students and parents should be provided and the school has sought appropriate legal advice to ensure that our policies are reflective of this changed environment (for example, emphasising the potential criminality of an individual engaging in online practice that might be construed as cyber bullying).
In addition, the School has created a Cyber Alert Team (CAT) to maintain a watching brief over all matters relating to cyber safety and digital responsibility and to advise key staff in the School where action might be required, policies reviewed or initiatives undertaken. (Of course this does not replace the specific support and pastoral care provided by Heads of House, Level Managers and Form Tutors/Teachers with regards to individual student matters.)
I have alerted parents before to the important parent resource website (www.iCyberSafe.com) which provides up-to-date information via regular postings on matters relating to cyber safety.
I urge all parents to register (there is no charge) so that you might receive regular information that we hope will assist you in supporting your child/children in this important area of their adolescent development.
Developing digitally responsible citizens and allowing children to participate online in a safe manner can only be achieved via a partnership between the Family and the School. I encourage you to work with the School in this challenging area and I also continue to urge parents and students to raise with the School any matter of concern that they have regarding online matters that affect them or their friends.
Roderick D Fraser