Islington believe raising the aspiration of all parents, children and the wider community is key to digital transformation and narrowing the skills gap. Not only are digital skills essential for many careers; but technology has been proven to empower learners, and sometimes accelerate learning. There are a wealth of quality apps and free platforms to support children’s learning, collaboration and creativity, many of which are used in school; yet reports say these aren’t reaching children and families, despite homes being “tech rich” and online safety dominates the news.
Mobile and internet enabled devices are commonplace across the majority of homes, with one in five 3-4s and more than half of 8-11s and 12-15s having their own tablet. An Ofcom report suggested that “devices [were] ‘mostly’ only used for YouTube”, and the top websites accessed by 6-14 year olds were heavily commercial and mostly designed for adults, not child audiences. DCMS have an Internet Safety Green paper for children and Young people, whereas Digital Transformation is the terminology used for other sectors. In turn, narrative around technology aimed at children and parents is focused on risk and safety, often with a fixation on screen time rather than consideration of the Content and Context of ‘screen use’
The T/Cs of social media and gaming platforms are not understood, with many primary age children on 13+ platforms. The Children’s Commissioner #Digital5aday Report likened children consuming social media like junk food and urged parents to support their children’s use of technology, with a balance of offline sports, games and use of more creative age appropriate tech.
The vast majority of parents want the best for their child and search out educational and fun resources, clubs and even tutors for home. We know the tried and tested educational and “classic” books, puzzles and board games to buy, so why isn’t this the same with Apps and Online games?
With “parental anxiety about their children’s internet use growing,” Islington schools are looking to build parental confidence by using positive technology, narrative on career routes and apprenticeships in tech City. Islington are also working to build children’s resilience, and provide information for families on keeping safe online, with reminders of important offline activity – books at bedtime, sport and traditional games using the Children’s Commissioner #Digital5aday
The lead teacher team run “Tech and Parenting” sessions in place of tradition Online Safety parent sessions (which can often be poorly attended and the team joke that they are only attended by the ‘Waitrose parent’) and the digital leader pupils assist the sessions to help engage their parents. Example Parent Breakfast Trainings are “Tech Fast” led by Lead Teachers Dan Ferry and Donna Shah.
The sessions combine messages of Online Safety, while demonstrating creative and purposeful technology across subjects from computing, coding, robotics, literacy publishing via blogs, book apps and video, audio books, plus personalised maths programmes, highlighting benefits for certain learners e.g. dyslexia.
The team have brought together a starter page of free resources and collaborate with a broad range of digital and edtech partners on home links, and accessible and affordable weekly code clubs alongside digital holiday courses: