The School Digital Champion Programme is an initiative of my Department in collaboration with the Department of Education and Skills under the National Digital Strategy. It is an innovative project-based programme which encourages students in post-primary schools to use technology to solve day to day challenges in their schools and wider communities. Over the past two years a number of students have identified the issue of online safety as their chosen School Digital Champion project. They have developed websites and information sessions within their school to inform students about Internet safety and to raise awareness of their digital footprint.
During the 2018 and 2019 Programme, presentations on online safety formed part of the project showcase event attended by students and teachers. I welcome the inclusion of online safety at these events as it is provides an opportunity to promote awareness of a number of resources and supports available to schools on this issue.
The Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020, sets out the Department of Education and Skills policy on the effective use of digital technologies in teaching, learning and assessment. A key action of the strategy is the promotion of the responsible and ethical use of the Internet and related technologies.
Awareness on online safety for schools is carried out by the Professional Development Service for Teachers technology in education (PDST) in partnership with the safer Internet Ireland project. Webwise, an online safety initiative co-funded by the Department of Education and Skills and operated by PDST, promotes the autonomous, effective and safer use of the Internet by young people through a sustained information and awareness strategy that targets parents, teachers and children with consistent and relevant messages, including guidance on acceptable usage in schools. A range of resources has been developed which helps teachers integrate online safety into teaching and learning in their schools.