Web Wizards was first authored based around the then recently published Education for a Connected World framework. This document published by UKCIS is an excellent resource for schools. It sets out a set of age appropriate can-do statements covering a range of essential topics from health, well-being and lifestyle to copyright and ownership. Each area is central to staying safe online and making a positive contribution to the internet. There are eight such areas that are expanded through the can-do statements that run from age 4 to 18.
The framework builds on calls made over many years for a coherent, progressive curriculum in online safety from bodies such as Ofsted (Inspecting E-Safety 2014) to the Children’s Commissioner (Growing Up Digital, January 2017). Through a series of units Web Wizards presents a sequence of lessons to meet a variety of the can-do statements. It is sub-divided into KS1, Lower KS2 and Upper KS2 units organized into a two-year cycle.
Most of the units were trialled by schools prior to publication, but the intention is for the units and lessons to be modified by teachers to meet their specific needs. It is designed to give teachers with less knowledge and confidence enough support for them to be able to deliver a coherent and effective curriculum, whilst at the same time enabling more confident teachers a framework to adapt and modify the content to suit them. Early feedback suggests that it meets these objectives. In fact, some feedback suggested that the scheme had made them think very differently about their existing practice and the realization that they could make much better use of the resources they have.
A second strand has been added to Web Wizards this summer. This is specifically designed to meet the demands of Relationships Education. Whilst many schools will be seeking ways to deliver online relationships it is evident that an effective relationships curriculum needs to blend offline and online elements in several areas.
Online and offline worlds merge together
It is apparent that as the online and offline worlds become increasingly indistinguishable there is a need for greater understanding, for primary-aged children, of the role of the online world in respectful relationships and caring friendships. This is a slight weakness of the structure of Relationships Education whereby the presence of the strands of online relationships and being safe may result in some teachers ignoring the role of technology in the other strands. Visits to most social media sites gives a clear indication of the need for the development of respect as a core concept of online relationships. The lack of body language and tone means that the meaning of comments online can easily be lost or misconstrued, whilst for others the cloak of anonymity frequently results in people behaving in ways they wouldn’t in the real world. These are areas that require effective teaching and learning. Similarly, the notion of friendship is one that has a different complexion online to offline contexts. The act of friending online is a very different one to building a lasting and caring one in the real world. Teaching and learning about this is as essential to building effective relationships as it is to staying safe. It is because of this that we have developed the Relationships strand of Web Wizards. This strand is organized to mirror the Digital Citizenship strand into units for KS1, Lower KS2 and Upper KS2, but this time covering online relationships, caring friendships and respectful relationships.
What’s next for Web Wizards?
Although all the lesson plans have now been published there is still some of the online content to accompany the scheme that is yet to be produced. This is planned to be released over the next academic year as part of our cycle of online content production. This should not prevent use of the scheme. We will continue to produce materials to support learning, especially in the core areas of online safety and relationships.
Web Wizards is available to any of our schools free of charge. Whilst it is not essential to have DB Primary because the lessons are designed to be adapted, some material will not be available elsewhere and alternative online communication and collaboration tools cannot be guaranteed to have the functionality including profanity filtering, moderation or safety features of DB Primary.
If you would like more information about the Web Wizards scheme of work, please get in touch with a member of the New Era team.