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Written Statement - Safer Internet Day 2017

Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education

Today over 100 countries around the world celebrate Safer Internet Day 2017.  Safer Internet Day is a global awareness day to promote good practice in online safety and gives advice and guidance on the risks posed by new technologies such as social media and how to stay safe while using them.

As the lead organisation for online safety in Wales, Welsh Government is committed to promoting the safe and positive use of technology to our children, young people, parents and teachers.  The day offers us the opportunity to raise awareness of what we are doing in Wales to safeguard our learners online and highlight responsible use of technology in schools, colleges and in the home.

Over the past year we have significantly increased our investment in online safety activities to £170,000 a year to deliver training to around 2,300 practitioners and increase take-up of the 360 degree safe Cymru tool amongst schools in Wales.  Our Digital Competence Framework published in September has a specific strand on digital citizenship to develop leaners’ skills in behaving responsibly online.  

In addition, today I will launch a new Online Safety Zone on the Hwb, the national digital learning platform for Wales, which has been developed to support teachers, parents and learners in this critical area.  The dedicated area will host news, articles and a range of resources on various online safety issues to help keep learners safe.  It will also signpost those dealing with the effects of online bullying or any online safety issues towards appropriate support services.

To celebrate Safer Internet Day, we held a competition to design a logo for the new Online Safety Zone. We were delighted to have received over 125 entries and I would like to thank all the schools and young people that got involved and submitted entries.

Finalist schools include Model Church in Wales School, Portfield Special School, Ysgol Penrhyn-coch and Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive School. Finalists have been invited to attend the Safer Internet Day Keeping Learners Safe Online event in the Senedd today, where all the entries will be exhibited and I will announce the winning logo.

We have also supported the UK Safer Internet Centre to launch bilingual Safer Internet Day education packs for teachers with resources to help them celebrate Safer Internet Day.  These packs are available on Hwb have already had over 4000 views.  

There is nothing more important than the safety of our young people and I am encouraged to see that practitioners across Wales also see this as a priority by downloading the resources available on Hwb.

More generally over the past year we have seen a significant increase in teachers and learners visiting the Hwb platform.  Once logged in, they can access classroom resources, create and share lesson plans, start discussion forums and access their own school’s virtual learning platform through the Hwb+ platform.  The most recent Hwb figures from January demonstrate that there were over 2.6 million page views and over 670,000 log-ins to the platform – this equates to over 21,000 log-ins per day.

The unique nature and success of the Hwb platform is drawing attention from organisations around the world; at the recent international BETT education technology show in London the Welsh Government stand welcomed over 400 visitors to hear about our distinctive national approach to digital learning.  Colleagues from other Governments and organisations supporting education will be visiting Wales to learn more about our experiences and I’m delighted that we are leading the way in innovating the way our teachers teach and learners learn.   I will keep Members updated on how the Hwb platform further develops to transform our classrooms and keep Wales at the cutting edge of technology-led education.