Over Tuesday and Wednesday this week, three Sixth Form students delivered two hour-long presentations in Year 8 PSHE lessons, in order to share our knowledge and experiences of social media with the younger students. These sessions were part of a wider project, coordinated by Piper’s Corner School in High Wycombe, which aims to improve the teaching of internet safety to secondary school students. As part of our volunteering myself, Marcus Tingey and Curran Shah - all in Year 12 - attended two evening training sessions at Piper’s. This training was led by Karl Hopwood, one of the UK’s leading online safety experts and we found both his advice on how to approach discussions about internet safety and his stories extremely useful. With us were representatives from eleven other schools in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, with whom we brainstormed ideas and compared the teaching of internet safety at our different schools. We were definitely struck by the hard work that had gone into making this project a success (whilst deeply appreciating the free food that Piper’s laid on...)

Helpfully, Piper’s had supplied us with packs of leaflets, quiz sheets and other resources to use in our sessions and we made sure to use these to their full extent. Checking in with each other regularly, and testing our material out with our friends, we felt fully prepared to deliver our presentations. It was a really eye-opening experience to hear the opinions of the younger students and see which social media sites they used regularly. For example, some of my presentation focused on the Snapchat app - which is popular amongst Sixth Form students but seemed far less popular with Year 8 boys. After the first sessions, we were able to evaluate how the hour had gone and tighten up our talks for the following day. Naturally, as it was the first time we had taught a lesson to a full class of students for a full hour, our presentation skills went through a rather steep learning curve but certainly came out better.

Experience from Year 8

The interesting and engaging talk covered topics such as viruses, illegal websites and social media. We were free to ask as many questions as we wished as the topic is rather broad and can be quite confusing and one of the activities that we completed involved naming the app/website based on a logo. A standout part of the talk was when our Sixth Form mentor showed the class his social media pages and explained how universities, colleges and businesses will check our social media sites when we apply. He mentioned this since he was recently checking through his social media pages and found some things he’d said in the past which he would not like his future employers to see. He advised us to make sure we don’t put anything silly on our social media pages since it could portray us in a bad light.

He also talked about scams and how people can be tricked into giving way bank account details or other personal information. A useful trick is checking the websites address and seeing if it has a ‘https://’ before it - if so then the website is usually safe. The talk was very thought-provoking and it made us think about what we had put online in the past and what we would do in the future. I think I speak on behalf of all of our class when I say that, after this talk, we will all be more conscious about how we act on the internet.