Welcome to Term 4! It has already begun in earnest with lots of news to share already. Firstly, congratulations to Adam Carrick and his wife, Sarah, on the birth of their baby boy, Ari. Whilst he is on paternity leave, our Year 5 and 6 swimming team did them proud. Despite ending up the in the league with all the big schools, they held their own and I am sure gained much from the experience. Particular thanks to Miss Greenwood and Mrs Markwell for guiding the children through this occasion. Our Year 5 children also had their first sessions at Carroty Wood undertaking activities including abseiling. Both of these challenges showed just how well our oldest children embody our Bidborough Behaviours, showing courage, collaboration and celebration particularly. We are proud of you all.
Today saw the start of a series of activities we are running through Friday afternoons this term. Team Time is taking place across the school with children carouselling through activities over the term. In Key Stage 1, the activities include origami, puppetry, arts and craft and creating grass heads. In Key Stage 2, the children have an opportunity to take part in Tri-Golf, Speedstacking, drawing skills and developing the Spiritual Garden. The children are grouped vertically, getting together in their houses and supporting one another. It is a good opportunity for siblings to experience something together in school and it has been a pleasure to see them work together to develop new skills.
There is much work to do in the Spiritual Garden and in the gardens around the school. If you are at a loose end on a Friday afternoon (!) please do come with a spade or secateurs and get involved!
Next Friday, 8th March, we are celebrating World Book Day (a day later than most, but Fridays are best for dressing up!). There will be several activities on the day but I am sure that the highlight will be hearing the winning stories from the 500 word competition. We will be holding a special assembly in the morning to share some of our costumes (book characters or dressed ready for a bedtime story) and celebrate our talented writers.
Finally, following recent media stories regarding a viral story being shared on social media, it is a good opportunity to revisit the importance of online safety with you. I have sought advice and would like to share the following information with you:
I appreciate that this story has created some anxiety amongst adults (and children and young people who have seen the images) however it’s important to recognise that most of the current concerns have been fuelled by the recent publicity. Credible reports about this issue are very rare, making it difficult for people to know precisely what is going on. Due to recent publicity it is likely that content is now being created and shared on popular social media apps to generate fear and panic.
Viral stories such as this often contain graphic or distressing imagery; I strongly recommend this is not shared with children. It is also important to recognise that by mentioning specific challenges by name, we may encourage children to explore something that they were previously unaware of, either out of curiosity, or because they want to feel involved in what everyone is talking about.
Online safety is an important part of keeping children safe at our school and is taught to all pupils regularly within computing and PSHE. Our curriculum empowers children to become critical thinkers and to understand how they can to stay safe and behave appropriately online, but we can only be successful in keeping children safe online if we work with you.
So, here are some recommendations:
Talk to your child
- We would recommend not naming concerning challenges or sharing potentially frightening images specifically with children as this can cause them significant upset and distress.
- It’s important that parents find out and learn about what children are doing online; find out what your child is looking at, and judge for yourself if it’s appropriate.
- o Learning together with your child can often open opportunities to discuss safe behaviour online. By having regular and open conversations with your child, you’ll provide them with an opportunity to share any concerns they may have.
- o childnet.com and www.thinkuknow.co.uk has some useful tips and ideas for parents about starting conversations about online safety
Do your research
- If you are made aware of a concern being shared on social media, it’s a good idea to check such stories out with a known reliable and trustworthy source. Many headlines and stories use sensationalist language with vague details; if this is the case then it’s possible that it’s not entirely accurate.
- Useful websites that can help determine if an online story is true include:
Take concerns raised by children seriously
- If your child has been exposed to such content and is scared, then it’s important not to dismiss their worries. It doesn’t matter if the fear is real or proportionate, if it’s scaring them, it’s worth listening to them to help them feel reassured and safe.
- Help provide a balanced view to such stories and talk with them about how they can deal with concerns, such as blocking and reporting on websites or apps they use and always talking to a trusted adult if they see something upsetting online.
- Discuss together as a family how the internet will be used in your house and set clear boundaries regarding time-limits, supervision and what they can access.
- Visit sites like www.internetmatters.org and www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-and-resources/a-parents-guide for advice about parental controls on consoles and devices.
- Make sure you read any parental guidance and safety recommendations (including age requirements – most popular social networking sites and apps are only for users aged 13+, 16+ or 18+); visit www.net-aware.org.uk to find out information about some of the most popular apps.
Report any serious risk of harm
- The School Designated Safeguarding Leads, Mrs Fowler, Mrs Bateup and I, are available to discuss any help you may need or concerns that you may have.
- If you are worried that a criminal offence has been committed, then you can report your concerns to the Police. You can contact Kent Police via 101 - or 999 if there is immediate risk - or you can report online abuse to CEOP by visiting www.ceop.police.uk and using the “Click CEOP” report button.
For more information access:
- www.thinkuknow.co.uk – Visit the “Parent/Carer” Section and use the “Click CEOP” button to seek advice and report online abuse
- www.childnet.com – Visit the ‘’Parent and Carer’ section helpful tools and advice
- www.internetmatters.org – A range of advice and support on issues for parents
- www.nspcc.org.uk/onlinesafety – NSPCC provides information for parents about popular social media sites, apps and games.
- www.saferinternet.org.uk – Parents guides to safety tools on popular devices and signposts report mechanisms for some websites.
- www.kent.police.uk/internetsafety - Guidance from Kent Police
It’s important that we all remember that the internet is an essential part of young people’s lives and provides them with tremendous opportunities. The vast majority use it without coming to any harm so it’s essential to be realistic: banning the internet or web sites often will not work and it can make a child feel less able to report a problem or concern, so education around safe use is essential.
I hope this guidance has been helpful and, rather than making you worry, will give you some additional strategies to keep our children safe and happy online. If there is any way we can help, let us know.