More than 100 students of 12 secondary schools in Portsmouth and Hampshire have received training to become Cyber Ambassadors since the scheme was rolled out at the beginning of this year. Through peer-led education, approximately 5,000 students are ultimately benefiting from the latest knowledge on how to keep safe online.
The peer-education based scheme was developed by the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Youth Commission and is delivered to interested schools for free following a successful pilot in 2017. It enables skilled-up, informed pupils to educate and offer advice and support to their peers on staying safe online.
For secondary schools the Cyber Ambassador scheme covers issues such as sexting, cyber stalking and grooming, with peers educating peers proving a particularly powerful approach. Heather Trim, Deputy Head at Portsmouth High, said: “The cyber ambassadors are given a tool kit to help them stay safe online and to be able to sign post help where necessary, reacting instantly to local trends.
“The scheme works because the ambassadors have credibility amongst their peers and they are able to provide realistic advice to parents.”
Feedback from students taking part in the training praises the interactive approach and highlights the increase in confidence to navigate the online world safely and help others to do the same. One student commented: “I thought today was very educational and eye opening and really fun. I now know to put my account on private. Thanks for helping me help others with their problems.”
Alison Romaine, 19 who was one of the Youth Commission members who developed the Cyber Ambassador scheme said: “The Cyber Ambassador scheme has linked technical and social advice from organisations with school children (the experts of the trends and goings on of their online lives) who can then teach their peers and talk with their parents – increasing transparency in what can sometimes be an elusive thing of the ‘internet’.
“The Cyber Ambassador scheme has allowed young people to be in control of how they live online.”
The scheme is also available for primary schools, with students learning how to stay safe and defeat cyber sea monsters Selphire (selfies) Meanataur (cyberbullying), Angler (searching), Info-Eator (privacy) and Bi-Diphorus (befriending). The scheme is based on learning through activities and uses top trump cards for each Sea Monster to reinforce the learning around each individual danger and the actions that can be taken to protect yourself and others.
One pupil at Medstead school in Alton, which was one of the Cyber Ambassador pilot schools, said:
“I think it is a really interesting to be taught about e-safety by someone our age, we haven’t done this before. The sea creatures are really interesting and it is not boring as it does not have lots of stuff to read but also activities to do”.