The new #BeCyberSmart resource bank covers tough-to-teach topics such as permission and ownership, legal and illegal use of computers, and password protection. It does this in a way that’s accessible and fun for both children and teachers, and also includes links to personal, social, health, and economic (PSHE) education and digital literacy.
It’s increasingly important for children to understand online security from a young age, as Emily, cybersecurity expert at the NCA, explains: “Children use technology at a very young age, and it can be difficult to monitor how they spend their time online. The NCA has identified that children as young as eight have engaged in online activity which has breached the Computer Misuse Act. Children can become so skilled; they use their computer to cause serious disruption and have been known to launch cyberattacks against schools. Education is a key foundation for an effective crime prevention programme. The new Barefoot resources will help pupils understand their responsibilities in a fun and informative way.”
For lower-primary students, understanding their responsibilities online is an effective foundation to keep them safe and help prevent crime. That means raising awareness of copyright and digital permission, which the resources cover. “Through examining both physical and digital objects within a lesson, children develop their understanding of ownership and when they need to ask others to use and share content,” explains Neil Rickus, education specialist for BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, and one of the resource’s content writers.
As children enter upper primary, they become increasingly skilled with technology and spend more time on screen, and the potential for them to use a computer to cause significant disruption increases. “The Key Stage 2 (upper primary) #BeCyberSmart resources introduce children to the Computer Misuse Act through a courtroom scenario, where children have to pass judgement on a range of offences linked to technology usage,” says Neil. “Children are often unaware of the impact cybercrime can have, so the resources include information on the victims of crime, which has led to really interesting conversations in the classroom when trialling the lessons.”
The resources are not only about keeping safe online; they also aim to inspire children about the opportunities in the cybersecurity industry where demand for people with digital skills is already outstripping supply. Louise Patterson, cybersecurity expert at BT, says: “I use computational thinking daily in my job — which is fast becoming one of the most important roles in the tech sector. Every Barefoot lesson covers at least one computational thinking concept and approach. From algorithms to collaboration, the learning within the Barefoot lessons will help children develop strong foundations in their online practice. Who knows, it could even spark an interest in a cybersecurity career like mine!”
To download Barefoot’s free #BeCyberSmart resources, head to barefootcomputing.org.
Barefoot is the computing education programme from BT and Computing at School. It has reached more than 85,000 teachers and 3 million pupils in the UK. It produces free, cross-curricular resources for the classroom and home learning, plus continuing professional development workshops and online guides.