A school in Glasgow has been awarded a ’digital wellbeing’ award for promoting cyber resilience and the online safety of children.

The High School of Glasgow received the Special Recognition Award for Digital Wellbeing for Cyber Resilience and Internet Safety from Digital Schools Awards Scotland.

The award is recognised by Education Scotland and supported by the Scottish Government’s Child Protection Unit and Police Scotland.

It is the first initiative of its kind to be delivered in Scotland and acknowledges the increasing amount of time children spend online and the risks they face to their social and emotional wellbeing as a result.

The High School of Glasgow’s junior School and senior School have been recommended by the external validator as a mentor school for the programme.

The High School’s leadership and vision in the area of Cyber Resilience and Internet Safety was said to be ‘clearly evident’ and ‘embedded in improvement planning, across subjects and year groups’. The positive and supportive ethos of digital wellbeing present was also remarked on.

The school’s commitment to embedding digital health and wellbeing across the curriculum allows for organic conversations to arise where relevant in, for example, English, meaning this topic isn’t viewed in a silo within personal and social education (PSE) classes or in computing science.

Pupil advocacy and leadership is encouraged via the Digi-Leads Committee in the junior school where children play a key role in supporting and interacting with peers, acting as mentors to promote digital wellbeing across the school.

A similar committee of Digital Champions is being set up at the senior school to provide peer-led support and enable young people to secure, manage and protect their own wellbeing online.

The real-world impact of the strategies the High School has in place was remarked on with a key finding from the assessor, ‘the clear evidence of children being aware of the relationship between what they do in the digital world and their physical, social and emotional wellbeing as a result’. 

Teaching staff are kept up to date with knowledge and training in this area via their professional development plans, ensuring they are well equipped to provide guidance and advice on digital practices. A focus on the age and stage of children ensures teachers tailor guidance accordingly.

Malcolm Wilson, Digital Schools Scotland assessor, said: “The High School of Glasgow is clearly committed to embedding digital technologies and ensuring continuous improvement. It is quite clear that the ethos and strategies of the school have provided pupils, as well as staff and their parents and carers, with the capacity, the framework for dialogue, and the vocabulary to deal with any issues as they might arise, or indeed to pre-empt them, in a restorative approach, building in pupils an increased understanding of how actions affect others online or in-person, and how to be respectful of others.”

Mr John O’Neill, rector of The High School of Glasgow, said: “It is an honour to be awarded the Digital Wellbeing Award. Life today transcends the physical and digital world and we must prepare children and young people with the knowledge, guidance and confidence, to navigate both worlds in the safest way possible. 

“This really is a whole school effort with advice tailored to our youngest learners in the junior school right the way through to teens in the senior school. In particular, mention must be made of Mr David Muir, e-Learning Co-ordinator, who has been instrumental in installing an ethos of Digital Wellbeing across the junior and senior School. Maggie Pollock, junior deputy head teacher (teaching and learning) and Gail Morrans, junior deputy head teacher (pastoralshould be commended for their hard work in putting this at the heart of junior school learning. In addition, Philip Graham, senior deputy head (pastoral), alongside senior school house staff play a key role in integrating digital wellbeing across the curriculum.” 

The High School of Glasgow first became a Digital School in 2021 as part of the Digital Schools Awards, a national award scheme run by Education Scotland designed to promote, recognise and encourage a whole school approach to the use of digital technology in schools.