Safety First

Our Duke of Edinburgh ‘season’ began last weekend with a Gold award expedition to the Peak District – and our Bronze pupils will soon be shouldering their packs and enjoying some healthy exercise too. I love walking myself, and learning to read a map when we otherwise rely on sat navs or our phones is a hugely enriching experience for our pupils. In fact, one of the joys of a DofE expedition is that phones are not allowed and that pupils have to work as a team as they navigate around the countryside. Our Gold awarders walk in hillier terrain and can only be remotely supervised, with trained staff nearby to monitor their progress. One of the greatest skills they learn is to assess and take limited risks, without compromising their safety.

Such structured risk-assessment does not unfortunately always accompany their thinking in other aspects of their lives, and we know that the teenage brain is more inclined to risky behaviour. As adults, at both home and school, we need to both protect and educate, giving our children gradually more independence as they gain our trust through appropriate and safe behaviour. They are more supervised at school than at home, yet we still need them to learn to self-regulate, as we cannot watch them every second of the day.

Matthew Syed always writes a sensible column in the Sunday Times. Last week, he talked about our loss of control of the digital world: “We’ve never had so much information at our fingertips — and so little wisdom to do anything useful with it...... The information superhighway has led to great leaps forward in science and tech but has had a rather more equivocal effect on mass consciousness. Pornography accounts for a third of all downloads, and the wormhole of YouTube and bottomless scroll of Facebook parasitise our attention spans. As a species we become congenitally distracted, gorging on dopamine spikes of digital titillation in a not dissimilar way to the highly engineered snacks of Big Food.”

Internet safety is a regular focus for us at school, and we ask you to monitor your child’s smartphone usage and to use parental controls. Our young people are otherwise exposed to a world of significant risk, which they do not always have the maturity or wisdom to filter or manage. The Online Safety Bill is long overdue.

Miss Young, our Deputy Head (Pastoral), sends you a termly newsletter: ‘Knowledge is Power – LGS termly update for parents with key information about keeping your children safe’. At the end of last Trinity Term, she sent one relating to the frightening rise among young people of vaping, and I include the link below.

Sadly, our pupil population is not immune to this risk, and we know that both vapes and other harmful substances, such as nicotine pouches, are not difficult to obtain. Despite this availability in the ‘outside world’, it is vital that we keep our school community a safe place for all its members. Pupils therefore know that possession or supply of any such substances in school will be dealt with decisively.

Please work in partnership with us by maintaining an open dialogue on such issues at home and by doing your best to monitor the amount of risk to which your child is exposed.

I wish you and families a safe and happy half-term break,

John Watson


Knowledge is Power for Parents
Vaping is a health and anti-social behaviour issue that is affecting young people nationally, including some within our own community.
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