About the project
Schools have an important role to play in young people’s social and emotional development, as well as their academic learning. And yet, with rising mobile phone ownership and social media use, schools face ever greater challenges to keep pace with students’ digital lives.
At one level, young people’s online activities present a ‘blind spot’ for professionals, to whom the vast majority of what occurs is invisible to them. At the same time, the blurring of boundaries between the online and offline means that these worlds extend beyond students’ leisure time, peers and their family relationships, to crossover into the jurisdiction of schools, with implications for their education and welfare-giving roles.
These roles and responsibilities are cast in a new light in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. A holistic understanding of digital resilience is arguably needed now more than ever to support schools to engage with young people beyond a purely academic agenda.
Initiated by Ecorys, in partnership with the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families (AFNCCF), this project sets out to re-assess the role of schools within young people’s interactions with the digital world. Our aims are as follows:
- to understand the range of ways in which young people’s online activities and behaviours intersect with their school life, and with what outcomes
- to consider how schools are (or could be) responding to the ‘digital turn’, to best support young people’s learning, welfare and development
- to explore the views and experiences of teachers and other professionals about their everyday interactions with students about their digital lives, and to consider the implications for initial teacher training and continuing professional development
- to examine the extent to which risks and opportunities afforded by the digital world are common to schools in general, or whether they are specific to individual schools and their communities, and to understand the factors driving these differences; and,
- to identify the characteristics of effective ‘whole school’ approaches for supporting young people to be safe and resilient online, and to work with students and young people to signpost and (where needed) develop new evidence-based resources.
The scope of the project is as follows:
- Our focus is secondary stage (11-18-year olds) and England only, covering both mainstream and independent schools and sixth form colleges, along with special schools and Alternative Provision (AP) settings. We will look to extend the project at a later date, to work with primary schools and early years settings.
- The project was initiated prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the literature review and qualitative fieldwork continued during this period and incorporated an additional focus on the impacts of the public health crisis and the lockdown on young people’s digital lives. Our focus remains on developing a holistic model of digital resilience for schools and young people but framed in the context of a post-Covid-19 world.