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Chris joined teachers and pupils at Epsom College to congratulate the school being named as joint winner of the prestigious Parent Zone Digital School of the Year Award 2017, which recognises commitment to online safety and digital resilience.

This year, entries to the awards, which recognise Digital Schools members who have proved their dedication to digital excellence, were so strong that two winners were named with Epsom winning the senior category and St Andrew’s Church of England School in Plymouth taking the primary school award.

Parent Zone works with parents and schools to offer expert online advice and content and the award is given to schools that have gone the extra mile to maximise online opportunities for pupils and the whole school community while minimising the risks they face online.

“Epsom works hard to embed the digital world into its pupils’ learning environment, embracing technology whilst ensuring students are well equipped to manage the risks and make the most of the benefits,” said Parent Zone’s Deputy CEO, Sophie Linington.

This award is even more impressive in light of recent press coverage following a year-long study that revealed how ill-equipped children are in coping with the challenges of the online world.

The College was selected for the award following its outstanding work in this area, spearheaded by Director of Welfare, Helen Keevil.

Lessons and whole school Internet safety awareness days to help keep pupils safe online are an important part of the academic year. In PSD (Personal and Social Development) lessons, for example, PowerPoint presentations from the Parent Zone site are delivered to pupils in Years 7-13 and junior pupils all complete a four week digital safety passport course.

Online behavioural experts visit the College regularly to work with L6th pupils to tidy their digital footprint ahead of starting UCAS applications and work placements.

In addition, parents attend e-safety workshops to learn how to support their children in the digital world and the College’s e-safety officer organises regular drop-in staff training to small groups of teachers and other staff to encourage them to stay safe in their online world.

“Embedding the digital world in a traditional well-established teaching and learning environment has been fun and highly rewarding,” said Helen Keevil.

The winner’s trophy will be presented on Friday 10th February. The College will also benefit from a session with the Parent Zone online safety team and £250 in Amazon vouchers towards school technology.

In addition there is an opportunity for 30 pupils to visit Sky Academy Skills Studios in Isleworth to meet media presenters and to make their own programme on digital safety.

“Epsom College has led the way in the complex world of digital challenges and possibilities. It is gratifying to be recognised with this award and a timely reminder of the quality of work undertaken by Helen Keevil and the various teams of people that she guides,” said Headmaster, Jay Piggot.