Dear Curtin families,
Many of you will have noticed my recent absence from school. I have had to take some personal leave to support my recovery from a recent car accident. Thank you to everyone who has inquired after my wellbeing, and I look forward to returning to school in the next week or so. Maryanne Hayes, along with our executive teachers have each taken on additional workloads to ensure the smooth running of the school and ongoing learning success for students. I thank each of them for their contributions both within the school day and behind the scenes.
At this time of year, it is difficult to ensure relief teachers every time a staff member is away, and across the school our teachers have all worked hard to support students and take on additional playground duties as required to ensure the school day is safe and productive for your children. If your child is experiencing symptoms of an end of winter illness, please give them time to rest and get better at home to ensure we stay as healthy as possible at school.
This week is Child Protection Week. Recently at Curtin, our focus has been on children’s safety online. In this newsletter, I am taking the opportunity to share a position on the use of social media in primary school. Throughout the learning program, students are gradually introduced to online interaction through creating collaborative pieces of work, and brainstorming or giving feedback in a more ‘chat’ style format. We are also exploring platforms for sharing and commenting on work with families. It is our position that the learning program provides opportunities for students to learn the skills required to use these communication modes, whilst supporting wellbeing. They also have the privacy and supervision to ensure that if they make mistakes, they have the opportunity to repair them.
As primary school age children are learning technical and personal skills, they do not have fully developed resilience, maturity or critical reading skills. When using media beyond school, we understand students face risks and can be exposed to inappropriate messages. We recommend that each family take a closer look at their child’s social media accounts and consider removing access to apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Discord and WhatsApp. This can be done by changing their password then deleting the apps. I also advise families to close gmail accounts and ensure students only use their school accounts when required to be online.
We are also aware that some families believe their children are not online through their mobile phones as they do not have data access, but that their children access apps through wifi and do not tell adults they are online. Many parents also feel they should allow access to ensure their children are not excluded socially. Having a school position is an attempt to support parents in keeping children safe. There is also sometimes confusion about whether online interaction is a school matter. When Curtin students are involved, we advise always sharing screenshots and talking with teachers so we can manage impacts on school relationships and personal wellbeing.
This needs to be accompanied with conversations about why social media use is exposing children to risk and hurting wellbeing, and regular checking of their devices. There is support available for parents through resources such as ThinkUKnow and the Safety Commissioner. Further resources will be shared by the school next week. It is not our intention to be punitive, but to act protectively of the wellbeing and safety of our students now and into their adult lives.
If you have questions or concerns, please always contact myself, an executive teacher or your child’s teacher.