Setting an example


Setting an example

With the huge rise of online bullying and with Anti Bullying week, on the theme of “Choose Respect”, commencing 12 November, we need to think about why so many children treat each other with little respect.

It is interesting to see the recently conducted survey by the Anti Bullying Alliance.  Their research talks about the worrying numbers of children (41% of 11-16 year olds) who had seen adults bullying each other in the past 6 months – 21% face-to-face, 18% online and 20% in the media.  Not only do children recognise that this sets a bad example, but the report shows 97% s would like to see more respect shown between adults.

I have been talking for quite some time about adults embracing positive behaviour and how, if we change this, it could reduce the number of children being bullied.  I am starting to believe that, if we started with the grownups, we really could make a difference.  I see frequent posts on social media speaking about people in a negative way.  I have seen posts calling people “selfish” for parking their car incorrectly; another calling a person an “idiot” for jumping in front of a train and causing mayhem with transport.  When our children are being bullied, parents post their frustration online, which I do understand, but this is contradicting the very advice we give children at school; telling them not to respond or retaliate to bullying.

Have we lost the ability to feel compassion and think about why people might act in certain ways?  Are we becoming a nation of opinionated campaigners who can’t tolerate an opposing viewpoint or debate an issue without throwing insults?  I do believe this strongly and I regularly talk about this subject in my workshops.  Adults are worse than children when it comes to posting online.  It is no wonder that children have little respect for each other when, in fact, they are just mirroring behaviour that they have learnt from the adults around them.


Personal Information


Welcome back!!

I know that you are being bombarded with back to school emails – Lots of different offers to tempt you. Fortunately, our Gooseberry Alerts are free, so no need to plead with you to sign up. 😊

Personal data is such a big topic.  We have all had our fair share of emails from companies pleading with us to allow them to email us.   The funny bit is that we all get very involved with the GDPR concept, but we do not think twice about the amount of information we share on social media.  Sometimes I want to scream at some of my friends who are always copying and pasting status, filling in quizzes and letting the world know that they are off on holiday.  You might think that isn’t personal data, but it is.  It’s personal to you.  Any information you give on any platform allows the social media company access to share unless you tell it not to do so.

I learnt the other day that if you have a Gmail account, the Google employees can read your PERSONAL emails, if you have connected your account to third party apps.  Also, Google say they are not tracking your location but apparently if you have an Android phone or have google apps ( on your iPhone, turning off “location history” (which most of would think would do the trick) only stops some of the tracking.   It is time to act and protest.  The internet is not well legislated and the large tech companies are basically cashing in.

We all need to be a little more vigilant with our data.  I now use something called a VPN, a virtual private network.  It cost me £30 for 3 years.  The VPN encrypts my messages and enables me to use unsecured public Wi-Fi without taking the risk of my communications being intercepted or hacked.   I am always logging into public Wi-Fi areas, when I am on the train, in hotels or a coffee shop.  It is almost second nature now, that when you visit a location, the first thing is to find the Wi-Fi key but these public Wi-Fi connections are very vulnerable and, unless you use a VPN, you should restrict your activity on them to web-browsing and not access any accounts and definitely don’t make online payments.

With the new school year beginning, a quick reminder that our Gooseberry Parent App is free of charge to all parents.  All they need to do is register via our website.  All they need to give us is their email and we do not pass on their data to anyone else.

Finally, I need your support.  Are you a teacher, parent or someone that works in the education technology industry?  We all have the right to a safe and secure life online, but we should be aware that personal information is big business! As adults, we are equipped to manage our personal information online, but children need better protection.  The Age Appropriate Design Code is under consultation.  It seeks to minimise the collection of children’s data by amount, kind and spread.   It supports a child’s right to retract, to correct or to challenge data held about them. We are asking Gooseberry Planet supporters to submit to the Information Commissioner’s call for evidence.

Gooseberry Guru
Team Gooseberry have been working hard this summer and added more workshops to our Gooseberry Guru. Facebook and WhatsApp are now in there with some videos on how to change privacy.  These are also available to Parents via Gooseberry Parent.  This is free of charge to parents.

Gooseberry Alert
This month’s Gooseberry Alert focusses on ‘Personal Information’ – a great topic to share with your parents.  If you haven’t registered for this service already, please do.  It is free of charge – just click here  and register.

Department for Education
KCSIE September 2018 takes effect this month. This will replace the September 2017 version, so make sure all of your policies reflect this.   Click here and look at the changes that have been made.

Best wishes for a happy, productive and safe new term.


Gooseberry Planet & Network ROI, working together to protect children online.

Gooseberry Planet & Network ROI, working together to protect children online.

Gooseberry Planet is delighted to partner with Network ROI to help deliver a safer and more secure online experience for school children in Scotland and North England. As one of the UK’s top Managed Service Providers, our skilled engineers have years’ worth of experience managing and supporting technology infrastructure for organisations throughout the UK. Our commercial background ensures we deliver an effective and cost-effective service at all times.

If you are a school in Scotland wanting to know more about Gooseberry Planet and how a scheduled program of learning can protect the children at your school online, visit

We need to do more to protect children online in education. However, it is not solely the responsibility of the school to manage the content children access during school hours. Parents, teachers and carers need to work together to understand more about the many dangers lurking online.

Blocking and filtering offensive content by keyword is only part of the answer as radicalisation, online bullying, grooming and harassment offer a persistent threat to the safety of young people online. A multi-pronged approach to Internet safety that includes changes to current legislation, recognition of the mental health timebomb facing children and a new way of protecting children online is needed.

Legislation changes are needed to protect children online

The legislative backdrop is changing due to failures by social media giants who are being urged by the UK Government to do more to protect younger members of society against online threats. The UK Government has challenged the leading social media providers, Facebook, Google and Twitter to ensure more is done to protect underage users of the platforms.

Children between the ages of 10 and 12 are facing significant emotional risks due to social media exposure. Increased levels of anxiety and pressures to maintain their image online is affecting children in their formative years, according to a report commissioned by the Children’s Commissioner, published in the Independent – link.

Gaming addiction is a real threat to children’s mental health

The World Health Organisation has listed ‘gaming disorder’ as a mental health condition, and the NHS is now treating children with gaming addiction. Many parents and teaching professionals are despairing as addictive games such as Fortnite encourage children to stay up well into the night to play with friends online. Lack of sleep and disruption to their daily routine is playing havoc with children’s behaviour, learning and development.

Psychology underpins the entire software industry. App developers and hardware manufacturers deliberately design addictive products, as they know the longer we spend looking at a screen, the more profitable we are. But It is not just children who are at risk, many of us are addicted to our smartphones as we turn to our devices to manage more of our day. A recent report published by industry watchdog Ofcom, found that on average, adults check their device every 12 minutes.

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is a real problem, and entire industries are flourishing as vanity and anxiety take control of our lives.  An example is the three dots that appear when someone is replying to an iMessage. The dots are designed to heighten anticipation and therefore offer a reward when the reply comes in. The red dots that litter our phone screen are designed to have the same effect, they make us feel good; reinforcing warm and fuzzy feelings of being wanted and liked, engendering a sense of belonging.

In 2015, the BBC published an article citing the Connected Kids report, compiled by Childwise. The report found that children now spend an average of 6.5 hours per day in front of a screen compared to an average of 3.5 hours in 1995. That increase has many experts worried about the detrimental effect on social skills as well as the potential for a future mental health crisis.

Changing online behaviour with Gooseberry Planet

Gooseberry Planet exists solely to protect children in school online. Entrepreneur Stella James founded Gooseberry Planet to address the online security concerns encountered by her children when they attended school.

Based on 50 role-playing games, Gooseberry Planet connects children, parents and teachers via a secure online portal which can be quickly set up and easily monitored. The platform is designed for all children of school age and delivers a holistic approach to online safety. Studies show that providing a one-off assembly is an ineffective method of educating parents, teachers and children about the many dangers that exist online. 

Babcock Online Safety Event – Book Now

We are very excited to be part of the Babcock Conference in September.

Monday 3rd December 2018 | Babcock Conference Centre, Surrey | 09:00 – 16:00

Babcock Education and Gooseberry Planet are passionate about raising the profile of E-Safety in schools and about engaging and educating the whole school community. Parents and teachers have a combined responsibility to protect and prepare children for a life online. But are we doing enough? Do we feel comfortable talking about online dangers? CAN we talk about them or does lack of knowledge, coupled with the digital divide between us and the younger generation, make this difficult?

This one day conference combines the practical learning from Gooseberry planet, alongside keynote speakers who bring with them practical experience and genuine case studies. The importance of Prevent as a safeguarding duty for education, and how some young people are more vulnerable online than others will be discussed.

This valuable, informative day is not to be missed!

Book Now Online Safety Conference Book Now

Key reasons to attend

  • Empowering children with the knowledge to protect themselves and their personal information online
  • Feel more confident in your classroom knowing that you are speaking in your students language
  • Real hands on advice that you can take back to your school and implement straight away

Who should attend

All  Phases of Education

  • Headteachers
  • Deputy Headteachers
  • Teachers
  • School Business Managers


Stella James, Gooseberry Planet

Adrienne Katz, Director, Youthworks Consulting Ltd
Sean Arbuthnot, SMA Prevent Training
Steve Clarke, Director of Computing & Curriculum Consultant, Therfield School