How to Teach Online Safety in Primary Schools

E-safety, internet safety, online safety, digital safety are all terms used to describe keeping pupils safe online. There is no one term that fits all, and you will find different terminology used in different schemes and publications. Generally, the term e-safety has been replaced with online safety. Like the DfE, Kapow Primary use the term ‘Online Safety’ in their Computing lessons and Computing scheme of work.

From the academic year 2020/21, RSE and Health Education will become statutory for all children. Further information on the new RSE and Health Education framework can be found in the blog post  ‘What is RSE in Primary Education. Within this framework, there are specific references to ‘online safety’ elements. It is important to note that this should form part of a whole-school approach, and should not be solely the responsibility of the Computing lead or for it to be taught discreetly within Computing lessons. Online safety should be taught throughout the year and not just in a single half term, or on Safer Internet Day.

Explore our RSE scheme of work

The RSE and Health Education document breaks down the key objectives the children should know by the end of primary school. These objectives can be found in Relationships Education (pg 19-22) and Physical Health and Mental Well-being (pg 32-35). 

‘In this guidance where topics occur equally on and offline they are accommodated in the core content under the most applicable theme with the assumption that teachers will deliver them in a way that reflects that pupils will be negotiating issues and opportunities in these areas in all contexts, including online. Where there are topics with exclusively online content or implications this is drawn out explicitly.’

The DfE ‘s ‘Teaching Online Safety in Schools guidance document is also worth a read as Ofsted’s questions have been based around this document. Some key considerations include:

  • Do you teach your pupils how to navigate the online world safely regardless of the device, platform or app?
  • Are you aware of the risks that your children have? Are you putting appropriate provision in place for this?
  • Does your coverage consider how to support vulnerable pupils?
  • Is all the above embedded into a whole school approach?



This guidance document also discusses the use of Education for a Connected World to aid embedding a whole-school approach and ensuring the coverage of the new RSE requirements.

The Education for a Connected World framework provides guidance for teaching children to live knowledgeably, responsibly and safely in a digital world. It is split into eight categories:

  • Self-image and identity
  • Online relationships
  • Online reputation
  • Online bullying
  • Managing online information
  • Health, well-being and lifestyle
  • Privacy and security
  • Copyright and ownership

Each of these categories is then broken down further from EYFS – KS5. As a primary teacher, the first two pages from each strand are relevant to you. You can see how Kapow Primary’s Computing and RSE & PSHE schemes address the Education for a Connected World framework here.


 Kapow Primary’s Online Safety Toolkit further supports schools with their online safety provision, and includes a range of resources, including posters, an online safety checklist that pupils can share with their parents or caregivers and a set of online safety questions to aid discussion in the classroom. 

There are also several units that cover online safety including but not limited to:

It is important to know where, as professionals, you can go for support. UK Safer Internet has a dedicated helpline that offers free and independent advice for online safety issues. Within Kapow Primary’s Online Safety Toolkit, you will also find a ‘Handy hints’ for teachers offering guidance on online safety, both in and outside of school.


  • Practise safe browsing in front of your pupils.

  • Regularly share the importance of online safety with parents through your blogs, newsletters and website.

  • Discuss the importance of a strong password and how to generate them.

  • Discuss age restrictions with your pupils and the reasons behind these.

  • Ensure pupils know where they can go for help both online and offline.

  • Support parents with understanding setting restrictions for their children’s devices.

  • Emphasise the importance of thinking before you post online.

  • Remind children that anything you post online is permanent.

  • Create an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) for all pupils to sign annually.

  • Ensure you have an effective reporting system for online safety issues including cyberbullying.


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Written by:
Sarah Vaughan

Sarah has 13 years of experience teaching in a primary school and leading computing.


She now works as a Subject Matter Expert for the NCCE across the East Midlands. In this role she supports primary school with bespoke training to develop and implement their computing curriculum. Sarah facilitates computing courses for STEM and runs a series of local network meetings for computing leads.