Agenda item

Nominet digital REACH programme- Update

Ralph Jordinson, Risk and Resilience Coordinator and Louise Jefferson, Digitcal Policy Apprentice will provide the Board with an update on the Nominet digital REACH programme.


The Chair welcomed Ralph Jordinson – Risk and resilience coordinator and Louisa Jefferson - Digital policy apprentice to the meeting. Nominet REACH – Digiwise.


In March 2021 we were successful in securing in a bid to research, consult and construct a policy document for children looked after and children leaving care regarding online access. This was funding through an online organisation called Nominet, who are the leading organisation and this national programme was in partnership with parentzone, and it covers 9 interlinked projects coving 3 challenges 1) building foster carers skills and confidence,  2) embedding digital skills and support, 3) elevating young people’s voice to influence services that impact their digital safety and opportunity.


Purpose of the report was to develop a policy / best practice document for children looked after and children leaving care online access. It was noted that Care experienced young people have invaluable insight which is currently under-used in relation to digital and online safety policy development.


In terms of progress so far, the following have been undertaken:


a)      Employed an apprentice who has care experience.

b)     Project lead and the apprentice have been trained in Impact Measurement and Management and developed a ‘Theory of Change’ and young person blog. The Apprentice explained that the Theory of Change plan would identify the problems that we see for children in care and the risk for then whilst online ,and to see how we would address these issues and what the overall plan would be. The Theory of change was developed as was  a child / young person’s friendly version. Following this, after a meeting with parents (one of the key stakeholders) they suggested that a blog be created by the care leavers, explaining what is good and what improvements could be made.

c)      Consulted with young people and established the survey name: ‘Digiwise

d)     Formed a Steering Group to advise on key issues

e)     Developed an action plan which drives the project

f)       Hosted a care leavers football match and consultation event at Middlesbrough Football Community Foundation

g)      Designed and implemented a consultation survey for young people with care experience

h)     Designed a consultation survey for Foster Carers, Residential Workers and Social Workers.

i)       Is in the process of undertaking all consultation in g) and h) above


Early indications from the young peoples’ survey (17 young people took part, however the steering group has increased) showed :

·        100% are accessing the internet

·        93% access 1 or more social media account as their main activity

·        60% of the young people surveyed are going online for more than 8 hours per week,

·        87% are using their smartphone as the main device to access the internet, but choosing their own data plans over the residential home internet connection, this is because they have unlimited access data plans (this potentially poses a risk if there are no filters or controls enabled)

·        60% of young people surveyed reported that they had seen the sale of drugs on their social media

·        33% had requests to send youth produced sexual imagery (Indecent images)

·        73% had seen fake news reports


The Board heard that one of the outcomes of the project was the introduction from the UK Council of Internet Safety. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) backed tool, UKCIS Digital Passport was a new innovative communication tool to help children and young people with care experience to explore their online lives and help keep them safe in online spaces (risks outside of the home).


It has three parts which should all be used together:

        Digital Passport: An introduction

        Digital Passport: For adults and carers

        Digital Passport: For children and young people

Talking regularly about their digital lives with a trusted adult is a key way to help keep children and young people safe online. The Passport provides structure and resources to support professionals in having those conversations.


The Foster Carer survey has also been developed, and this project will continue with a survey for Foster Carers, Social Workers and Residential Workers.


The survey will identify key skills gaps in their knowledge and their experiences of young people accessing online spaces in their care.


This professionals survey was with the consultation portal and expected to be live by end of February 2022, the findings will also inform the final policy. 


Members were advised that the next update for the Board on Nominet would be in June/July 2022.


The Coordinator and Apprentice were thanked for their presentation.


AGREED- That the project update be noted.


Supporting documents: