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“If you're playing an online game, don’t tell them your real name” 

“Don’t press or you’ll be depressed”

“Think like a criminal but don’t be one” 


This is just a snippet of the fantastic advice given by children from Nottingham who attended Primary Parliament this spring!  


For this term, the focus was on cyber safety and using critical thinking to recognise fake news and artificial intelligence online as our Primary Parliamentarians developed their very own Survival Skills for the Digital World.   In workshops led by Nottingham City Council, Ignite!, Child Friendly Nottingham, and Nottinghamshire Police, we heard from the children about their experiences of growing up in a digital world, discussed the trustworthiness of what we see online, and learnt about cybercrime and how to keep ourselves, and our information, safe and secure. 


We were joined by 27 schools at the City Council House and by 3 schools at our online Primary Parliament with 120 children in total taking part in creating Survival Skills for a Digital World.  Through performances, presentations, posters, and even a rap, the voices of Primary Parliament were very clear - we can never be too cautious when we are online.  


To start off the day at the Council House, Jon Rea from Nottingham City Council welcomed everyone to Primary Parliament and all heard three words to describe each school from the pupils.  It was really exciting getting to know everyone and having the chance to meet people from other schools who live in different parts of the city.  After our introductions, we set out the plan for the day and split into two groups to head into the workshops: Workshop 1 on artificial intelligence and cyber-crime; and Workshop 2 on thinking critically about what we see and hear online. 


Firstly, the Primary Parliamentarians worked with Aaron Simpkin (Nottingham City Council), Kirsty Jackson (Nottinghamshire Police), and Kynam Moore (Nottinghamshire Police) to learn about artificial intelligence, or AI, and cybercrime.  The children started by looking at a series of images with Aaron, challenging themselves to see if they could uncover which ones were AI-generated and which were real.  There was lots of discussion around where we might see AI images and what clues to look out for to discern whether an image is real or fake.  


Can you work out which image is real or fake?


Next, Kirsty and Kynam gave the Primary Parliamentarians an insightful talk about their jobs and the role they play in protecting and preventing people from becoming victims of cybercrime.  The pupils learned about important security measures such as protecting passwords using two-factor authentication, being aware of our digital footprints, and not sharing private information online.  Kynam even brought along his police hat for a photo opportunity!   


The Primary Parliamentarians then worked with Ekua Ghansah (Child Friendly Nottingham) and Catriona Kelly (Ignite!) to develop their critical thinking skills and discuss who and what we can trust online.  There were fantastic conversations about trusted adults and websites as well as a chance to get creative as the schools each presented a news article to the group for us to decide whether it was real or fake.  We also played the Broken Telephone game together to show how information can easily change, sometimes by misunderstanding, sometimes intentionally.    



The final part of the day at the Council House involved the Primary Parliamentarians presenting their Survival Skills for a Digital World to everyone, including our special guests, Sheriff of Nottingham Shuguftah Quddos and Bulwell Forest Councillor Cheryl Barnard.  We had some incredible presentations which included powerful messages about the dangers of AI, preventing hacking, and always speaking to a trusted adult if you feel unsure or unsafe about behaviours online. 



Our online Primary Parliament, while shorter, was also jam-packed with discussion around thinking critically about the things we see and hear online, and always keeping your information and identity safe.  The Primary Parliamentarians told us all about how they used YouTube and played online games but that they were careful not to share details about themselves with strangers.  We also tried to successfully guess the AI-generated images which was very tricky and made us all think twice!  


The online Primary Parliament concluded with the students presenting their Survival Skills for the Digital World which included, again, extremely important messages about how to stay safe online.  Through the presentations, we saw posters about trusted adults, learned about the necessity of firewalls and got some good advice about stopping to think and ask questions if something doesn’t seem right.  We also learnt from one of the students that the Emoji Movie is a great resource for learning about cyber safety. 



We had such a wonderful time at Primary Parliament this spring and look forward to hearing about how the Survival Skills for a Digital Worlds have been presented back at school.  A huge thank you to the following schools for all their hard work, creativity and insight: Ambleside, Bluebell Hill, Bulwell St Mary’s, Carrington, Crabtree Farm, Djanogly Northgate, Djanogly Sherwood, Dovecote, Edna G Olds, Forest Fields, Glade Hill, Henry Whipple, Jubilee LEAD, Mellers, Oakfield, Radford Academy, Rise Park, Robin Hood, Rose Hill, Rosslyn Park, Rufford, Snape Wood, Sneinton St Stephen’s, St Mary’s Hyson Green, St Teresa’s, Victoria, Whitemoor, and Woodlands Academy. 


The Spring 2024 Primary Parliament was generously supported by ChalleNGe.

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