Mrs Shorrocks

Screentime and Wellbeing – Guidance for Parents

 Community Links, esafety, Student Council, Uncategorized, Whole School  Comments Off on Screentime and Wellbeing – Guidance for Parents
Feb 212017

Screen Time and Wellbeing


There has been much interest in the amount of time our teenagers spend online and looking at a screen and speculation about the possible impact on their wellbeing.  Particular concerns have arisen about the light that is emitted from our mobile devices and how these affect our brains and our ability to sleep.  This concerned us here at Alfriston because lack of sleep affects the memory and learning capability of our pupils.

However, recent research, from Oxford University, suggested that screen time can have significant beneficial effects on young users.  They found that digital connectivity enhanced creativity, communication skills and development.  They suggested that there is an optimal amount of screen time or a “Goldilocks” zone as they put it, about two hours on a smartphone each day, for example.


Our Survey

We decided to ask our pupils what they thought about some of these issues and to formulate some guidance for parents.


The Student Council formulated some questions and issued a questionnaire to our pupils.

Do you enjoy using the Internet?

Do you think the Internet is mostly safe or unsafe?

Do you think using a computer or tablet etc late at night interferes with your sleep?

Do you talk to your parents or other adults about the things you do on the internet?

How long do you think it is reasonable to be using your device each day?

From what time do you think it would be reasonable for parents to say you must stop using your device?

Is it OK to use your device at the dinner table?

Is it OK to use your device when there are visitors to your home?

Is it OK to use your device secretly (eg without your parents knowing)?

Is it reasonable that your parents or other adults should be able to look on your device to see what you have been doing?

Have you ever been bullied online?

Have you ever been mean to somebody else online?


Our Findings

We were not surprised to find that the vast majority of pupils enjoyed using the Internet.  However, it was surprising that so many of them considered that, on the whole, the Internet is unsafe.

chart 1 chart 2







This seems to underline the importance of making sure that parents and other adults are equipped to support our pupils through their online experiences.

Most pupils also assessed that using their devices late at night did affect their ability to sleep well

chart 3






Additionally, the majority of pupils were also accepting of the idea that it was reasonable to limit the amount of time and the latest time that they should be allowed to use their devices.

chart 5 chart 4







When it came to questions of netiquette, our pupils also had some clear cut views, although they were divided on whether parents should look on their devices to see what they were up to.


chart 6 chart 7 chart 8 chart 9











It was pleasing to find that the number of pupils who consider that they have been bullied online is relatively small and the number who admit to being mean to others is even smaller.


chart 10 chart 11







Nonetheless, any amount of bullying is too much and we should all work hard to ensure that the Internet is a positive and pleasant place to visit.

The theme of Safer Internet Day 2017 was “Unite for a better Internet” and we encouraged our pupils to do just that.  They can assess their own contributions by asking themselves 3 simple questions:

  • Is it true?
  • Is it necessary?
  • Is it kind?

If the answer is no at any point then they should not post, share or send.

With the results of this survey in mind, and other research findings, we have put together some guidance notes for parents and carers and hope that you will find these useful.

Screen Time and Wellbeing

Guidance for parents

  • Don’t prevent your daughter from going online and don’t block everything that might interest her
  • Be a good parent. Know where your daughter goes online, what she is doing and who with
  • Engage with your daughter in the online world – keep a dialogue going about what you each do on the Internet. Create an environment where she is happy to talk about what she does online.  Don’t wait until there is a problem before you start talking about it.
  • Respect one another’s privacy as far as possible – the extent to which you do so will depend on your relationship with her and her maturity
  • Share your knowledge about how to keep safe and your expectations for kind and positive behaviour
    • Be a good role model in everything from privacy settings to the content of your posts
  • Have rules which you both agree to:
    • No devices during dinner
    • No devices in the bedroom
    • Limit the use of devices when you have visitors
    • No devices after 9pm – or earlier if your daughter goes early to bed – allow 1 hour of screen-free time before bed
    • No pictures of others unless they have agreed
  • Aim for a daily limit of 4 hours of computer time, 2 hours on a smartphone and less on online games
  • Know how to react to instances of cyberbullying
    • Don’t over react, never retaliate: report, block and keep a record



In addition, please read the topical and very helpful blog from Parent Info which is streamed to our Facebook page:, where you can also see our Twitter feed and read the school blog.



Jan 162017

The School Council members have been talking about our use of technological devices and how it impacts on our lives.  We are thinking of writing some guidelines for parents about the sort of rules they should impose at home.  The girls are collecting opinions via pastoral groups and some girls are completing more detailed questionnaires.


It seems to be a very hot topic at the moment and there were articles in the national press just this weekend.  There has been concern about how screen time affects mental health and general wellbeing.  Here at Alfriston, we have been particularly concerned about effects on sleep patterns.


However, this latest research, from Oxford University, suggests that screen time can have beneficial effects on young users.  They claim that digital connectivity may enhance creativity, communication skills and development.  They suggest that there is an optimal amount of screen time or a “Goldilocks” zone as they put it, about two hours on a smartphone each day, for example.


It will be interesting to see what our pupils think on the matter.  If you have any strong opinions or just want to comment on your experiences with your own children, I would be pleased to hear from you.


We hope to publish our guidelines in time for Safer Internet Day on February 7th.



Please address any comments to Ros Shorrocks on

The Hour of Code is here!

 Community Links, computing, Curriculum, Uncategorized, Whole School  Comments Off on The Hour of Code is here!
Dec 062016


There aren’t many computer science weeks so we decided to make a big thing of it by inviting students from Stony Dean to join us for shared activities.   At first the boys joined Year 10 to explore the Hour of Code website and try out some of the coding activities.  The choices ranged from Disney’s Moana, Star Wars and Frozen, Minecraft and Flappy Bird.  Both the girls and the boys were nervous about working together at first but they soon forgot that they didn’t know each other and got down to coding.

Digital Camera

By the time the lesson changeover was ringing everyone was enjoying what they were doing and making good progress with the task.  The girls moved on to the next lesson but the boys stayed on to work with
a Year 9 class coming in to Computing.  By now they really were the experts and rose admirably to the challenge of sharing their skills with the beginners in Year 9.  These new pairings made rapid progress, completing activities and earning certificates.

Digital Camera

It was great to see pupils from the two schools working together so well and impressive to hear them chatting about computer science; solving problems and making things happen.

Digital Camera

Sound like fun? Visit

Report from the Hockey Festival

 Community Links, Sport  Comments Off on Report from the Hockey Festival
Nov 302016

Hockey Alf 7

On Wednesday 23rd November, Chiltern Way Academy hosted a Hockey Festival for schools in the local area. The Festival was run by Alfriston School Sports Leaders alongside Miss Johnson.  All of the participants had a great day while getting engaged with the games as well as introducing themselves to pupils of neighbouring schools. The participants were divided into teams and the sports leaders led each team in an activity. These teams included players from each of the four schools. After a short break the pupils were put back into school teams and they all participated in a Hockey Tournament.

Alfriston drew two matches and won one.

The morning was a success as pupils were encouraged to communicate with each other during and between the games. This was a good method for them to “break the ice” with new people and be able to work as a team. Everyone involved enjoyed the afternoon and hopes to do it again soon.

The next event will be the year 7 and 8’s dance festival.

Do you want your Christmas to start early?

 Community Links, parental involvement, Whole School  Comments Off on Do you want your Christmas to start early?
Nov 242016

On Friday 2nd December our school will be holding a Christmas Bazaar in the hall. There will be fun games and food to eat. We will be raising money for our school and local charities. You will be able to buy crafts, cards and calendars. We will also have a tombola, hamper raffle and a cafe. The students get to go in first and need to bring a plastic bag. Parents can come along at 10.15 to 12.45. Come along and join the fun!


by Ionie

This Week is Road Safety Week

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on This Week is Road Safety Week
Nov 212016

Five people are killed every single day by something we already know how to cure. Our roads are dangerous places, where hundreds of deaths and serious injuries take place every week.

But by changing our driving behaviour, we can help to make our villages, towns and cities safer places to be. Every action that we take, as a driver or as a passenger, can change the outcome of a journey and the future of a family.

That’s why there’s a focus on the six elements of the Brake Pledge for Road Safety Week 2016 (21-27 November): Slow, Sober, Secure, Silent, Sharp and Sustainable.

We are asking everyone to make and share Brake’s Pledge online, and show their commitment to saving lives and keeping our roads safe. Anyone can join in – individuals, businesses and community organisations. Non-drivers can take the Pledge too, promising to help drivers stick to the six Pledge points.

So take action, make a difference, and Pledge to do six simple things to save lives this Road Safety Week.

A few facts on why the theme is important:

Slow: Breaking the speed limit or travelling too fast for the conditions is recorded by police at crash scenes as a contributory factor in more than one in four (27%) fatal crashes in Great Britain.

Sober: Having even one drink before getting behind the wheel can affect your ability to drive. In 2013 one in 10 (11%) drivers/motorcycle riders killed in a crash had alcohol present in their body, even though they weren’t over the legal blood-alcohol limit. One in seven road deaths are at the hands of someone who has driven while over the limit.

Secure: Seat belts are still seen as an inconvenience by some drivers, yet using one reduces the chance of dying in a crash by 50%. 21% of car occupants killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt [5].

Silent: Drivers who perform a complex secondary task, like using a mobile, while at the wheel are three times more likely to crash than non-distracted drivers.

Sharp: Booking in for a regular eye test should be at the top of any driver’s to-do list. Road crashes caused by poor driver vision are estimated to cause 2,900 casualties and cost £33 million in the UK per year.

Sustainable: By minimising the amount we drive, and walking, cycling or using public transport instead, we are making our communities safer places, and doing the best we can for the environment and our individual health. Air pollution is a major killer: there are an estimated 29,000 deaths per year from particulate matter pollution in the UK, 5,000 of which are attributable to road transport.


To help our girls be seen after dark, we are selling refelective items in the kiosk now.

Star clips                        £1.40

Zip clips                          £0.60

Smile badges                   £1.00

Reflective laces              £1.00

Reflective stickers         £0.15


zip-clip-at-night star-clipon-all badge-smile


 Uncategorized  Comments Off on WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT BULLYING?
Nov 212016

Last week was Anti-Bullying Week. The pupose of the focus week is to shine a spotlight on bullying and encourage all children, teachers and parents to take action against bullying throughout the year.

So this week, pupils are talking about bullying in PSHE lessons, thinking about the real meaning of the word and how it can be avoided. They will be coming up with strategies to deal with bullying in different situations.

Pupils in Year 7 & 8 will be taking part in a poster competition with prizes for each year group. The focus for the competition this year is WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT BULLYING?

We look forward to lots of great entries.


Mrs Dean


Be Safe on Bonfire Night

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Nov 032016

Follow these top tips to stay safe on bonfire night as researched by girls during Thursday block sessions:

Keep fireworks in a closed box
Follow the instructions on each firework
Light all fireworks at arm’s length
Stand well back
Never go back to a lit firework
Never put fireworks in your pocket
Never throw fireworks
Keep Pets indoors
Sparklers can be beautiful and enjoyable for young children but adults must be aware of their potential. Sparklers are the cause of a disproportionate number of injuries but only a few simple precautions are necessary.
Always supervise children with sparklers.
Teach them to hold the sparkler at arms length, but not near anyone else
Sparklers are not for the under 5s. They will be labeled as such and it is your responsibility.
Have a container of water handy, big enough for the spent sparkler. Dump the sparkler in it as soon as it goes out.

They also found out that last year 19.6 million firework injuries were reported at A&E departments.
Last year most injuries that occurred were burns, primarily to the hands, fingers, head, face, eyes and ears.

The girls then made videos to get their messages across.

Watch this video which some of them made today or take a look at ROSPA’s website for further information.

Our library is open!

 English, Whole School  Comments Off on Our library is open!
Nov 032016

library1In November, we officially launched our new library with special guest Sophie Christiansen.

Sophie did a fantastic assembly about her life, the difficulties she has overcome and her success winning gold medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympics. Students asked some really thoughtful questions and we were all really encouraged by Sophie’s message of determination and always keeping a sense of humour!

Each student took home a special cake to mark the occasion. These, and the fabulous book cake in the picture were fabulously made by the Food Technology team. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the library and launch.

Keep reading!

Nov 012016

When the fabulous boyband Boycode agreed to visit Alfriston, we were delighted not just because of their entertainment value but also because of the important message they brought about online safety and cyberbullying.

They didn’t claim to be experts but since they were at school just a few years ago, they felt they knew first hand exactly what pressures the girls might be under and they urged the girls to make the right decisions in life with respect to online safety, bullying and discrimination.
Their top tips for online safety were:
• Never give out personal information, such as telephone numbers, home address or details about your school, college or place of work – sometimes you don’t know who will end up with this information and what they could do with it.
• Never agree to meet someone you are in contact with over the internet. Remember, not everyone is who they say they are. If you don’t know who they are, how do you know they are a real person? People can easily set up fake profiles, with a picture that isn’t of them (use a story) – Catfish the TV show on MTV – Shows how many people actually pretend to be other people on the Internet, you don’t know that you are actually speaking to that person
• If someone says something that makes you feel upset, uncomfortable or threatened, save the messages but do not respond. Then tell a parent/carer/or report it online – If you respond you can make things worse and escalate the situation. Make the right decision and be the bigger person
• Never send pictures of yourself or any of your friends or family to anyone you meet online that you wouldn’t want other people to see. Once you send it, it could be sent/shown to other people, so if you wouldn’t want other people to see it – don’t send it!
• Follow the rules your parents/carers have set when using the internet
• Remember – spending too much time online can effect concentration, education, sleep and health
• Keep your profiles private – Check your privacy settings and keep everything private so not strangers can see any of your personal information
Report it and block it if you find something on the internet that makes you feel uncomfortable or worried.
They also offered some helpful advice just in case the girls do fall victim to cyber bullying:

What to do

• Ignore— If you’re the victim of “minor teasing or name calling” ignore it if you can avoid it. Sometimes bullies are encouraged by seeing a reaction and the situation can become a lot worse.
• Record—Keep a record of bullying messages you receive. If you can show an adult either the messages themselves or a diary of when you received them, it may be easier to verify what went on and who the bully was.
• Reach out—Your parents, your teachers, your friends, and even police officers can help you deal with cyber bullying or discrimination. Speak to people that you trust. There is no reason to suffer alone when you are the target of bullying.
• Cut off the bully—The National Crime Prevention Council advises victims to stop all communication with the bully when possible. If it’s cyber bullying you may be able to block their phone number so you no longer receive their calls or texts. Facebook and twitter etc allow you to block other users so that they can no longer interact with you.
Report It— You can also report If you’re being bullied via a website, chances are that the bully is going against the website’s terms of use. Youtube, facebook etc have safety centres where you can report the activity and sometimes get the bully kicked off the site.


What Not to Do
• Sink to the bully’s level. Starting your own cyberbullying campaign against the bully will get you nowhere, it will only potentially make the situation worse
• Forward bullying content or messages. If someone sends you a bullying message, forwarding it to a friend only expands the problem. You never know how far an email chain can go.
• Believe the bully. Don’t let bullies destroy your self-esteem. No one deserves to be harassed. Bullies are cowards and their actions are often more about their own problems than they are about you. When bullying gets you down, talk about it with someone you trust who can build you back up.

Since the boys’ visit we have had an internet safety week in school when all the girls reflected on questions related to cyberbullying. In the upper school, pupils heard about the tragic story of Felix Alexander and the heart breaking open letter his mother wrote to the press. We all agreed that we should commit to BE KIND online and that if we are feeling bullied or lonely, it is so important to talk to someone about our feelings.
This is what Sophie wrote to Felix’s mum:

Dear Mrs Alexander

I am really sorry for your loss. I will try to be the better person and be kind to my friend and not hurt their feelings I will support my friends in every way even if they are going through hard time. If they are being bullied and together we can tell someone or ChildLine. I will do everything to stop them killing them self. I will never post any unkind messages to anyone.  If we all remember to be kind there will be no more cyberbullying ever. It is very important to talk to someone if you are worried or getting bullied and remember there is always someone you can talk to.

From Sophie

Meanwhile, if you want to hear Boycode for yourself of follow their progress you can find them on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.