Swindon-based vehicle leasing and fleet management company Arval is sponsoring a child internet safety programme in three schools in the town.
From September around 60, nine and 10-year-old children in each school will receive training on some of the many dangers of the internet such as online bullying and child grooming.
Organised by the Police Community Clubs, the initiative – which uses cartoon characters called Barney and Echo to get the message across – is targeted at children before they make the transition from junior to secondary school where research shows they are more likely to have access to the internet and be influenced by older children.
Swindon schools taking part are Toothill Primary School, Oliver Tomkins Junior School and Lainesmead Primary School. Three schools in Birmingham, where Arval also has an office, are also joining the scheme.
Materials to be used include Ofsted-approved, teacher-friendly lesson plans and teacher guides, as well as a selection of large posters for the classroom which highlight key messages from the programme.
Children will be able to practice the scheme's safety skills in classroom-based drama activities under the guidance of their teachers. They will also receive access to a new mobile app called Dizzy Heights – an interactive game in which they answer questions on internet safety to progress through various stages.
Arval corporate and social responsibility manager Tracey Fuller said: “Technology clearly now plays an important role in children’s lives and the internet is a fantastic learning and entertainment tool. However, it comes with a range of risks and we hope to help local school pupils to stay safe online through the sponsorship of this programme.”