St Peters Catholic Primary School

St Peters Catholic Primary School




Background to the Dot Com
Learning Programme

The learning programme is an innovative approach to learning about personal behaviour and safety for seven to eleven-year-olds. It is designed to tackle behavioural issues including bullying, crime and disorder, social inclusion, racism and good citizenship.

The programme is unique - delivering learning through the medium of a web site cartoon character � Miss Dorothy Com or Dot Com to her friends and family.

The Foundation is a registered charity dedicated to increasing children's understanding of feeling safe and promoting behaviours that contribute to a safe environment. The charity�s mission statement is:

To advance the education of people under the age of 16 and to relieve sickness, disability, poverty, cruelty and hardship."

The learning programme was recently endorsed by the Prime Minister and is designed as a cross-curricular teaching resource to deliver structured lessons within PSHE, Citizenship, ICT, English lessons and literacy hour. Schools are clearly aware that Section 175 of the Education Act requires them to take on greater statutory responsibility for teaching PSHE from April 2003. has established a new national education brand to raise awareness of child safety and basic learning standards. The learning programme integrates three main elements to develop sustained interest in learning, increased school attendance and reduction in bullying:

  1. Web site interaction with Dot as the messenger to engage children
  2. A cross-curricular individual learning pack with graphic, illustrated lessons
  3. A thrilling drama production reinforcing key messages on child safety

 Teachers report its great success in stimulating a new enthusiasm for learning. The project is being measured academically and shows clear improvement in literacy, numeracy and co-ordination skills; lower levels of truancy; improved social behaviour; reduction in bullying; greater attention during lessons; and, importantly, an increase in the self-esteem of pupils.



  • is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse.
  • has proved children take messages on board if they relate to the messenger.
  • has developed a totally safe web site for Key Stage 2 children -, with its daily diary, news service, adventure and safe e-mail service offering support. All this is linked to a unique, high-quality workbook for each child.
  • The pack has completed successful pilots in Essex, Durham and Liverpool involving 3,000 children and is now being rolled out in LEAs across the country.
  • Results from the pilot schools include raising awareness of safety issues among young children; raising the confidence and self-esteem of individuals; reduction in bullying; a drop in absenteeism; an increase in interest in lessons and improvements in literacy, numeracy and coordination skills. The programme also builds trust between teacher and pupil and vulnerable children have found new confidence to ask for help.
  • At the end of the five-to-ten weeks of lessons based on the pupil�s workbook, children are treated to a spectacular drama reinforcing key messages about how to be safe and performed by the National Youth Theatre.
  • The key is learning-by-fun using the cartoon character 'Dot Com' as the messenger to engage children. Youngsters are taught how to identify the signs of risks to their safety and the actual risks themselves.


  • The packs are aimed at Key Stage 2 children.
  • The lessons in the pack use the web site child character, Dot Com (hence as the messenger to engage the child.
  • The lessons connect to the web site learning games and activities where children can converse with Dot and her friends.
  • The pack is a high quality product with strong graphic illustrations.
  • It is valued as the personal possession of the individual child � enhancing self-esteem.
  • The style is 'learning-by-fun' and teachers report that this greatly increases attentiveness and provides the most retentive results.
  • The programme can cover five to 10 weeks of lessons to suit teachers and enables the child to identify the signs and risks to its safety.


The Charitable Foundation is dedicated to the protection of children and the prevention of child abuse. The charity achieves this by raising the self-esteem of children and helping them understand they have a right to be safe. Publishing, which supports the charity, has developed a unique learning programme for schools that features a cartoon character called �Dot Com� to her friends. Dot was created to facilitate a learning-by-fun approach through internet technology, classroom activity and drama.

Dot has her own totally safe web site linked to a high-quality learning resource called �The Helping Hands Pack.' A personal exercise book is provided to each child along with supporting materials compiled by leading educationists. Learning pack and website work together to help children understand their feelings and tackle behavioural issues such as bullying, crime and disorder, social inclusion, racism and good citizenship.

The pack takes five to ten weeks to teach and encourages children to discuss their feelings and write or draw about their personal life. Teachers can also use Dot�s family and friends to help children think about their family life and to facilitate class discussion for circle time and other classes.

Once they have completed the exercise book the children are treated to a spectacular drama, performed by the National Youth Theatre, featuring the Dot characters and reinforcing key messages learned from the pack. The web site is used regularly during the programme to ensure pupils continue their relationship with Dot after the pack is completed.

The programme is aimed at Key stage 2 children (7-11 year olds). After the pack is completed a book can be ordered every year to revisit the messages and also track the development of pupils and continue to build self-esteem,


Dot Com was created by TV news presenter Sharon Doughty, who was herself a child victim of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Sharon was an only child who suffered abuse until the age of seven. Her experience of growing up in a house where there was constant fear left her with learning difficulties. She could not read or tell the time in her early days at school, because children who do not feel safe at home find it very difficult to learn. Dot is the friend Sharon dreamed of having when she was isolated and alone.

After a career in television Sharon became involved in consultancy on domestic violence and child welfare issues. She has now dedicated her life to finding innovative methods of teaching children how to be safe and of training professionals involved in the welfare of young people.



While making a documentary on the Internet with director, Roger Mills (Director of Round the World in Eighty Days with Michael Palin), Sharon realised there was little advice for children on how to use the worldwide web safely. She created the web site, a totally safe arena for young people, featuring Dot Com as the central character. Dot Com has proved that children take on board the message, if they identify with the messenger. The site was launched in December 1999 and is now a safe haven for thousands of children from more than 40 countries receiving as many as 20,000 visitors a day. Among many features, the site includes a news service specifically adapted for children, Dot's Daily Diary and her weekly adventure to read, as well as a safe e-mail service offering support.

Dot is also linked to Brownies and Girlguiding UK and has her own page in Brownie magazine.


The National Youth Theatre helped devise the play in collaboration with Sharon Doughty and it can be performed in local theatres or appropriate school premises. It is a valuable opportunity for children to experience firsthand a quality drama performed by young professional actors from a variety of ethnic and social backgrounds to which all children can aspire. The play brings to life all the web site characters in specially-designed costumes, and reinforces the key messages introduced in the 'Helping Hands' pack.