Carol Vorderman "The priority must be the protection of children" DfES
Carol Vorderman has, for some time now, been supporting the DfES in making sure children with access to the Internet are protected from unsuitable material.
We are all aware of the dangers of unsupervised or unfiltered surfing, when viewing the web, despite its obvious benefits to education. Proxy servers can provide a high level of filtering of websites, allowing teachers to block specific sites or sites with certain features, eg. keywords in the URL or all .com addresses.
What has been less publicised, however, is the need to protect children using email. Many schools have started issuing children with personal email accounts and allowing them to send their own emails. However, while this may be suitable for older children the DfES is advising that children share an email address with their class or year group. This allows for much closer monitoring of the mail that is both sent and received and can only help protect children.
Email can be a very personal thing. If you have your own email account, it is similar to owning a mobile phone. While there, is room for the argument 'what is the educational benefit here?', it remains that communication is a very large part of the ICT National Curriculum and the National Curriculum as a whole.
It is potentially dangerous for children to set their email address free to the world, just as it would be to publish their mobile phone number.
In addition, the DfES is advising schools to think very carefully about their reasons for including pictures of children on their website. Although this is a great shame, these are the times in which we live.
Here are a few guidelines that teachers may wish to follow:
  • When photographing the uniform, lay it on some coloured paper, rather than have it modelled by children
  • A child's work could be scanned, rather than showing the child with it
  • Classes at work should, perhaps, be avoided, but could be used if children are at desks and no individual adopts a focal position
  • Never publish children in gym or swimming kit
  • Never publish full names and avoid showing names at all
  • Always seek parental permission before publishing photographs with children in, even whole class photos

    The revised guidance on emails, filtering, school websites and chat rooms can be found on the DfES's Internet Safety website at http://safety.ngfl.gov.uk