The Department for Education (DfE) has proposed a comprehensive plan that tightens control of Internet usage by children at schools, which includes the monitoring of everything kids do online and installation of content filters.
The plans are aimed at fighting extremism and radicalisation of children, following several cases of kids travelling or trying to travel to Syria. In one of the latest cases, in February, three schoolgirls from Bethnal Green Academy flew from Gatwick to Istanbul en route to Syria to become “jihadi brides.” There is, however, no evidence they were radicalised at school.
The proposals have been put online for a consultation, which will conclude in February 2016.
“As a parent I’ve seen just what an important role the Internet can play in children’s education,” said the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan. “But it can also bring risks, which is why we must do everything we can to help children stay safe online—at school and at home.”
She added that the proposals can also help in dealing with online pornography and cyber bullying.
“Governing bodies and proprietors should be confident that systems are in place that will identify children accessing or trying to access harmful and inappropriate content online,” the proposal reads. It also warns that the governing bodies “should be careful that ‘over blocking’ does not lead to unreasonable restrictions as to what children can be taught with regards to online teaching and safeguarding.”
Under the new plans, schools will not only have to install content filters and monitoring systems, but also come up with a way to control the usage of smartphones and tablets in the classroom. A spokesman for the DfE told IBTimes UK that it would be up to the individual school to decide on what this would look like.
Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said that many UK schools have similar systems in place anyway, so one of the goals of the new proposal is to bring “greater clarity” on the process of their deployment. There’s currently no word on who will pay for the deployment of new systems for snooping on school kids; presumably we’ll find out more after the consultation.
Sally Bates, a head teacher and the NAHT’s chair of policy,told the BBC that the schools may have to “rethink” the way they deal with technology nowadays.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, US presidential candidate Donald Trump has taken a similar tack to the UK’s Department for Education, calling for ISIS (Daesh/ISL) to be banned from the Internet to prevent the radicalisation of kids. The petition to prevent Trump from entering the UK now has over 500,000 signatures.
SOURCE: Andrii Degeler | Ars Technica