All schools will have to monitor pupils’ internet use to protect them from cyberbullying, pornography and radicalisation, under government proposals announced today.
A new set of measures, set out by education secretary Nicky Morgan, means schools will have to introduce filtering systems on their computers, and monitor internet use.
A statement from the Department for Education said “strengthened measures” were necessary because some schoolchildren who travelled or had attempted to travel to Syria had accessed material about Daesh, the militant group also known as Isis, on school computers.
Teachers will be offered training on how to keep children safe online. Since last year it has been compulsory to teach internet safety, and schools are required by law to have measures in place to prevent bullying and cyber-bullying.
“As a parent, I’ve seen just what an important role the internet can play in children’s education,” Ms Morgan said. “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 said children must be taught “how to use the internet responsibly”.
The DfE statement acknowledged that most schools already had measures in place to protect children from harm online and were already teaching pupils about internet safety.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT heateachers’ union, said: “The internet is a powerful tool but also poses obvious risks for children and young people. We think schools would welcome greater clarity on how to deploy appropriate filters and monitoring systems and that they will readily fulfil their safeguarding duties in this domain.”
David Wright, director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, said: “It’s great that online safety is being incorporated into this document. The UK Safer Internet Centre is ready to work with DfE to explore how best to support schools in meeting this new requirement.”
The department has today opened a consultation on the measures. The consultation will run until 16 February.