Schools in England must set online filters and monitor pupils’ internet use under plans to protect children from cyber bullying and radicalisation, education secretary Nicky Morgan said.
Ministers are concerned young people can access material about Daesh and could be targeted by extremists via school computers.
Under the proposals published this week, all schools will need to have appropriate filters and monitoring systems, so that no child can access harmful content via the school’s IT systems and concerns can be spotted quickly.
Morgan said: “As a parent I’ve seen just what an important role the internet can play in children’s education. 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.
“This includes ensuring young people know how to use the internet responsibly and that parents and teachers have the right measures in place to keep children safe from exploitation or radicalisation.
“These measures are delivering on the government’s commitment to keep children safe from harm, as well as providing helpful support and information for professionals and parents so we are all equipped to help protect children in this digital age.”
The government made internet safety a compulsory part of the new curriculum in 2014. Schools can also teach e-safety during PSHE lessons and they are all required by law to have measures in place to prevent bullying and cyber bullying.
Schools already play a vital role in keeping children safe from harm online, including from the risks of radicalisation and cyber bullying. The majority of schools already have measures in place to protect children from harm online and are also teaching their pupils about the safeguarding risks that exist:
Brook Green Centre for Learning, a special school in Plymouth, Devon, has implemented a range of e-safety measures to ensure their pupils are protected. This includes a robust IT filtering system and a whole school approach to online safety with dedicated curriculum time as well as parent and carer training.
Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, 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.