Teachers ‘forced to act as Big Brother’

The TES is reporting that critics say parents and pupils are kept in the dark about snooping software used to monitor students’ computer use.

Figures, obtained under Freedom of Information requests by the campaign group, show that of 1,420 secondary schools in England and Wales which provided data, 1,000 said that they use so-called classroom management software packages.

But the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch has raised concerns that many parents and students are unaware that the technology has been installed, and that teachers are being forced to keep tabs on their pupils’ online activity.

In its report, Big Brother Watch said that schools often consider buying the software to keep pupils safe online, or as part of their duty to help protect children from radicalisation.

But it added: “Forcing staff to oversee their pupils’ every digital move represents a fundamental shift from the traditional method of overseeing pupils by engaging with them from the front of the class.”

Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Computer monitoring software is used in schools to safeguard the welfare of children and young people by ensuring that they are not exposed to damaging online material.

“There is no secrecy about the use of this sort of software in schools. Pupils are very much aware of rules about computer use and most schools have policies which are available to parents.”

Read more: Teachers ‘forced to act as Big Brother’

Do you think schools are right to monitor what children are looking at online or is this overstepping their responsibility? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. ~ Sophie

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