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Children: Internet

Volume 489: debated on Tuesday 17 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what guidance his Department gives to schools and colleges on ways to promote online safety and security as part of information technology classes; (263937)

(2) what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of courses on information technology in schools and colleges in promoting the safe and secure use of the internet;

(3) what information school pupils are given as part of classes on information technology on measures to protect their computer systems from external threats.

As the Government’s lead agency for technology in schools, Becta have provided advice to schools and colleges on issues of e-safety since 1998. This advice enables schools to assess pupils within their normal local and national practices—key stage tests and examinations.

The revised secondary curriculum level descriptors contain intrinsic references to e-safety in the ICT programme of study and there are also references in other curriculum areas, for example in Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHEE).

Becta is working with the QCA and Sir Jim Rose to ensure that the primary curriculum adequately reflects the skills, knowledge and understanding that children need to develop to stay safe online.

In addition, there are a number of freely available national resources for learners and teachers to develop skill and capability, for example, Childnet’s know-it-all resources. The National Strategies have also recently developed new materials on e-safety; these materials have been distributed through local authorities and conferences and have been well received. The materials focus primarily on the more technical aspects of e-safety for example protecting data, understanding firewalls etc.

Ofsted have recently published the School Self Evaluation—A Response to the Byron Review which made reference to schools having good acceptable use policies. It highlighted the need for schools to be better at evaluating the effectiveness of these policies. Becta recently published its revised advice in relation to acceptable use policies to support schools and other institutions where children have access to technology in developing and evaluating good policies and practices.