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The Internet

Making effective use of Internet resources
The Internet is a valuable resource that can raise educational standards by offering pupils and teachers opportunities to search for information from a very wide range of sources based throughout the world. The Internet offers opportunities for pupils and teachers to communicate and collaborate in a variety of ways.

As with any school resource, ICT needs to be organised and managed to maximise its effectiveness and the contribution it can make to developing and supporting the educational policies of the school. The means by which a school accesses the Internet and how the Internet is distributed around the school is a policy and funding matter for the school, and possibly for the LEA as a member of a Regional Broadband Consortia.

Whatever means is chosen, it is essential to provide teachers and pupils with a reliable service with the fastest possible access that the school can afford. As bandwidth increases, all computer rooms, school libraries and resource centres, and individual classrooms will need to be provided with access to the Internet. In most schools, such access will be achieved through the school network thus integrating the provision of school-based resources with those available from the Internet.

The Becta get connected web site provides a useful range of information and guidance on networking technologies, including broadband. Within the Becta building the grid website there is a useful link to the Regional Broadband Consortia websites.

Making safe use of the Internet
The Naace/BCS publication 'Promoting the Responsible Use of the Internet in Schools' identifies some important issues concerning the use of the Internet. The Internet is a vast electronic library, offering much scope for extending school studies and for research. However, the Internet is also dynamic, anarchic and uncensored. The material available varies hugely in quality. Some of it is heavily biased, inaccurate, misleading or corruptive. Some material relates to the misuse of drugs and the promotion of violence, intolerance, racism and extreme political and social views. Some material is pornographic.

Young people will benefit considerably from being able to communicate easily with other people around the world. Not only will they make contact on a social basis, but they may also be able to make contact with other adults and young people in connection with their studies. The opportunity to contact other people in different social or geographical contexts is particularly powerful. However, the use of the Internet for communication via email, chatrooms and newsgroups allows anonymity and therefore scope for misrepresentation or misintent.

Parents will expect schools to promote high standards in relation to the use of computers and the Internet. They will expect schools to develop the same levels of responsibility in pupils in this area as in any other. The Internet presents schools with organisational and management problems, and extends the scope for misuse. There are educational, management and technical solutions which can help to minimise the risk of the inappropriate use of the Internet.

The DfES has specified that a policy to prevent pupils accessing unsuitable materials is essential. The policy will help to define appropriate and acceptable use by both staff and pupils and offer a focus for discussion and development of a school approach to these issues.

Sources of advice on this subject remind us that technical solutions go only so far in dealing with the problems. There is a crucial role for educating children in responsible attitudes towards the use of the Internet. Schools will need to help children to develop skills and responsible attitudes necessary to deal with the unexpected and to use the Internet safely.

The Naace/BCS publication 'Promoting the Responsible Use of the Internet in Schools' offers an approach based upon education, management and technical strategies.
Guidance is provided on the content of a school Internet Access Policy, and provides an example of an Acceptable Internet Use Statement.


Useful Links


A group of documents to do with making the Internet safe (DfES)
School Internet Safety Policy documents (Kent)
Think-U-know - website to advise children on using web chat


Downloadable files  
  Acceptable use policies and home to school contracts
Promoting the responsible use of the Internet in schools (Naace/BCS 1999)