Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Pupils need internet lessons to thrive online, say Lords

Girls using phones close upImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK
Learning to survive in a world dominated by the internet should be as important for children as reading and writing, says a House of Lords report.
Lessons about online responsibilities, risks and acceptable behaviour should be mandatory in all UK schools, the Lords Communications Committee argues.
The internet is "hugely beneficial" but children need awareness of its hazards, said committee chairman Lord Best.
Industry leaders said education was key to keeping children safe online.
The Lords report builds on findings by the Children's Commissioner for Englandin January that the internet is not designed for children, despite them being the biggest users by age group.
"Children inhabit a world in which every aspect of their lives is mediated through technology: from health to education, from socialising to entertainment.
"Yet the recognition that children have different needs to those of adults has not yet been fully accepted in the online world," say the Lords.

Fake news

Lord Best added: "There is a lot of material which makes the internet harmful but it can also be hugely beneficial - a way for children to interact and find out about the world."
However, they need to cope with online pornography, internet grooming, sexting and body image issues, he said, as well as building resilience to the addictive properties of internet games which are "designed and developed to keep users online, missing out on sleep as they stay in their bedrooms glued to the screen".
Children also need to be aware of the dangers of fake news and covert advertising online, he added.
The report argues that "digital literacy should be the fourth pillar of a child's education alongside reading, writing and mathematics and be resourced and taught accordingly".
It should form the core of a new curriculum for personal social health and economic education, it adds.
It backs the government's move to make sex and relationships education statutory in England but says PSHE should also be mandatory in all schools, with the subject included in inspections.
Child on bed using phone and laptopImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK
Image captionToo many teens miss out on sleep as they stay online 'glued to the screen' said Lord Best
The report notes "a worrying rise in unhappy and anxious children emerging alongside the upward trend of childhood internet use" and calls for more robust research into a "possible causal relationship" alongside immediate action to prevent children being affected.
Overall, the report says the internet should "do more to promote children's best interests" but found self regulation by industry was "failing" and that commercial interests "very often" took priority.
Meanwhile, it adds, government responsibility is "fragmented" with little co-ordinated policy and joined-up action.
Other recommendations include:
  • Content control filters and privacy settings to be "on" by default for all customers
  • All online businesses to respond quickly to requests by children to remove content
  • A children's digital champion to be appointed to argue for their rights at the highest levels of government
  • An industry summit, chaired by the prime minister, on redesigning the internet to serve children better
"This issue is of such critical importance for our children that the government, civil society and all those in the internet value chain must work together to improve the opportunities and support where the end user is a child," the Lords conclude.
The Internet Services Providers Association rejected calls for stronger regulation, while backing the report's call for better education.
James Blessing, who chairs the ISPA, said that the UK was regarded as a world leader in keeping children safe online "through a self-regulatory approach".
"We believe the most effective response is a joint approach based on education, raising awareness and technical tools," he said.
The government said it wanted to make the UK the safest place in the world for young people to go online.
"Ministers have begun work on a new internet safety strategy that will help make this a reality, and we will carefully consider the recommendations included in the Lords Communications Committee Report as part of this process," said a spokesman.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

The Mind Set from BBC Bitesize: Smart advice from exam survivors

GCSEs and Nationals are just around the corner and revision is a priority for thousands of students. Exam anxiety is reportedly at record levels, so BBC Bitesize has stepped in.

Last year, Bitesize asked students from across the UK what type of resources would help them deal with exam stress. The answer they gave us was short, shareable videos featuring young people who've recently taken their exams.  

So that’s what we’re launching today at bbc.co.uk/mindset.

The Mind Set is a group of twelve young people, from a range of social backgrounds, with mixed GCSE and Nationals results. What they have in common is the belief that they performed to their full potential, by developing the right mental attitude and taking practical steps to revise effectively.

Across twelve short films and infographics, they offer advice on a range of topics, including getting started with revision, seeking support, keeping motivated, and maintaining self-confidence. Their advice is supported by an experienced team including a leading educationalist, a GP and a high-profile psychologist.

Find out more on the The Mind Set website.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Cloud software services: how schools should protect data


Cloud software services: how schools should protect data

Data protection guidance for schools considering using cloud software services ('the cloud') to hold sensitive information.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Computing GCSE 'leaves girls and poorer students behind'

  • 19 December 2016
  • From the sectionTechnology
  • 430comments

Three pupils watch a teacher while sitting at computer screensImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

A revolution is under way in the teaching of computer science in schools in England - but it risks leaving girls and pupils from poorer backgrounds and ethnic minorities behind. That's the conclusion of academics who've studied data about the move from ICT as a national curriculum subject to computer science.
Four years ago, amid general disquiet that ICT was teaching children little more than how Microsoft Office worked, the government took the subject off the national curriculum. The idea was that instead schools should move to offering more rigorous courses in computer science - children would learn to code rather than how to do PowerPoint.
But academics at Roehampton University, who compile an annual study of computing education, have some worrying news. First, just 28% of schools entered pupils for the GCSE in computing in 2015. At A-level, only 24% entered pupils for the qualification.
Then there's the evidence that girls just aren't being persuaded to take an interest - 16% of GCSE computing entrants in 2015 were female and the figure for the A-level was just 8.5% . The qualification is relatively new and more schools - and more girls, took it in 2016 - but female participation was still only 20% for the GCSE and 10% for the A-level.
It looks as though the few that did take the exams were very focused - girls got higher grades than boys in both the GCSE and the A-level.


Carrie-Ann Philbin, a former computing teacher who works to engage children in coding at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, describes these figures as "disappointing but not surprising". She points out that we are at an early stage in developing computing education and things should improve.
But she also thinks that the way computing is often sold as if its only purpose is to turn out a generation of programmers is a problem. "This only alienates teenage girls who already have a negative idea of what it is to be a 'computer geek'."

Girl sitting at a computer screen in a classroomImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe girls that do study Computing perform better than boys in the exams

It also appears that poorer children and those from ethnic minorities are less likely to be getting the computing education the government says is vital if the UK is to have the skills it needs to compete in the digital era.
Pupils on free school meals made up just 19% of GCSE entrants, when they are 27% of the population, and just 3.6% of students were black when they make up 4.7% of that age group.
But wasn't the picture roughly similar for the old discredited ICT course? Well, no. While it is gradually being phased out, more pupils are still taking the ICT GCSE than computing, and the entrants are far more representative of the wider population. Forty-one per cent of GCSE entrants were female, and the exam had higher numbers of entries from children from low income and ethnic minority backgrounds.

Split emerging

"Computing and ICT had really quite different groups of students taking them," says Miles Berry from Roehampton. "ICT was much closer to the average in terms of gender, low income, ethnicity and prior attainment in maths."
His colleague Peter Kemp says diversity in the kind of children getting computing education is important. "We need to make sure that computer science becomes a subject at least as inclusive as the old ICT qualification. If the current disparities in access go unaddressed we risk wasting the opportunity to transform the tech industry into a more equal profession."
They both worry that schools are looking at this new subject with some scepticism and deciding that there are other priorities when budgets are tight. In schools that are offering the new A-level in computing, class sizes tend to be small, raising the prospect, says the Roehampton report, that their economic viability will be questioned under new sixth form funding arrangements.
And while many teachers supported the move towards a more rigorous form of computing education, some who warned about the danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater now feel vindicated.


Drew Buddie, an ICT teacher who also acts as an examiner for the computer science GCSE, says the new exam is just too hard for many children, and is proving very stressful for teachers too. The result, he fears, is that "whole cohorts of students are now completely switched off doing ANY computer-related GCSE." He says the content of the new course is so different that many ICT teachers just do not have the knowledge to teach it, and he fears that computer science could become a niche subject, taught in only a few schools.
The Department for Education is looking on the bright side. "The number of girls studying computer science has nearly doubled since last year and we want to see more follow their example," a spokesperson said.
The DfE went on to say that "mastering Stem skills would ensure our future workforce has the skills to drive the future productivity and economy of this country".
What it doesn't say is that computer science can be creative and fun. Perhaps those words need to be inserted into the curriculum - otherwise many pupils and teachers may decide that computing is just too hard to bother with.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Computational Thinking Resources

A series of short clips on BBC Bitesize to support pupils in understanding the fundamentals of Computational thinking.  Featured clips are on Abstraction, Algorithms, Decomposition, Evaluating Solutions, Pattern Recognition, Searching Algorithms and Sorting Algorithms. Suitable for use at key stage 3 or 4.  Click here

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Golden nuggets of teaching #TMWildern

We invite any teachers who are near Wildern School in Southampton to come and share or listen to our favourite teaching 'golden nuggets' of ideas!

Join us in The Lyceum at Wildern School from 4:30-6pm for 3 and 7 minute presentations of some of the most effective lesson starters, differentiation and questioning strategies.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Cloud software services: how schools should protect data

Data protection guidance for schools considering Using cloud software services ('the cloud') to hold sensitive information.