Because I’ve recently helped to develop our new school website, I’ve been having a look at a lots of other school websites and getting ideas from them. However, one thing that concerns me is that teachers/schools need to be a little more cautious about putting content online about their pupils. I don’t want to put teachers off creating content with their pupils and publishing it to a wider audience online, because this gives pupils a purpose to write. The NCTE offers this advice:
“It would be unfortunate if schools were frightened away from the idea of publishing a Web site after reading press reports about the potential dangers of the Internet. It is the school’s responsibility to be aware of these dangers, so that it can guard against and prevent them before they occur. Each school must take responsibility for all the content published on its Web site, being particularly cautious of the following:
• Publishing images of children
• Publishing text composed by children
• Providing e-mail or other contact details
It is recommended that schools compile a Web Safety policy before work on the school Web site commences.”
I’ve seen photographs of individual pupils on web sites, and while their name may not be placed under the photograph, the accompanying article does all but identify them. I’ve also seen photographs of groups of pupils, like the school football team, where each member of the team is identified front row and back row, left to right. This clearly makes an association between the photograph and a name/surname.
On school websites, the general rule for photographs should be that pupils appear in group photos in an educational setting; they should not be identified by name under the photo (however, it would be OK to mention the first names of pupils in a random order in the middle of an accompanying article). If pupils write an article for the school website, it should only be signed with a first name eg. John, Rang V or something similar.
Again this is the NCTE advice on this area:
•” Children’s work should appear in an educational context with a notice prohibiting the copying of such work without the expressed written permission of the school
• No home address, telephone number, contact details or personal student information should appear with such work
• The inclusion of portrait style or small group photographs should be avoided – use large group photographs if necessary
• No name, home address, telephone number, contact details or personal information should appear with student photographs
• If a Web page is inviting contact from other Internet users, use a school or class email address, not a personal one
• The school should obtain parental permission prior to publishing pupils’ work or photographs of pupils”.
Schools should look again at the way in which pupil content is published on their school website, blog, wiki or Twitter pages.
NCTE Advice Sheet on Internet Safety