As part of the school’s ICT programme we offer pupils supervised access to the Internet, the global network of computers you will have read about and seen on television. Before being allowed to use the Internet, all pupils must obtain parental permission and both they and you must sign and return the enclosed form as evidence of your approval and their acceptance of the school rules on this matter.
Access to the Internet will enable pupils to explore thousands of libraries, databases, and bulletin boards while exchanging messages with other Internet users throughout the world. Families should be warned that some material accessible via the Internet might contain items that are illegal, defamatory, inaccurate or potentially offensive to some people.
Whilst our aim for Internet use is to further educational goals and objectives, pupils may find ways to access other materials as well. We believe that the benefits to pupils from access to the Internet, in the form of information resources and opportunities for collaboration, exceed any disadvantages. But ultimately, parents and guardians of minors are responsible for setting and conveying the standards that their children should follow when using media and information sources. To that end, the school supports and respects each family’s right to decide whether or not to apply for access.
During school, teachers will guide pupils toward appropriate materials. Outside of school, families bear the same responsibility for such guidance as they exercise with information sources such as television, telephones, movies, radio and other potentially offensive media.
What is the Internet?
The Internet is a large number of computers all over the world linked together with cables. In most cases, each of these computers is also linked locally to a number of other computers, in a local network. It is possible for someone using one of these computers to access information on any of the other computers. This system was established by those working in Universities and Government organisations for the fast and efficient transfer of largely text-based information around the world directly from one computer to another.
It is possible for other people, outside these local networks, to connect to the Internet by using standard telephone lines between their computers and those already connected to the Internet. A number of companies specialise in providing this service for a fee.
What is the World Wide Web?
To make the appearance of information available through the Internet more attractive, and to assist people in finding information mare easily, it is now possible for special pages of information to contain text, colours, and pictures, sound and even video. These pages, collectively, make up what is known as the World Wide Web. Most of these pages include information on the location of other pages on the World Wide Web, and it is possible to follow up links between pages with similar or related content. Moving from one page to another, regardless of where in the world they might be located, is called browsing, or surfing the net or web. Many of these Web pages contain information that may be useful in the classroom, and it is presented in a way which is often easy to use.
A number of UK suppliers including BT and Research Machines, offer schools the facility of keeping their own pages on the Internet. These school “home pages” might describe the school’s activities to outsiders or explain project work that pupils are involved in.
What is Electronic Mail (E-mail)?
This is merely a way of sending messages from one person to another via the Internet. Each Internet user has a unique e-mail address (such as firstname.lastname@example.org) and by sending a message to this address, the recipient can read the message the next time he or she connects to the internet. Internet e-mail addresses are usually provided along with a schools’ connection to the internet and normally individual pupils will not have their own email address.
What are News Groups?
These are collections of messages written for public readership rather than addressed to an individual. Each collection, or group, of messages is about a particular subject or theme.
Individuals can reply to these messages, and these replies are also public. In this way it is possible to track a multi-way conversation about an important issue of the day. At present there are more than 20,000 different topics available for discussion, from speclialist Science research to support groups for asthma to fans of James Bond movies. Most of press concern for pornography on the Internet refers to newsgroups but they are the easiest for school Internet providers to police.
What are the dangers of the Internet referred to in the media?
It is true that there is some material on the Internet that would be offensive to most people, such as pornography, racist and fascist material and this can be accessed by children if using the Internet unsupervised. The main educational providers try to ‘filter’ known offensive locations of material of this kind, but there is too much for this filtering to be very effective, and the locations change frequently. The only way to block access to this kind of material is to have a restricted range of pages available, in which case many of the advantages of the global and dynamic nature of the internet may be lost. It is a feature of the Internet that the information available is free. Increasing restrictions will undoubtedly lead to systems of charging for access to specific material, in addition to the other costs described. An alternative system is to educate pupils and encourage an acceptable use policy and partnership between home and school in dealing with the less savoury side of Internet use.
How can I get more information?
There are many magazines in newsagents that cater for beginners-advanced use of the Internet. If you have any specific questions please contact the school and ask for the ICT co-ordinator.
Pupil access to the Internet
The school encourages use by pupils of the rich information resources available on the Internet, together with the development of appropriate skills to analyse and evaluate such resources. These skills will be fundamental in the society our pupils will be entering.
On-line services significantly alter the information landscape for schools by opening classrooms to a broader array of resources. In the past, teaching and library materials could usually be carefully chosen. All such materials would be chosen to be consistent with national policies, supporting and enriching the curriculum while taking into account the varied teaching needs, learning styles, abilities and developmental levels of the pupils. Internet access, because it may lead to any publicly available site in the world, will open classrooms to electronic information resources which have not been selected by teachers as appropriate for use by pupils.
Electronic information research skills are now fundamental to preparation of citizens and future employees during the coming Information age. The school expects that staff will begin to investigate possibilities and blend use of such information as appropriate within the curriculum and that staff will provide guidance and instruction to pupils in the appropriate use of such resources. Staff will consult the ICT co-ordinator for advice on content, training and appropriate teaching levels consistent with the school’s ICT programme of study.
Independent pupil use of telecommunications and electronic information resources is not advised and will only be permitted upon submission of permission and agreement forms by parents of pupils and by pupils themselves.
Access to on-line resources will enable pupils to explore thousands of libraries, databases, and bulletin boards while exchanging messages with people throughout the world. The school believes that the benefits to pupils from access to information resources and increased opportunities for collaboration exceed the disadvantages. But ultimately, parents and guardians of minors are responsible for setting and conveying the standards that their children should follow when using media and information sources. To that end, the school supports and respects each family’s right to decide whether or not to apply for independent access. The school’s ICT co-ordinator will prepare appropriate procedures for implementing this policy and for reviewing and evaluating its effect on teaching and learning.