“DISTURBING IMAGES” ACCESSED BY PUPILS AT PENARTH PRIMARY SCHOOL

Evenlode Primary School Penarth where pupils accessed inappropriate images" on the internet last week

Evenlode Primary School Penarth where pupils accessed “inappropriate images” on the internet

A supply teacher is “not to be invited back” to Evenlode Primary School, Penarth  after an incident in which four pupils at the school searched for inappropriate images on the internet during an ICT [ Information and Communications Technology] lesson.

The incident happened at the school on March 3rd when a “supply teacher” [ a teacher brought in to cover for normal staff]  “allowed children to use IT equipment and access sites via Google without appropriate supervision” .

The letter sent to Evenlode parents by the school's headteacher Mr S Rees

The letter sent to Evenlode parents by the school’s headteacher Mr S Rees

In a letter sent to all parents – apologising for the incident –  Evenlode’s headteacher Mr Steve Rees says that the supply  teacher [who is not named] had  “unfortunately” failed to follow the work which had been set by the class’s usual staff teacher and which should have been carried out in his absence.

The headteacher has told the school  parents that 4 boys entered the words “Freddie“, “Zombie”, “Chucky” and “Dead dogs” into search engines which – he says –  resulted in what  are described as “several disturbing images” being “displayed and seen by a number of children” .

Mr Rees says the supply teacher was “certainly at fault” – but also says he is “disappointed that several boys chose to input these words (which as adults I am sure we all recognise as being associated with Horror films) “ . The head says that it was only recently  that the police had “spoken to the children about the dangers of accessing inappropriate material on the internet”  .

The head tells parents that “to be fair to the teacher” he instructed the children to shut down the sites as soon as the images appeared.

Evenlode Primary School is one of Penarth's top primary schools

Evenlode Primary School is one of Penarth’s top primary schools

Mr Rees saysthe incident highlights the need for teacher vigilance , the limitations of our filtering system  but also the fact that the children need to take responsibility for their actions” .

However – despite the headteacher’s letter Evenlode parents remain concerned about the issue . One parent said “What the [headteacher’s] letter does not say is that one child in the class was trying to access images of genitals but only failed because he could not spell”.

The school as now taken five actions:-

  • The supply teacher is not to be invited back to Evenlode
  • The search engine “available to children in Year 4 will be replaced”
  • The school will “look again” at its “filtering system”
  • The boys involved in carrying out the “inappropriate searches” have been warned that if they do it again they’ll be banned from using the internet in school.
  • The school’s “police liaison officer” is to be invited back to repeat her talk to children and parents.

The headteacher Mr Steve Rees is away in Iceland this week and is not available for comment.

Academic tomes like this one take it as a given that there should be computer education in primary schools

Academic tomes like this one take it as a given that there should be computer education in primary schools

[PDN Note:  Parents may well wonder why primary schools are even bothering to teach so-called “Information and Communications Technology” when many  primary pupils still haven’t learned basic grammar, spelling or maths.

The Welsh Labour Government’s “ICT Steering Group” is quoted in the Donaldson report (“Successful Futures”) that Wales should become “an Agile-Digital Nation, renowned for producing talented technology innovators, leading software engineers, successful entrepreneurs and other related roles capable of becoming world leaders and contributing to the success of a thriving digital industry in Wales”

The “ICT Steering Group” – which some commentators saw as hardly likely to argue against ICT education – makes the lofty claim that  “that introducing computing into the curriculum would help to create economic and social advantages for all children educated in Wales and enable Wales to become a world leader in computing and digital skills.”]

 

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Penarth Daily News email address dmj@newsnet.uk . Penarth Daily News is an independent free on-line fair and balanced news service published by NewsNet Ltd covering the town of Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, UK. All our news items are based on the information we receive or discover at the time of publication and are published on the basis that they are accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief at that time.
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31 Responses to “DISTURBING IMAGES” ACCESSED BY PUPILS AT PENARTH PRIMARY SCHOOL

  1. Dules says:

    As a parent of a child in the class I am disappointed that this was allowed to happen. I understand the supply teacher was at fault however the majority of the blame should be laid at Steve Rees (the headmasters) door for not having appropriate security filters on the IT sytem in place in Evenlode School. The supply teacher should not be used as a scape goat for total blame.

    • Beth says:

      Fair point about the filter but don’t you think the real issues here are :
      1. How are Year 4 (ages 8 to 9) pupils aware of ‘Freddie’, ‘Zombie’ and Chucky’ in the first place?
      2 Is it right that ICT is playing such a huge role in primary education today, not least when the evidence shows children lack basic numeracy and literacy skills? I’m led to believe it’s being relentlessly ‘championed’ – without any real evidence it enhances learning – by a small number of head teachers in the Vale.
      3. Why are class teachers pulled out of their classes to ‘observe and evaluate’. Why is the education system today obsessed with inspection, observation and evaluation? Has that made things better – judging by results, clearly not.

      • Sarah says:

        Observing and evaluating is part of the monitoring process to ensure that children are receiving the best education possible and making progress in their learning.

    • Sarah says:

      Before criticising this headteacher publicly, maybe you should investigate how the filtering systerm works?

      Schools in Penarth (by and large) have their filtering systems supplied to them via the Vale of Glamorgan tech department. The filtering system is highly effective and in fact, sometimes it works far too well! However, it is not possible to filter search engine’s results unless you work for that company (Google, Bing etc.). Think how many websites there are on the Internet! Plus a user can upload a photo onto a website which these search engines draw down from, and tag it with anything! Therefore, they can upload an obscene photo but tag is with something harmless and the children are subjected to viewing it.

      There is no blame to lay at anyone’s door, this is the way of the world nowadays and children need to be educated to use technology correctly and not abuse it. And that education needs to come from parents as well as teachers! I would be querying how those children knew those names, they clearly had been party to viewing films that were not of an appropriate age-certificate for them; an offense which any safeguarding team is duty bound to report!

      Ensure your children know how to use the Internet properly and safely before you start pointing the finger of blame at others please.

      • Tom says:

        Observing and evaluating? No such nonsense existed when I was in school during the 1970s and, believe it or not, we did pretty well.

      • Colin says:

        What happens if they here ” I dont like mondays,” (shoot the whole day down), Another brick in the wall, (hey teacher, leave those kids alone) and such classics in mummys 4×4 suv are playing, as they queue on the Redlands lights? “Mummy, why dosent the man like Mondays question, brick in the wall, leave the kids alone? Long before the internet …………..

  2. Maisie says:

    What’s the head teacher doing in Iceland in term-time?

  3. Georgie says:

    “One parent said “What the [headteacher’s] letter does not say is that one child in the class was trying to access images of genitals but only failed because he could not spell”.”

    How fortunate then, that the Welsh education system’s mania for “ICT” means children can no longer spell.

  4. Non says:

    You’ve got to laugh – not any of the “rude words” most people remember from their childhood but “genitals”. I suppose the only surprise is they weren’t doing it in French or Japanese while listening to Schubert. Only in Penarth.

  5. Tony says:

    the incident is certainly serious but has it’s funny side-obviously no problem here with parents taking children “out of school” during term time as the head teacher takes his holiday when the school is open-unless he is at the Iceland supermarket! It is also a sad fact that whilst children cannot spell “genitals” most of them are computer literate and can access whatever they choose on lap-tops and mobiles-the school should have an automatic filtering programme to protect children and staff whilst in school.

    • Sarah says:

      Is it possible that he is on a research trip ascertaining exciting new educational theories to ensure that the children in his care make significant and worthwhile progress?

      Just a thought!

  6. Christopher David says:

    I smell a rat- search engines pick up on spelling mistakes. Something not quite right here. Oh- and then the pupils went home.

  7. Eyes and Ears says:

    Lets all blame the school and the teacher in question. Maybe with a class of 30 odd children he was busy with another child. He didn’t tell them to search these things, their curious minds did. There is so much information available to this generation it’s bound to happen. In my day we would look at “rude” words in the dictionary or giggle and laugh if we saw a pair of boobs in a science or geography book. The internet is too big for us to control with filters etc. The children in question would have known that they shouldn’t be searching for these words but thought it’s worth the risk as we have a supply teacher.
    We seem to live in a world where parenting will never be questioned but we moan about what children can and can’t do in school. The School day lasts around 6 hours with breaks, 5 days a week for 39 weeks in the year.
    There is plenty of time when the parents could sit down and help their children with reading, writing, maths etc. Its far easier to blame schools though.
    As for the Head being in Iceland, as none of you know the reason maybe it’s best not to comment. could be personal, educational who knows.

    • Tony says:

      Eyes and ears-I agree with much of what you say but I think the item shows the world has changed dramatically in the last 20 years or so-I still think a Head Teacher’s job is to be “on site” to show leadership in case of unforeseen circumstances-perhaps those days have gone and Heads now are mainly Administrators-similarly children have access to information that we never did-for example young Dr Who fans would have known that Peter Capaldi appeared in a late night comedy show with lots of swearing-nowadays they can watch “The Thick Of It” with all it’s bad language “on demand”-unlikely that parents would want to block this.

      • Eyes and Ears says:

        the role of a teacher does seem to be different to my day. I can remember my teachers being in the classroom all the time. They would teach lessons, take P.E and were even known to sit in the classroom when it was wet play. The Head teacher was even known to teach.
        Now you have a Head teacher, Deputy head, Senior Management teams etc. It seems every other child has “something wrong with them” and need to be diagnosed etc. A lot of time is wasted in schools and teachers being able to teach is almost secondary.
        I’d be interested to know what computer games these kids play on at home? wonder if they are all age appropriate.

    • Sarah says:

      What a refreshing viewpoint, someone with common sense at least!

      Parents needs to be responsible for their children’s behaviour, if your child is searching for inappropriate terms, maybe query your parenting skills.

    • Hywel Rees says:

      Bang on.

      Said teacher couldn’t possibly be able to monitor 30 odd (how big are classes these days?) terminals *as the kids are typing*.
      A bit unfair to terminate him IMHO. Seems more like the school are attempting to avoid accusations of a lazy filtering system (read: none), by ‘being seen to do something pro-active’, and giving poor teacher the boot.

  8. Councillor Ian Courtney says:

    Oh dear this news item does appear to bring out the best and worst of the internet. There was I blithely assuming it was conventional wisdom that a well rounded education designed to prepare young women and men to participate in the world would naturally include literacy and numeracy and also newer skills associated with the digital economy and along come some commentators who appear to take the view that ‘ICT’ is a waste of time. It is predictably all the fault of the Welsh Government.

    I don’t really know where to start but a few simple facts might help; according to industry estimates there are currently nearly 3,000 vacancies in Wales alone for people with software coding skills; the OECD believes the demand for software engineers will continue to grow for the next decade as software penetrates more and more aspects of human activity across the globe; software engineers receive above average salaries; Welsh universities educate a combined total of 150 under-graduates every year; the old corporate order is receding, measured by market capitalisation the list of the top 15 includes Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook, all of which are driven by software and two of which are less than two decades old. The irony is the very platform we are using to express our views and the skills required to make it function are internet based and software driven.

    To some people on this site it may seem to be a matter of shame that I work with software engineers attempting to create wealth for the nation. To make matters worse I also happen to be a councillor, who is of the same persuasion as the mob in control of the Welsh Government. The simple fact remains that at no point has anybody associated with educational public policy in Wales suggested it is a case of either educating our kids to be able to read, write and do maths or alternatively be versed in computing and software. Both are essential if Wales and Penarth for that matter, are to thrive in the 21st century.

    • Jonny says:

      There’s a shortage of construction workers too but that doesn’t mean primary school children should be learning brick-laying at the expense of numeracy and literacy.

    • Hywel Rees says:

      As a software engineer myself, I find most people equate ICT to “mucking about on Excel & Word”, rather than development, which is probably where some of the bad sentiment comes from.

    • Big Davey says:

      What a load of pompous crap.

      Just look at how many computing courses are run in Welsh Universities, the total output per annum comes to way more than 150 graduates.

      Perhaps Councillor Courtney is trying to build a case for further government funding for his charity, this is just a fund raising scare mongering.

      There are plenty of software literate graduates produced every year in Wales, it is just a pity we cannot pay them enough and we lose many of them to better paying jobs in the UK and beyond.

  9. Tony says:

    As a parent of a pupil in this class what the children were actually doing was an extremely basic task for a year 4 pupil of typing their name into word. Unfortunately the pupils appear to have had more ability than the teacher and this is the problem with technology in schools, it only really works if the teacher themselves is a step ahead of the pupils and this is often not the case.

  10. Colin says:

    In Geography, don’t type the word Raqqa in. The city is …

  11. Concerned Mum says:

    Of course children will be children – thank goodness, and this is the modern day equivalent of looking at the underwear section of the Kay’s catalogue back in the 70’s. Oh don’t tell me you didn’t!
    What’s wrong here is that the school has failed to understand the risk. Yes we all have a responsibility to educate our children, but we cannot be held accountable for the parenting choices of the other 29 children in the class. When you send your child to school they then have a responsibility to protect them in loco parentis.
    This is basic child protection issue. There will be some children in the class for whom this incident has had a profound and lasting effect.
    Each day we hear about the mental health issues facing out children, in no small part due to the internet and social media.
    Of course we need to embrace the opportunities, but in a managed way.
    This is not the first time this situation has happened at Evenlode. Clearly there are shortcomings in the system rather than this being the fault of an individual.
    As a parent at Evenlode regularly on the receiving end of moaning letters about funding and constant tin rattling, I’m sure I’m not the only one who isn’t convinced about the value of so called partnership / learning visits to Brazil, Italy and now Iceland that staff at our school enjoy. Although the Head will profess that the funding is separate to his budget, the supply cover will be the schools responsibility. Ultimately perhaps the central education budget in Wales would be better spent delivering a more appropriate ‘filtering’ system for use in schools. I am sure there is some best practice to be found close to home.

    • Justine says:

      I think the most notable factor was telling my daughter that the headteacher of her school was in Iceland, the worrying response was that she had no idea and that she hadn’t noticed…..I played some bjork but she still wasn’t impressed!

  12. Colin says:

    I thought only mums go to Iceland ! Big Time Sensuality beckons…….

  13. Jason says:

    It’s good to see that there are some reasonable thinking people left in Penarth, but it seems that a significant number of contributers to this thread are ignorant, misinformed and holier than thou. It would seem that some of the contributors feel they can speak with knowledge and expertise about the Welsh education system in 2016 simply because they themselves once went to school. Schools are very different places from the institutions parents attended. One cannot compare the use of ICT, the understanding of learning styles, and the culture and ethos of today’s schools with the schools of ten years ago even.
    The abuse of the headteacher is clearly vindictive, puerile and personal. Any reasonable person reading his letter can see he and the school in general has acted entirely appropriately. He has not sought to brush the incident under the carpet but has tackled the issue head-on and openly.
    The misuse of IT is an issue that faces all sections of society. IT has tremendous benefits but it is not without its risks and that has been the challenge that has faced all new technologies through the ages, whether it has been the inappropriate use of a search engine today or reading inappropriate print material from an older sibling in years gone by.
    Today’s schools aren’t the oppressive and coercive establishments do the seventies and eighties. Today’s school teachers and support staff work in partnership with learners and parents, in a spirit of trust and respect. Perhaps of some the nasty contributors to this blog could learn from that.

  14. Steve Rees says:

    Dear ‘Contributor, ‘
    I very rarely access ‘Blog sites,’ but have been prompted to do so on this occasion by a number of ‘supportive parents.’
    Call me ‘old fashioned , ‘ but I have always believed that if a parent has a complaint or a concern about any aspect of the school or my management, then direct and immediate contact either by phone, letter or a ‘ face to face ‘ meeting is always preferable. Infact simple good manners and the School’s Complaints policy should dictate that.
    I am therefore available to meet with any ‘complainant ‘ next week.
    Monday and Tuesday are busy days and I teach all day on a Wednesday, but Thursday and Friday I am available. Simply contact the school to make an appointment . I am usually in school until 6:30 Monday to Friday and frequently in on weekends in a ‘caretaker capacity’ so would also be happy to meet then if preferred.
    I am still in Iceland , where I have been neither shopping nor ‘on holiday.’ I have been with a group of teachers from ‘Forward Thinking’ English and Welsh Medium schools in Cardiff seeking to learn how to develop Outdoor Learning, which will hopefully impact on Teaching , Learning , Wellbeing and the development of the school grounds at Evenlode ( As many of you know, I have been driving Y6 pupils on Friday afternoons during the Autumn term to the White Water Centre in the Bay , where we have all been learning how to canoe and I hope to continue this next term, since there are huge benefits to children )
    The new Curriculum is nearly upon us and I am hoping that Evenlode will be ready for the new challenges it brings. The cost of the visit,including ‘Supply Costs’ has been completely covered by European funding and I have funded myself.
    I hope this helps, but Dules, Beth, Tony , Maisie, Colin, George, Tony,Hywel, ‘ Eyes and Ears’ and ‘ Concerned Mum’ you are more than welcome to make yourselves known and meet with me to discuss in person any further concerns you may harbour
    I will of course be at the forthcoming meeting to discuss esafety, so please feel free to speak directly to me there.

    • Sarah says:

      I hope that they have the decency to meet with you Steve; it’s far too easy for people to hide behind a computer screen and not stand their ground in real life.

  15. Christopher David says:

    Jolly good riposte- and yes lets have real names eh. To many anonymous snipers- as always. Why are they afraid? What I do know is my son swapped from Fairfield to Evenlode and came on leaps and bounds- after catch up because Evenlode was streets ahead. They also brought him on sports-wise, good all round education. Now he has a degree in engineering and that would have been much more difficult without an excellent foundation. Thank you Evenlode.

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