Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Facebook advice for parents and young people

Several schools have requested a simple guide-sheet that can be given to parents to enable them to have an informed conversation with their children about their Facebook settings. The first version of that guidance is available here.

Please feel free to distribute to parents if you feel it is relevant in your school. Remembering that it is not meant to be an exhaustive "how to..." but it is meant to ensure the parents have an informed discussion with their children, knowing the sorts of settings that can be changed.

If you are a Redbridge school and would like the original document to customise to suit your own school, or you would like to offer some comments on how this guidance should be adjusted, please get in touch.

Alex Rees

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

What does DfE think about ICT in schools?

The Department for Education have just released a paper entitled:
Department for Education addresses £1bn of unrealistic inherited spending commitments

In it they state:
"We have previously announced small cuts of £8m to specialist schools capital, of £15m to the extended schools programme, and of £50m to Harnessing Technology grants, as contribution to the Chancellor’s £6.2bn fiscal consolidation, and in order to make progress this year on the government’s commitment to free schools."

The go on to announce that they will further reduce the Harnessing technology grant as follows:
"Harnessing Technology: £50m. a further saving is being achieved. The programme will now be worth £100m to all local authorities. They have received the first quarterly payment and will get the second, giving them time to plan to reconfigure their broadband and IT infrastructure programmes."

The DfE attempts to pre-empt some key questions:
"Q Does this mean that you do not see IT as a contributor to the improvement of educational standards – you have just also disbanded Becta?
A Appropriate IT is a strong supported of good teaching and learning. It is however now well embedded in schools, and we do not think that further hypothecated capital investment is needed."
Q Does this mean that schools will have to abandon broadband contracts that are essential to a data rich IT environment?

A These contracts are a call on revenue, not capital, funding."

Whatever your opinion might be of the DfE's position LBR will necessarily invest "time to plan to reconfigure their broadband and IT infrastructure". If you wish to share your opinion - you are welcome to comment on this blog. You may well wish to read today's news within the context of the LGFL executive position previously published on this blog.

Alex Rees

Help - there are videos of our students on Youtube!

A number of schools have discovered parents busily uploading their memories of children's sports days and school performances up onto the video sharing site: Such videos containing other students can be cause for concern, both to the school and to other parents.

What can be done now that it has happened?

Firstly the school unfortunately has little right of recourse with youtube if you want to remove footage of school events that includes your students, unless the footage for some other reason breaks youtube's Community Guidelines.

However, the students are data subjects, and under the data protection act youtube will remove footage of identifiable children upon their parent's request. On the youtube site there is a Privacy Complaint Report that parents of other children in the footage can use to get videos removed.

How can I prevent the situation from occuring in my school?

Your school policy could outline that footage of school events can be used for personal memories, but must not published onto any public area of the internet, including social networking sites. A reminder of this policy can be put at the bottom of programmes for events. (If you are particularly concerned you could ban parents from using cameras completely but this might be detrimental to parents enjoying and celebrating their child's achievements.)

As with many eSafety concerns the easiest way to remove any content from the internet is always to ask the person who uploaded it to delete it. They will often comply when they realise that it breaches your own safeguarding rules. Most schools ask permission from parents on an annual basis before using their children's images on publicity, prospectuses or any other public material. Given that you have taken care with their child's privacy, most parents will agree to show similar care.

Alex Rees

Friday, 2 July 2010

LGfL and Harnessing Technology Grant

The following information has been provided directly by the LGFL trust:

On 18th June, the DfE website published an announcement that £50m would be cut from Harnessing Technology Grant (HTG) in the current year. There could be some concern or speculation that this element of the £200m grant would threaten the continuation of services supplied by LGfL to all London maintained schools. The purpose of this note is to clarify the position and set aside any concerns.

Using funds provided by agreement, by all London LAs, LGfL provides centrally a range of services to all London maintained schools, including the LGfL core network (in effect the ‘power station’ which feeds all schools’ broadband connections) and many other services and resources set out in the LGfL Services Guide (online at Also at this URL is a report on the savings achieved for schools by London LAs through the LGfL regional collaboration – over £100m per year.

LAs agree and commit in advance to contribute the necessary funds to supply and maintain these services, under the contracts in place between LGfL Trust and each LA. Each LA will be working to establish how to manage funds locally in order to accommodate the reduction in HTG and to ensure the continuation of LGfL services for schools, meeting the agreed and contractual LGfL contributions, which in fact the great majority have already settled.

I hope this note is helpful in allaying any concerns regarding any impact on LGfL services from the recent DfE announcement.

LGfL has been active in writing and lobbying in a number of ways to draw the attention of Government to what can only be regarded as an ill-informed decision, and is currently arranging for a parliamentary question to tabled in respect to the Government’s future intentions in respect to HTG, and asking the Minister to make a statement.

LGfL has been consulting schools, and LAs have been working together for some time, looking at different approaches to maintain the best possible services, at the best possible prices, whether or not there is, in future a continuation of HTG. Further detail on this will be addressed in the near future in consultation with LAs.

A new publication for schools helping them to make the most of LGfL will be distributed with each copy of the TES in the London region on 9th July – watch out for yours!

Brian Durrant
Chief Executive
London Grid for Learning Trust