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Children: Internet

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL4545, tabled on 10 January 2017

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to implement the recommendations of the Children's Commissioner, made on 4 January, that the rights of children online are upheld, including through the creation of a digital ombudsman and the inclusion of digital citizenship in the national curriculum.

Answered on

24 January 2017

The Department welcomes the work of the Children’s Commissioner on this important area. We will carefully consider this report as part of our ongoing work to make the internet a safer place for children.

The Department for Education is part of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), a group of more than 200 organisations established in 2010 drawn from across government, industry, law enforcement, academia, parenting and charity sectors which work in partnership to keep children safe online. The group is chaired by three Government ministers: the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, the Minister for Vulnerability, Safeguarding and Countering Extremism and the Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families.

UKCCIS has produced advice for schools and colleges on responding to incidents of sexting and guidance for school governors to help them support their school leaders to keep children safe online. Other UKCCIS achievements include the roll-out of free, family-friendly ISP level filters and the deployment of friendly Wi-Fi filtering in public spaces.

All schools are required to teach a balanced and broadly based curriculum that promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils, and prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. Maintained schools have to follow the new National Curriculum, which, from September 2014 has focused on essential knowledge, allowing teachers and schools to use their professional judgement to ensure the school curriculum meets the needs of their pupils. The computing curriculum covers e-safety at all four Key Stages, and was developed with input from e-safety experts including Childnet, NSPCC and the UK Safer Internet Centre. There is progression in the content across the four Key Stages to reflect the different and escalating risks that young people face as they get older.

However, this is only part of the wider school curriculum. Schools have more freedom to teach subjects or topics, such as digital citizenship, beyond the prescribed curriculum to ensure that children receive a rounded education. Teachers also have access to a wide range of high quality resources produced by experts including advice published by the PSHE Association, the Sex Education Forum, and Brook. These address changes in technology and legislation since 2000, in particular equipping teachers to help protect children and young people from inappropriate online content, and from online bullying, harassment and exploitation.