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back to article Parents to get classroom spynet in 2010

Every parent of a secondary school pupil will have online access to real-time data on their child's behaviour by 2010 under new targets set today by schools minister Jim Knight. The government wants all schools to provide secure access to information on "behavioural events" as they happen, in the belief that parents feel shut …

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useless feature alert

Millions spent again so parents can subscribe to brat1.rss and brat2.rss

While giving teachers another broken system to waste time with.

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Anonymous Coward

Data Security?????

The educational sector does not, currently, have to comply with HMG security policy. How certain can we be that the data on these systems is appropriately protected with good access controls, authentication, auditing etc? Even those government departments that are, in theory, required to comply with HMG standards can't quite get it right!

Most schools have very limited IT infrastructure and often connect the one and only server they have, with all the data on it, to the Internet so that they can send / receive email, have a web presence, allow remote access for teachers. What's to prevent anyone else from trying to gain access to this same data?

Let's try to get the security in place before we have another data disaster! or further increase the risk to our children from Internet predators.

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Silver badge

Waste of teachers' time?

On a schoolday, teachers already have no time on their hands. Now the government wants them up update a blog on their kid's behaviour in class? Not only is that going to be a huge waste of a teacher's time (and I'd love to see PE teachers try and do it, seen as that's the class where the worst behaviour generally is), but it's going to mean Bad Things for the kids too.

Because it's such a huge waste of the teacher's time, they'll only ever use it to threaten the children, and the only stuff that will ever go on there will be bad, never good. Which will be great for the kids - every time you so much as fart in class you get an earful when you get home. Got a teacher that doesn't like you? Enjoy! Add that to the twenty thousand exams you're expected to sit during high school, and you'll have some really happy kids. I thought we were supposed to be encouraging them to stay?

I'm sure I'll get called a bleeding heart for caring about the stress levels of kids, but I was massively pressured at school, college and Uni, as were friends of mine, and its had a detrimental effect. The last thing kids need is this useless shit-stirring nonsense.

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Anonymous Coward

The nation formerly known as Great Britain

British participation in internation high energy physics is faltering for want of £80M while dreamland policies like "computers will help the poor" are funded to the tune of £30M. Words fail me.

Oh, and the idea that somebody, somewhere thinks that "online access to real-time data on their child's behaviour" is a good idea makes me worry for the future far more than global warming. Numbknuts, the lot of them.

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Black Helicopters

Another pilot...

...another surveillance measure to be rolled out across UK. Presumable so police and/or politicians can watch us at work.

Hmmm, two posts in one day and both unusually paranoid. Must be something in the air.

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Paris Hilton

This is news?

We've been working towards this target for almost two years. All secondary schools needed to have a VLE by 2008 and an MLE by 2010.

Most of the London Schools went with Fronter for the 2008 target, as LGfL got us a deal.

The MLE is down to our respective MIS providers. Capita have been developing their portal for quite some time, but as this is Capita, it's both costly, and there are always reliability issues.

Serco on the other hand, have provided this functionality for years (http://www.sercolearningsolutions.com/schools/products/mis.htm), but scrapping one MIS system in favour of another is costly and time consuming (Implementation and training).

As If us School techies didn't have enough to do..................

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Correction. ENGLISH parents to get spynet. Not available in scotland.

Hello, remember us up north? Hello?

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Joined up government

Back when he was chancellor Gordo killed off the HCI because, he claimed, there was no longer any need for it as everyone now had access to cheap computers. Now all of sudden there are more than a million children who might need to have one bought for them out of my tax money.

Bloody idiots in New Labour.

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Worrying

I inevitably have problems with this.

a) I don't want my children to think that I know and see every minute of their lives. They can only learn responsibility for their actions and how to make decisions if they are judged by results and not micromamaged all the way down. But this can be mitigated by me promissing to the kids I won't use the system.

b) more worrying is the data security and protection. It is easy to envisage scenario where employers will use the system to go through the school records of job applicants and vet them by how many days they spent in detention and how good their attendance was...

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A-level in hacking, anyone?

So how secure will this system be? Will the class geek be changing everyone's grades to A if they pay him money and E if he doesn't like them?

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buh

I think the people who should see their children misbehaving are exactly the same ones who do not care, or think it is funny.

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Happy

@Kenny

Kenny

If you pansies up in Scotland didn't take TWO whole bank holidays to recover from New Year's Eve, maybe there'd be more money washing around your economy to pay for it.

Seriously, how much stuff does Scotland get that the English don't get? A parliament that is only open to your countrymen, for instance? Pot, kettle, etc...

Andrew

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Teachers Workload

I'm married to a primary school teacher, perhaps this should be mandatory for all education ministers? Then they may have an understanding of the workload that teachers are under already. The length of time it takes to write 30 reports containing about 10 subjects each is horrific. To do it termly (along with all the other paper work) is crazy, particularly as parents would no doubt complain if the comments don't change between terms.

Schools at least already provide already provide a (near) real time system for reporting behaviour of the pupils who need it. Amazingly the system is low cost and very accessible for parents. It involves sheets of paper onto which the teacher writes comment and is sent home with the child. If parents want even better feedback then they can (shockingly) talk to their childs teacher! Our secondary school also had a advanced system called a homework diary, into this I had to write the details of my homework and it had to be signed by my parents. If I didn't fill it in properly then my parents would question me. Even more advanced it too had a space for teachers to write in comments on behaviour and as a signature was required my parents saw it.

Of course none of this would work with a facebook or rss plugin, nor would it get the governments mates lots of money on expensive contracts.

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Alert

Hmm - not 2.0 enough

Given that the government is insisting on a PC in every home could they not just insist that as part of that deal all the kids must open an arsebook account and invite their teachers to be their bestest friend and allow them to post videos on their pages for viewing by the whole world - add barcodes to their foreheads and when the camera is pointed at them it will automatically send the feed to the right account

Or maybe the teachers could have mobile devices with speech recognition so that child specific comments got tweetied to the relevant twatter immediately - I am sure that Joyce Grenfell would be all for it.

Well - its as good as most of the schemes the Govt comes up with.

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Big Kid

Why would parent even want to know what their kid is doing all the time? I wouldn't care... millions of kids had no "realtime data" tracking by overly concerned parents and they did pretty well. Let kids be kids FFS and not some kind of extension of your own failures and a target for you own goals.

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Black Helicopters

Death of childhood part 4536

God I'd hate to be a kid these days. I suppose the next step is the personal webcam over every desk. And we wonder why kids are doing drugs aged 8. Wouldn't you?

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Unhappy

*comic book guy voice* oh please take away (more of) my privacy, i do not want it!

Are there really people so insecure they want the government to wrap them up in a blanket so much so they are willing to sacrifice their privacy (and the privacy of everyone else in the country) in order to feel "safe"?

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@Greg

Absolute rubbish!

Secondary school teachers have more than enough free time, at maximum they have 25 hours interaction time per week, leaving a MINIMUM of 10 hours (After compulsory tea breaks) for marking, lesson plans, and anything else required of them, not to mention several "Inset" days set aside for training and administration work.

From my own experience working in a school, the teachers would rather spend their 10 hours sitting in the staff room having a chat or browsing the internet than to actually do what is required of them.

What other employment requires absolutely no knowledge of what you are doing, offers13 weeks paid holiday and a £5k starting bonus?

Answer - None (well maybe working for the government).

If teachers were any good at their subject then they would be out in the real world, doing it! Instead they don't know what they are trying to teach, work cushy hours, have 3x as much holiday as everyone else and still want to bitch and moan because telling a group of ASBO-wannabes for 25 hours a week is too much work!

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@Vladimir Plouzhnikov

I couldn't agree more. I want my children to learn to stand on their own two feet before they are adults and head of into the big bad world (although I'm sure the People's Republic of NewLab will have it all controlled for them by then).

So given that -

a) I don't want it or need it

b) It is a security/data risk

how do I opt out? I don't want anyone who can guess my mothers maiden name and who know's when my birthday is to be tiptoeing through my children's school records. Not to mention the fun had by the kids hacking each others accounts

"Ha ha, Johnnie has to visit the nurse every thursday to have his piles scraped'

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Alert

comment 1

"This isn't a substitute for personal contact," Knight said of the raft of technology projects. "It will augment and supplement it." ... Oh Yeh? - I used to work in a school - this will either be unworkable OR it will replace entirely all teacher-pupil contact time (especially PE)

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Happy

Up North?

Hello Kenny, Yes - I remember Scotland, home of the blueskins, birthplace of the Prime Minister, origins of the Bank of England, nationality of the man who perfected road surfaces, the man who developed the telephone etc etc etc source of all original thought, music, wisdom and intelligence in the entire universe.

Now Shhhhhhh - or we WILL get this stoopid child monitoring carp in our schools too.

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Anonymous Coward

"Education, education, education"

The Schoolboy by Wm Blake (1757 - 1827)

I love to rise in a summer morn, / When the birds sing on every tree; / The distant huntsman winds his horn, / And the skylark sings with me: / O what sweet company!

But to go to school in a summer morn, - / O it drives all joy away! / Under a cruel eye outworn, / The little ones spend the day / In sighing and dismay.

Ah then at times I drooping sit, / And spend many an anxious hour; / Nor in my book can I take delight, / Nor sit in learning's bower, / Worn through with the dreary shower.

How can the bird that is born for joy / Sit in a cage and sing? / How can a child, when fears annoy, / But droop his tender wing, / And forget his youthful spring!

O father and mother if buds are nipped, / And blossoms blown away; / And if the tender plants are stripped / Of their joy in the springing day, / By sorrow and care's dismay, -

How shall the summer arise in joy, / Or the summer fruits appear? / Or how shall we gather what griefs destroy, / Or bless the mellowing year, / When the blasts of winter appear?

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Stop

Yet another Government IT project

And we all know how those turn out... *sigh*

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Stop

@ AC @ Greg....

"What other employment requires absolutely no knowledge of what you are doing, offers13 weeks paid holiday and a £5k starting bonus?

Answer - None (well maybe working for the government)."

I think you will find that is entirely wrong, as I work for the government and I know exactly what I am doing, and I don't get 13 weeks paid holiday. And as for a £5k starting bonus? Seriously, what job are you talking about? I'll send my CV into them...

"If teachers were any good at their subject then they would be out in the real world, doing it!"

Really? So then who would be teaching the kids at school how to do any subject? Actual members of a profession? Remember, we no longer live in a society where a child would generally learn a skill or trade from either a parent or other peer. We rely instead on our schooling system to provide those skills necessary for a young adult to survive in the "real world".

I really hope your not falling back onto that old axiom, "Those who cannot do, Teach". Which, in my mind, makes no sense, because if you can't do the thing at hand, how can you teach it?

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Anonymous Coward

what's

"What's that flushing sounds Mr Minister?"

"O just me flushing another bilion pounds down the toilet to the EDS trolls in the sewer."

"Ho ho ho Mr Minister, you are wise!"

"Well of course, we wouldn't want to do anything that could be innovative now would we! ho ho ho Might upset our friends."

"O yes Minister, ah that man selling full body scanners is here to take you for a champaigne dinner! "

"HO HO HO this is the life for me. "

The Superhero does not approve of this ever increasing faggotry!

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@AC@Greg

Good but no cigar - you need to work on your digression and lose the rationality - we shouldn't be able to actually work out a logic to the flame on first read.

We need to be abe to visualise the spittle flying from the mouth - mix up the words and lose the spelling - punctuation should either be non existent or all over the place.

Your eye swivelling was far too subtle - more Taylor Pruitt Vince when we need to see Christopher Lloyd - let us see those eyes right out on stalks.

Remember - grammar, logic, punctuation and spelling are your enemy.

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Black Helicopters

And the REAL reason for this initiative

...is social engineering on the part of UK gov to get children used to the idea of being under constant surveillance and to accept this as the norm. In just 20 years' time, there will be a whole generation of adults who simply take massive government intrusion into their lives as a matter of course. Remember kids: Oldthinkers unbellyfeel Ingsoc!

P.S. Hey El Reg, we need a George Orwell/1984 icon!

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Strange comments

Just for the anonymous coward, posting "Absolute rubbish!

Secondary school teachers have more than enough free time, at maximum they have 25 hours interaction time per week, leaving a MINIMUM of 10 hours (After compulsory tea breaks) for marking, lesson plans, and anything else required of them, not to mention several "Inset" days set aside for training and administration work.

From my own experience working in a school, the teachers would rather spend their 10 hours sitting in the staff room having a chat or browsing the internet than to actually do what is required of them.

What other employment requires absolutely no knowledge of what you are doing, offers13 weeks paid holiday and a £5k starting bonus?"

Dunno what planet you've been working on, but I've just finished my marking and preparation for tonight and it is now 2am. Your communts are utter tosh. These 25 hours you mention refers to the teaching time. Am equal amount of time is often spent marking and preparing work. We haven't even got onto effective report writing, dealing with behaviour management, long term planning, curriculum development, dealing with constantly changing exam syllabi and much more. I certainly won't claim that teachers get is harder than many other professionals but your comments about timing are wrong and entirely mistaken. There is also no £5k bonus unfortunately, nor any of the other benefits you suggest. Quite honestly the holidays are extremely good but you have to be a teacher to appreciate the pressures that you are put under. Then you won't moan about the holidays at all.

My concern about this latest government initiaitive is how well it is going to be funded and supported. The current systems used as examples cost schools thousands of pounds. If some whole scale, expensive system is imposed on schools without adequate training, planning and provision it simply won't work as well as it could.

Ideal if it streamlines the reporting processes, allows useful contact between parents and teachers and allows parents to track their own child's progress. However, I really have to be convinced about the practical reality.

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@AC 'Absolute Rubbish'

You clearly don't know any Secondary school teachers.

If you did you'd realise that they work most evenings and every weekend during term time to keep *on top* of their workload. Plus, they also work during their 'holidays' to keep up to date with government's latest interference (sorry, policy) and prepare lesson plans, which they don't have time to do in term time.

I'm not a teacher (you couldn't pay me enough!), but I have several friends who are and they absolutely deserve their pay and holidays as any sane human being would not put up with the kids, parents, back-stabbing 'colleagues', government interference that teachers endure routinely.

Teachers need more resources and support from government, not the latest IT disaster... £30m FFS!!!

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It's not for the parents

The gov(ment | nor) would never get signoff to spy on all our children.

instead he offers parents to spy on their children and then uses the system on the sly to spy on our children.

It's an experimental way of getting the project approved in the pre new-dawn where leaks still occur and it's impossible for the gov(ment | nor) to secretly act in our best benefit against our best wishes.

Sam

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Unhappy

@Colin Millar

"Given that the government is insisting on a PC in every home could they not just insist that as part of that deal all the kids must open an arsebook account and invite their teachers to be their bestest friend and allow them to post videos on their pages for viewing by the whole world - add barcodes to their foreheads and when the camera is pointed at them it will automatically send the feed to the right account"

I give you e-ilp.

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Stop

Waste of everyone's time

Why bother with all this nonsense when we've already learned the best way to control children is to feed them narcotics?

Discipline and moral standards are barbaric throwbacks to acting normally. Can't have a kid saying he's "bored" in class and acting up, definitely must be something wrong with him if he doesn't conform to the Hollywood "all kids are angels" norm.

But if we can't stuff them full of drugs, and to me that seems the perfect solution, why waste time on interweb spying when we could simply take direct control of our children via brain implants?

Look we all know that there's no such thing as a bad kid. We know that no action whatsoever should result in punishment. So to preserve the mythical world where these rules apply, simply have the adults direct the kids behaviour via joysticks.

Gives parents something to do during the 2 hours a day they aren't devoting to WoW.

My solution to my kids doing things they probably shouldn't is to stick them in front of a few consoles. No one can rob a store or smoke drugs if their time is sensibly filled playing video games. Sometimes one of them might even teach them something moral. Sort of. Well mostly not, but at least we're giving it a crack.

In the mean time I'll save up for some of those designer mind-altering drugs that fix children, and hope they haven't developed too many chonic back injuries while we wait.

Next year we'll find that physical activity is a barbaric form of torture and no kid should be forced to participate in something that might require a bandaid. The US is already there, so Britain won't be too far behind.

And we're already seeing the successes these sorts of approaches bring. Now we have an entire generation of "give them everything they want, regardless of consequences" brats in the corporate world, look at the crackerjack job they're doing of reigning in excesses and fostering corporate responsibility.

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This is still a democracy (for now)

How many of the people complaining here, voted these idiots in again, and again? You get all you deserve!

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Re: This is still a democracy

No, because regardless of who you vote for the government will still erode freedom, invade your privacy, ID cards, NDNAD etc etc. Didn't you lot vote NuLab to get rid of Blair and his mob of Neocons? And what's the difference between then and now? That's right, none whatsoever.

That's why I just don't even bother voting. We're all going down the totalitarian road regardless of who we vote for. I don't have kids either, since I couldn't live with myself having forced them to live in what's coming.

And I STILL want to know where my 1984 icon is!

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@AC

Just wanted to reiterate some of the comments against AC already. Obviously AC you do not know any actual teachers.

Personal view: I, like many people in my position, would probably be well suited to go into teaching, you know, lots of software engineering experience, ideal for teaching computing to kids (beyond how to use MS Office). Plus the fact that there are a declining number of male teachers at present. Reasonably good pay and pension, etc. *No* chance, I wouldn't be a teacher for £500K per annum+, teachers have to work above and beyond the average 9-5 most people are blessed with. Plus they have to put up with an ungrateful bunch of brats more interested in texting their mates, abrasive parents who firmly believe that their little johnny is an angel, etc. I know a few teachers who do really enjoy what they do (you have to), but it certainly takes its pound of flesh.

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Unhappy

Strangely enough, I always believed the teacher's job was to

teach!

Does it not strike anyone else as just a trifle odd that our schools are now supposed to act as pseudo jailers for semi feral children that the parents and the police have failed to control! Whilst presumably, the Wizard of Oz hides behind the green curtain and sends his reports back to some curious overlord somewhere in the Westminster swamp.

That the Government wishes to offer more form filling and general time wasting in place of an education for children, which of course would ensure that they are fit and ready to fill the jobs which are already earmarked by the Government for foreigners, on the grounds that we have no persons available or able to fill these posts - none of this should come as any surprise. Small wonder it is that legions of the able are now escaping Britain for other countries, leaving behind the binge drinkers, and those unfortunates who cannot escape, as the blob like entity of the burgeoning public sector swallows them whole with scarcely a hiccup.

Yes, Paranoid Cynic are my middle names.

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