Primary school pupils should NOT have smartphones or unlimited internet access, head of Ofsted warns

Primary school pupils should NOT have smartphones or unlimited internet access, head of Ofsted tells parents

  • Ofsted’s boss was ‘not comfortable’ with children having internet access
  • Children owning smartphones was also a concern raised by Amanda Spielman
  • Her thoughts come at a time when the Online Safety Bill is being hotly debated
  • Yet the ASCL have called for huge changes to the Ofsted inspection system

Ofsted’s boss suggested that children should not have unrestricted internet access or smartphones at a young age. 

The watchdog’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, expressed her surprisal on hearing that primary and early secondary school children sometimes own mobile phones.

In a conversation with BBC Radio 5 Live about accessing explicit content online, she said: ‘I’m not comfortable with younger children having unlimited internet access.

Chief inspector of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, expressed her surprisal on hearing about primary and early secondary school children having mobile phones

Chief inspector of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, expressed her surprisal on hearing about primary and early secondary school children having mobile phones

‘I’m very surprised when primary-aged children have smartphones, for example, and even in early secondary school. It’s really hard to manage that.’ 

Ms Spielman also suggested that it was the role of parents and schools to ‘make sure that children can steer past all of these undesirable influences’. 

The interview comes at a time when the Online Safety Bill is being hotly debated, with 50 MPs currently pushing for tougher rules in the children’s safety legislation. 

The law could see social media sites having greater protections for users in the face of harmful content.  

In spite of Ms Spielman’s views, a number of headteachers have come forward today calling for an end to Ofsted’s graded judgements.

Ofsted's boss suggested that children should not have uncontrolled internet access or smartphones at a young age

Ofsted’s boss suggested that children should not have uncontrolled internet access or smartphones at a young age

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) have published a paper proposing long and short-term changes to the inspection system.

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: ‘Graded judgements are a woefully blunt tool with which to measure performance, failing to account for the different circumstances under which schools operate. 

‘Negative judgements come with huge stigma attached and create a vicious circle that makes improvement more difficult. We know from speaking to members that the punitive inspection system is contributing to the recruitment and retention crisis in education by adding to the pressure school leaders are under, and by making it more difficult to recruit high-quality staff in the schools which most need them.’ 

Tom Middlehurst, Curriculum, Assessment and Inspection Specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, added: ‘We appreciate the need for an independent inspectorate, and acknowledge the current Education Inspection Framework has some positive aspects. 

‘But many school and college leaders feel the framework is flawed and Ofsted risks losing the trust of the profession. We think that, if implemented, the changes put forward in this paper could help win back that trust and produce an inspection system that is just, reliable and in the best interests of children and young people.’

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