government is working with schools and teachers to ensure pupils gained all the benefits of the Internet without facing pornography and other unsuitable material.
Mr Blunkett said: 'I take the issue of pornography in schools - including material on the Internet - very seriously. My Department has already taken action on undesirable material and will continue to do so. For example, it was a pre-requisite for funding under the National Grid for Learning that schools and LEAs should have clear policies for protecting pupils from on-line access to pornography. ICT training for teachers will also include an element aimed at ensuring teachers are able to identify undesirable material.'
He said guidance to teachers from the British Education and Communications Technology Agency (BECTA) was available on the National Grid for Learning website. In addition, pilot projects run by the Department have shown that many safeguards are already employed by schools. These include:
Providing learners with limited access to information previewed by staff members;
Using filtering software to prevent pupils accessing material with specific characteristics;
Drawing up a 'user contract' for pupils ensuring they are aware of the ground rules for access and know what access is and is not permissible.
In addition, Internet Watch, run in co-operation with the Government and the police, is a self-regulatory framework based on existing law and existing penalties. At present this appears to be working well.
Mr Blunkett said:
'To date, the problem of pupils accessing pornography through ICT equipment at schools has been less of a problem than expected. But there are no grounds for complacency and my Department will continue to ensure that the provision of information and advice to teachers who have to deal with this matter remains a priority.'