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School spies: Parents to view their child's lessons via webcam

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  • School spies: Parents to view their child's lessons via webcam

    25th August 2007

    Gordon Brown is to abolish the annual school report and allow parents to spy on lessons through the internet.

    Currently, families are entitled to receive only very basic information about their children's academic performance.

    But from next year, secondary schools will be told to post timetables, test results, attendance records and detailed comments on each individual child via new computer networks accessible to parents.

    It means parents will no longer have to wait until the end of the school year to see how their children are coping.

    A senior Whitehall source said: "At the moment, particularly with older children, parents have limited information about what they get up to.

    "All too often they will ask their teenage kids about their school day and be greeted with a grunt or a shrug of the shoulder.

    Would this scheme help or hinder your child's education? Join the debate in readers' comments below.

    "In future, parents will be able to ask them more specific questions about, for example, their double maths lesson or their history test because they will able to monitor their timetable on the computer."

    However, there will be questions about the security of the new system, with concerns likely to be raised that the databases could be targeted by paedophiles.

    Teaching unions are likely to oppose the switch from the traditional marking of books and written reports, claiming it will place new administrative burdens on their members.

    And critics will also point out that a computerised system would exclude poorer parents who lack internet access at home.

    However, Mr Brown has been told that the technology behind the new timetables is well tested, with some schools already providing online timetables and marking.

    The initiative follows a speech by Mr Brown shortly before he became Prime Minister in which he bemoaned the lack of "parental involvement" in schools.

    Jim Knight, the Schools Minister, confirmed the new timetables could be introduced as early as next September.

    Under the current law, schools are only obliged to provide pupil reports once a year.

    A policy report commissioned by Tony Blair called for the introduction of compulsory three-times-a-year or termly reports.

    Mr Brown's proposals are far more ambitious. Parents would be given unique passwords that would allow them to access the school computer network.

    However, they would only be able to view information about their own children.

    To further ensure privacy is not breached, the network would not contain pupils' home addresses or photographs.
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