Children in UK schools may not be getting the teaching they need to help them become the cybercitizens of the future, warns a new survey published today.
According to the survey, just under a third (29 per cent) of parents sampled think schools are "falling behind in internet teaching", and over half thought their children were not getting effective tutoring at school in the complexities of using the internet.
Nabil Shabka, chief executive and founder of education web community Schoolmaster.net, which commissioned the survey, said 46 per cent felt that "adequate teaching" on the uses of the web was being given.
"UK schools still have to convince parents that they are equipping students with the skills needed to utilise the potential of the internet," he said. "Our work with schools shows that teachers are very keen to provide this education but are lacking the resources, services and support to enable them to do this."
According to the survey, 80 per cent of schools in the UK were expected to have internet access by the end of April this year. Computers are now reaching classrooms in decent numbers, agreed a spokeswoman for the National Union of Teachers (NUT), but there remains a considerable amount of difficulty with training teachers to educate children in internet skills.
"They need proper and appropriate training, especially in the area of primary school teaching. If you take a skilled teacher out of the classroom for a day for internet training, the school has to pay a supply teacher to provide cover. While there may be computers reaching classrooms now, there is no money for extra supply teachers," she said.
More alarm bells were sounded by a separate NOP survey commissioned by internet content security specialist, Symantec. According to this survey, one in two children with internet access at home are surfing unsupervised. It also found that one in three parents with web access felt that the internet is "potentially more corrupting" than TV or film.
Aled Miles, Symantec's managing director for the UK and Ireland, said: "With estimates by NOP that over three million UK internet users are aged 17 or under [more than 40 per cent of British children], content security should be the prime consideration of anyone choosing to access the net."
Don't let your children roam cyberspace without keeping a good eye on them, was the message from the NUT spokeswoman: "Computers at home are often in dark corners of the house, and children can hear you coming! Parents should oversee what children are up to on the web. Sit with them and find out where they're surfing."
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