Stewart Mitchell reports:
Teachers could get the right to search mobile phone content in a bid to clampdown on cyber-bullying under the new Education Bill.
The bill was introduced into parliament in January and is now being honed in committees, but education officials are split over the need for Draconian rules that would would enable teachers to search a pupil’s mobile phone.
Part of the bill’s remit is to “help teachers maintain good discipline”, and some teachers believe they should be able to investigate smartphone data to find out whether a pupil had been involved in cyber-bullying.
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Consider this quote, from the news story, from Sir Michael Wilshaw, executive principal at the Mossbourne Community Academy:
“I would have no hesitation in erasing from a mobile phone something that was deeply offensive to other students. That is very pernicious — it is worse than the fight in the playground.”
He’d have “no hesitation” about destroying someone else’s property based on his opinion of what is offensive to others? He’d have “no hesitation” about erasing something from a mobile phone – even if there was no evidence that it was created at school or being circulated at school?
This is precisely why educators should NEVER be allowed to do this. If kids are misusing cellphones, confiscate the phones and make the parents come to school to get them back.
Creating a safe environment for students does not require teachers to play cop, judge, and jury. If there’s a concern about cyberbullying, schools should be required to get judicial approval to search a cellphone. Regardless of whether it’s the UK or the US, enough is enough. Students have a right to personal privacy and I’m sick of seeing it trampled upon.