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Pupils access dodgy website in security breach

By David G Scott

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Highland Council is aware of "an incident involving a small number of pupils" who used a search engine and app to access a previously blocked website – by-passing filters and security on a school Chromebook.

The school in the Highland region has not been named.

Executive chief officer for education, Nicky Grant, said: “The effective use of digital technology, and in particular, the 1:1 Chromebook model, has been highlighted both locally and nationally as a strength of our remote learning policy and curriculum in Highland.

"Online safety is an integral part of this strategy. We live in an increasingly digital world. The benefits are immense, but it is really important that parents and carers are aware of how to stay safe online and to talk to their children about it.”

The council says it has invested a significant amount of resources towards ensuring that when pupils access their 1:1 Chromebook, they are equipped with the tools and confidence to remain safe online.

Stock picture of boy on internet. Picture: AdobeStock
Stock picture of boy on internet. Picture: AdobeStock

The site in question was blocked last year, however, some pupils found a workaround. The current filtering solution on Chromebooks, will block any direct attempt to access inappropriate sites, including social media, based on categories including pornography, gambling and extremist material.

As soon as Highland Council learned of this breach, the local authority took immediate action to prevent the workaround. The head teacher has written to parents and provided advice.

Schools are supported to ensure that online safety messages are delivered to both pupils and parents and the council has clear guidance within both the Acceptable Use Policy and the Chromebook Agreement issued to all pupils when given a device.

This includes the expectation that pupils will use their device responsibly and that any inappropriate use may result in their device being removed or access to digital tools being withdrawn. In addition, when a Chromebook goes home, there is an expectation of parental supervision, as there would be on any personal device such as a phone or tablet.

For more information visit the Highland Online Safety Centre sites.google.com/highlandschools.net/highlandonlinesafetycentre/home

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