All in all just another brick in the wall
I am ashamed to say that it took a Trades Union objection to alert me to this: the Education Bill. According to the BBC, NASUWT (National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers) general secretary Chris Keates said:
“The extra powers in the bill to search and confiscate and dispose of electronic equipment and data are disproportionate powers that teachers don’t really want, and actually could cause more conflict and more problems for schools rather than actually tackling discipline.
“In many respects they are reckless and they are putting teachers into confrontation with parents and with children and young people.”
NASUWT teaching union attacks school phone powers
So what’s this about? Well, according to the Bill itself:
(6E) The person [eg, a teacher] who seized the item [eg, ‘an electronic device’ belonging to a pupil] may examine any data or files on the device, if the person thinks there is a good reason to do so.
(6F) Following an examination under subsection (6E), if the person has decided to return the item to its owner, retain it or dispose of it, the person may erase any data or files from the device if the person thinks there is a good reason to do so.
What this means is that if a teacher finds a mobile phone (or an iPod or a tablet) on a pupil, that teacher can confiscate the device and examine any personal files it contains. Said teacher can then either delete the files or even destroy the device. That’s what it says. And it is a long time since I heard such a ridiculous, authoritarian, draconian, illiberal, high-handed and utterly absurd suggestion.
If a pupil is misusing an electronic device at school – confiscate it. Give it back at the school gates at the end of the day. But for God’s sake, Gove, you cannot really think you have the right to spy on young people’s personal data, to delete that data and even destroy the device? Next time you look at the Education Bill, have half a mind on the Freedom Bill.
And in the meantime, kids, you better look into two factor authentication to control access to your phones; and encryption to protect what you’ve got on them.