Internet: Education

Department for Education written question – answered on 14th July 2020.

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Photo of Daniel Kawczynski Daniel Kawczynski Conservative, Shrewsbury and Atcham

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to include in the national curriculum, the teaching of moderate language and good manners for use on (a) social media platform and (b) other online fora.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

We want to support all young people to be happy, healthy and safe, and to equip them for adult life and to make a positive contribution to society. To help achieve this, Relationships Education for all primary school-aged pupils, Relationships and Sex Education for all secondary school-aged pupils, and Health Education for all pupils in state-funded schools, will become compulsory from 1 September 2020.

In light of the circumstances caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, and following engagement with the sector, the Department is reassuring schools that although the subjects will still be compulsory from 1 September 2020, schools have flexibility over how they discharge their duty within the first year of compulsory teaching. For further information, I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 10 June to Question 55660.

The principles of positive relationships apply as much online as they do offline especially as, by the end of primary school, many children will already be negotiating relationships seamlessly online and offline. The statutory guidance states that when teaching relationships content, teachers should address online safety and appropriate behaviour in a way that is relevant to pupils’ lives, including the importance of respect for others online even when they are anonymous. Within Health Education, pupils should be taught that although the internet is an integral part of life, they should understand the impact of positive and negative content online on mental and physical wellbeing, and how to consider the effect of their online actions on others and know how to recognise and display respectful behaviour online. The statutory guidance can be accessed via the following link:

To support schools, the Department is investing in a central package to help all schools to deliver these subjects. We are currently developing a new online service featuring training materials, an implementation guide and case studies. This will cover all of the teaching requirements in the statutory guidance. The first training module for teachers, covering mental wellbeing, is now available on GOV.UK, and additional content, including teacher training modules covering online safety, internet harms and media literacy will be added in the coming months.

We have also produced supporting information, Teaching Online Safety in Schools (2019), on how to teach about all aspects of internet safety, not just those relating to relationships, sex and health. This is to help schools deliver this in a coordinated and coherent way across their curriculum. This can be accessed via the following link:

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