Primary school pupils should NOT have smartphones or unlimited internet access, Ofsted’s leader warns

Primary school pupils should NOT have smartphones or unlimited internet access, Ofsted leader tells parents

  • Ofsted’s boss said she was “not comfortable” with children having phones
  • Unlimited internet access was also a concern of Amanda Spielman
  • Her thoughts come at a time when online safety law is hotly debated
  • Nonetheless, the ASCL has requested major changes to the Ofsted inspection system

Ofsted’s boss suggested that children should not have uncontrolled internet access or smartphones at a young age.

The watchdog’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, expressed surprise to learn that elementary school children and former high school students sometimes own cellphones.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live about accessing explicit content online, she said: “I’m not comfortable with younger kids having unlimited internet access.

Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman expressed surprise to hear that children in primary and secondary schools have mobile phones

Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman expressed surprise to hear that children in primary and secondary schools have mobile phones

“I am very surprised when children of primary school age have smartphones, for example, even in secondary school. It’s really hard to manage.’

The interview comes at a time when the Online Safety Act is hotly debated and 50 MPs are currently pushing for stricter child safety rules.

However, internet safety activists have hailed the law as a “great relief” for the families of children affected by harmful content online.

Despite her reservations about children’s cell phone access, Ms. Spielman acknowledged the difficulties in fully controlling the lives of “teens”.

She suggested that it’s the role of parents and schools to “make sure kids are able to bypass all of these unwanted influences.”

Despite her views, a number of school leaders have come forward today calling for an end to Ofsted’s graduated sentences.

Ofsted's boss suggested that children should not have uncontrolled internet access or smartphones at a young age

Ofsted’s boss suggested that children should not have uncontrolled internet access or smartphones at a young age

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has published a paper proposing long- and short-term changes to the inspection system.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Graduated appraisals are a shockingly blunt tool to measure performance as they fail to take into account the diverse circumstances in which schools operate.

“Negative judgments carry enormous stigma and create a vicious circle that makes improvement difficult. We know from discussions with members that the criminal inspection system is contributing to the education recruitment and retention crisis by increasing the pressure on school leaders and making it more difficult to recruit highly qualified staff in the schools that need them most.’

Tom Middlehurst, Curriculum, Assessment and Inspection Specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders said: “We recognize the need for an independent regulator and recognize that there are some positives to the current framework for education inspection.

“But many school and college leaders believe the framework is flawed and Ofsted is at risk of losing the confidence of the profession. We believe that the changes proposed in this paper, if implemented, could help regain that trust and create an oversight system that is fair, reliable and in the best interests of children and young people.”

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Emma Colton

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