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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 July 2006, 23:27 GMT 00:27 UK
School internet 'over-regulated'
pupils with laptops
The study says schools must enthuse pupils about the internet
Pupils in the UK do not get enough access to the internet at school, a study by London University's Institute of Education has suggested.

Its report found pupils thought the internet was over-regulated by teachers, with an emphasis on prohibition rather than encouragement.

The researchers surveyed 865 UK-based 12 to 18-year-olds and interviewed 24.

The report was part of study of 7,393 young people - and further interviews with 216 - in nine European countries.

The youngsters from Belgium, France, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Poland and Portugal, as well as the UK, nearly all surfed the net as a matter of course at home.

While pupils in the UK used it in school more than their European peers, 40% believed they should have better access at school and 60% said their teachers never talked to them about the web.

Researchers also found youngsters in all countries needed help in tackling more complex issues, such as understanding the legalities involved in downloading music and handling social encounters in e-mails.

Playing online

The project's UK director, Dr Andrew Burn, said: "While UK schools are getting some things right compared with other European countries, there are still too many children who do not get sufficient opportunity to use the internet in lessons.

"Schools need to do more to harness the communicative possibilities of this powerful technology, which allows children to communicate, co-operate, play and learn online."

Dr Burn acknowledged there had been much more emphasis on creative uses of information and communication technology (ICT) in the past five years, but he said web use needed even more "freedom, spread and tolerance" in UK schools.

And the focus on information retrieval had eclipsed the communication aspect of ICT, he added.

"It is alarming that the secondary ICT curriculum contains 16 references to information, and none at all to communication, given that communication is what young people use the internet for," he said.

"This suggests a dramatic mismatch between school attitudes to ICT and the internet, and those which students find important and need to learn about.

"We want to tap into children's and young people's media culture."

A spokesperson for the Department for Education and Skills said: "Raising awareness among young people of the opportunities and risks associated with internet use is the responsibility of everyone working in education.

"Independent reports highlight the advantages of the internet and make clear that the UK is well placed in terms of its usage by school children."

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