Here is a link
Kent Statement re the blocking of Sparklebox - e-Safety in Schools
Slight differences here MJ was never convicted , MJ didn't change his name, MJ didn't have a website that may allowed users to download a toolbar with an unknown payload.'Using sparklebox is like listening to a Micheal Jackson record - Great music, but thinking about the man behind it makes you feel guilty'
Yes teachers can't do this at school but if sparkle box is advertised on their handouts to kids who then visit the site at home download the toolbar who are the parents going to come knocking at the door of...
On a similar musical note Kick the Who off the Super Bowl, say child-abuse protesters | Music | guardian.co.uk
SimpleSi (6th January 2010)
What on earth does "give due consideration to a website specific school risk analysis and risk management plan." mean?
Everyone is afraid of litigation. Would it really be the end of the world for a pen pusher somewhere to put his foot down and force all LEAs to block access to the site/toolbar until further notice?
Simple to translate ...
The resources themselves are good but there are lots of risks associated with getting them.
1 - The person associated with it all is being dealt with as not suitable to have anything to do with children.
2 - The site itself has a number of risks due to unmoderated chat / social networks and would be unsuitable for children to go on it.
3 - Teachers might have ethical difficulties with the site and it is really on a school by school, teacher by teacher choice about whether they continue to use the site and this is recognised by CEOP. LAs and RBCs might have a preferred position on this but know that some people would still use the resources anyway.
4 - Until all the legal stuff has been done and dusted then there are complications and no-one wants to put the case in jeopardy.
My *very* personal opinion is that the site shouldn't be used, others who have created resources that are on there should look for alternative places to share their materials (there are places out there including the TES forums ... and eventually the National Digital Resource Bank) and we should move on ... this is not the LA position (we still have not published an official position) but we are monitoring the other LAs and Grids for their responses too.
From our Chief Executive;
A while ago, I took the step of blocking access to Sparklebox via our filtering service – a move which has not proved popular in a number of quarters either in this region or in the other regions which took the same action.
However, I attach a statement from the South West Grid for Learning which contains some further information which forms the basis of my decision to continue blocking Sparkelbox.
I will continue to keep you informed as the situation develops, but I would be grateful if you would disseminate the attached statement to whoever you think needs the information to make an informed decision about safeguarding in your schools. It is, of course, possible for a teacher to override our filtering, but our strong advice is that teachers should think carefully before doing so.
Yorkshire and Humber Grid for Learning
For some time Sparklebox.co.uk, a web site offering free learning and materials has been filtered by the South West Grid for Learning Trust over concerns relating to areas within the site linking to social networking and other elements outside of the SWGfL Trust policies on Internet use.
There have been other elements relating to Safeguarding which the Trust have been unable to reveal within current disclosure laws in the UK. Police liaison has been at the forefront of this action and advice has been sought throughout. The police are unable to offer any assistance in disclosure but are aware of the concerns of the Trust and its members. They are focused on offender management and future management and they feel they have discharged their role.
Advice has been taken through Michael Longden of Irwin Mitchell solicitors throughout the police investigation and the following advice in the form of a limited disclosure has been agreed today. It is the intention of the Trust to circulate this statement to Trust Management Board members, the DCS in each SWGfL Trust member authority, GOSW and the RBC Directors from each of the other 9 NEN regions
“It is understood that a person who is on the record as an owner and director of Sparklebox Teacher Resources Limited (which appears to claim ownership of the SparkleBox web site and childrens learning materials) is a registered sex offender who has recently admitted a second offence, is currently on remand in prison and is awaiting sentence in January.
The police are to be congratulated on what they have achieved. South West Grid for Learning Trust has been unable to disclose anything about this before now because to do so could have prejudiced police work.
In the circumstances the Trust will continue to block sparklebox.co.uk unless and until satisfied that suitable safeguarding arrangements have been made.
All SWGfL Trust schools have the ability, through SWGfL Filtering administration settings, either to abide by or to overrule the central filter lists and deny or allow access to any website. Schools are always recommended to override any filter only after due consideration of a website specific school risk analysis and risk management plan"
Further to this statement put out by RBCs, the following has been issued by CEOP:
Just in case you haven’t seen the statement just copied on by Ruth Hammond from Becta, here is a statement issued by CEOP regarding SparkleBox:
Statement from CEOP
Classification: NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED//
Following queries into the website sparklebox.co.uk over the past couple of months, CEOP have investigated the website and its management. It should be noted that Sparklebox’s primary aim is to provide resources for schools (in particular teachers) but that there are opportunities for pictures of young people to be sent in and be published online and that until recently there was a live blog. Sparklebox state that all staff have been through relevant checks however CEOP can support the recent SWGfL statement released this week, an extract of which is below:
“It is understood that a person who is on the record as an owner and director of Sparklebox Teacher Resources Limited (which appears to claim ownership of the SparkleBox web site and children’s learning materials) is a registered sex offender who has recently admitted a second offence, is on remand in prison and is awaiting sentence in January.”
CEOP are also aware that a number of RBC’s and Local Authorities have blocked sparklebox.co.uk until they are satisfied that suitable safeguarding arrangements are in place. CEOP supports this stance and would recommend that any schools who choose to overrule their central filtering lists give due consideration to a website specific school risk analysis and risk management plan.
Phil Moore continues:
We will continue to block the site.
It would be worth underlining to anyone who questions the blocking of the site, or who raises any other issues, that any other ‘information’ about SparkleBox should be treated with caution and its provenance questioned before it is disseminated any further or taken as authoritative.
I will continue to keep you informed as and when more information is released.
Yorkshire and Humber Grid for Learning
I trust you will all now appreciate the things that have been going on behind the scenes and our inability to really go any deeper into the reasons for blocking other than our previous statements. Our primary concern has always been safeguarding children.
Best Regards and a happy new year to you all,
Head of Support Services
Appears embc have now placed a global block.
I think the download link to the Wiltshire document did the trick!
Yep we just been told to block this too from the head
This is on the mewan site
SparkleBox Website: Access to the SparkleBox website has been blocked for all MEWAN subscribing schools following investigations into its ownership. This action has been supported by senior officers in the Education Department following recommendation from BECTA and CEOP. (more info)
This statement was released from the South West Learning Grid and has been subsequently repeated by BECTA.
"It is understood that a person who is on the record as an owner and director of Sparklebox Teacher Resources Limited (which appears to claim ownership of the SparkleBox web site and children’s’ learning materials) is a registered sex offender who has recently admitted a second offence, is on remand in prison and is awaiting sentence in January."
The blocking by MEWAN is a currently a blanket approach to ensure effective child protection across the City, however we are keeping the situation under review for developments from SparkleBox and BECTA.
Hmm.. meanwhile some LAs didn't feel compelled to do anything at all, or at least not until they could make a relatively honest statement about why. Were some being negligent towards that duty of care? Or were others peeing away time=public money [that perhaps could have done something small but **real** for a victim or vulnerable kid or two?] fretting, debating and then publishing advance half-truths?I trust you will all now appreciate the things that have been going on behind the scenes and our inability to really go any deeper into the reasons for blocking other than our previous statements.
There are risks in breathing, the trick is quantifying them and no one, but no one, seems prepared to try and quantify the risks of not filtering in this case. No doubt because there is another set of risks in doing so, but I expect no one has bothered to size those up properly either.
Perhaps I'm wrong, but having done a fair bit of that breathing over the years my instincts say "negligible" i.e. this is yet another case of Moral Panic[tm]. From where I'm sitting the story so far doesn't appear to have done e-safety any favours.
ayoward (11th January 2010)
We have just issued an update statement to our local authority partners and thought it would be useful to you for us to post it here as well.
By now you will be aware that Samuel Kinge, a shareholder and director of the company that owns the website Sparklebox.co.uk, was convicted last week for possession of indecent images of children. He was sentenced to a year in jail, will stay on the Sex Offender’s Register for 10 years and will be the subject of a Sexual Offences Protection Order for 15 years – this will prevent him accessing the Internet unless the device he uses is monitored by the Police.
Yorkshire and Humber Grid for Learning (YHGfL), along with many other RBCs and local authorities, blocked the website due to concerns about some elements of interactivity on the site, the fact that the operators of the site do not have CRB clearance and about the downloadable toolbar which had an unidentified payload. It is worth noting that many users who are trying to uninstall the toolbar are facing some significant difficulties in doing so successfully without causing problems to their systems.
YHGfL takes its responsibilities seriously as it provides ISP services for around 250,000 users and eSafety and eSecurity advice and consultancy for its 13 local authority members. We are especially pleased that the coordinated response between the members of the National Education Network, led in this instance by the South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL), provided considered leadership and advice to the many institutions who became aware of the situation.
While the situation regarding the owner of the site appears to have been resolved, YHGfL remains vigilant and will, like all RBCs, seek to develop, maintain and disseminate the highest possible standards of eSafety and eSecurity. Some concerns still remain about SparkleBox and so we will continue to block the site until we are convinced that its use presents no threat to systems or users.
Yorkshire and Humber Grid for Learning
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