Pupils' faces blurred on school website

AN ESSEX primary school has been accused of “going over the top” with political correctness after it covered pupils' identities in their online newsletter with smiley faces.

By Jo Cox and Catherine Harker

AN ESSEX primary school has been accused of “going over the top” with political correctness after it covered pupils' identities in their online newsletter with smiley faces.

Cann Hall Primary School in Clacton-on-Sea took the decision after deciding parents would not want their children's faces on the internet.

The images of children playing sports, or taking part in a talk have been covered up with the cartoon smileys to prevent them being recognised.

Headteacher Clare Reece said the decision had been taken to protect the children at the 420-pupil school.

Among the images on the site is a line-up of special award winners and despite naming the children from right to left, the faces are covered up by the smiley faces.

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On the front page of the website, the school says they guarantee the content of the site is “child friendly”, adding the note: “In order to protect our children, we have made the decision not to include any photos of our pupils on this website.”

John Midgley, co-founder of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, criticised the school's decision.

He said: “The world's gone mad. This is over the top safety nonsense.

“Why on earth shouldn't the school and children be proud to display their medals and successes properly.”

Mrs Reece said staff started blurring the faces of children four years ago but a technical “blip” had lead them to start obscuring them with cartoon faces instead.

She said: “We felt strongly about internet safety and not all the parents wanted pictures of their children on the website.

“Our website is a place where we celebrate all the wonderful work that goes on at Cann Hall Primary School.

“We take internet safety very seriously, all our year-five and six children take part in an internet safety session and we invite parents into school to talk about the subject.

“We have a clear internet safety policy in school in order to protect the children. The newsletter is a celebration of what we are doing. We record achievements by taking a photograph.”

She said that they wanted to post the newsletter on the website but were worried that by putting the children's pictures along with their names and their year groups they would be risking encouraging perverts.

Mrs Reece said: “Once things go on the internet it's a much wider audience so we took the decision to blur the faces.

“There have been a number of problems with images not being blurred out (for the website). The funny faces are just a temporary measure while we sort out the blip. They are not permanent.

“I know the (cartoon) faces look a bit funny but they are only temporary.”

A spokesman for Essex County Council said schools are free to adopt their own policies on the issue.

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