School staff sacked over porn searches

THREE members of staff at Suffolk schools – including one teacher – have been sacked in the last four years after searching for pornography on school equipment, we can reveal today.

Following a Freedom of Information request to Suffolk County Council, it has come to light a further seven members of staff have also been disciplined, many receiving final written warnings since the school year 2006/07.

Last night, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said the findings were “worrying” and the control of some schools computer systems in the county were not rigorous enough.

The sacked teacher was dismissed after investigations revealed they had accessed an inappropriate website in the school year 2008/09.

An administration assistant was also sacked without notice for misuse of school IT equipment in 2006/07 and a residential caretaker was dismissed with immediate effect for inappropriate use of computer equipment in 2008/09.


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Suffolk County Council would not reveal the location of the schools where the incidents took place.

Three of the ten members of staff investigated received final warnings – a teacher for inappropriate use of computer equipment in 2007/08, an administration assistant and a cover supervisor in 2008/09 for inappropriate use of computer equipment, receiving and forwarding an e-mail with inappropriate pictures attached.

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Another four members of staff were given warnings by management – a teacher for misuse of school IT equipment in 2006/07, an administration assistant for receiving and forwarding an e-mail with inappropriate pictures attached in 2008/09 and another teacher for accessing an inappropriate website this year.

Graham Newman, the county councillor responsible for children, schools and young people, said any incident of school staff accessing pornography was “totally unacceptable.”

Graham White, secretary of the Suffolk division of the NUT, said more should be done in the few schools where filters were not preventing people accessing banned material.

He said: “Pretty much all schools that I am aware of have a whole range of filters so people should not be able to access those types of sites on school computers.

“But it is worrying it is still happening, some school’s ICT systems are not rigorous enough.

“Pupils may find ways around the filters and it is possible where staff, teaching assistants and teachers take laptops home it will be possible to access these sites as there are no longer the filters in place.”

Mr Newman said: “Any incident of this nature is totally unacceptable and must be fully investigated, with appropriate action taken where cases are proven.

“Whilst the number of incidents over the four years is low, no incident is acceptable and schools should continue to both monitor and strengthen their procedures around the use of their IT equipment.”

Mr White added that all schools have very strict IT policies which prohibit staff from accessing any adult sites, conducting business, booking holidays or shopping.

“I am aware of a case I personally dealt with where there was an allegation school equipment had been used in that way,” he said.

“As soon as there is any suspicion equipment is being used the county council have to investigate. Allegations like this are taken very seriously.”

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