back to article Teachers vote to ban internet

British teachers have launched an all out war against technology, with calls this week to ban YouTube and Wi-Fi. Pupils under the age of seven or over 16 have also come in for a whacking from fed-up Sirs and Misses. Technology has proliferated in schools in recent years, with teachers getting their coffee and roll-up stained …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Give that man a cigar

    Great article.

    I work with several "educationalists" and I have to answer straight-faced concerns such as those aired by the PAT.

    A little bit of well-directed scorn is genuinely what these people need.

  2. Chris Miller

    Wi-fi nuts

    I assume none of these 'professionals' are involved in the teaching of science subjects. Oh I forgot, we don't teach science any more, since the existence of right and wrong answers tends to bring down the GCSE averages

  3. paul

    school is for socialising not learning

    Any middle class parent will substantiate this.

    The rise of the private tutor is the key indicator to follow.

    If parents can't afford private tution, so be it.

  4. Alan Donaly

    I'm against it

    Teachers afraid of internet because they don't know how to use it effectively are unaware they can make it do whatever they want think it's a big searchable tv aren't aware of programable nature of the medium can't figure out how to block video sites can't figure out they can control everything the students do and create some of what they see it's dirt simple and they still haven't done it what a bunch of fools.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is just the thing we have to put up with everyday

    This is just what we at EduGeek have to put up with everyday. Incidentally, most of these teachers would be the ones that dump software on our desks and want it installed site wide by the end of the day, regardless of the fact is is out of date, for the wrong platform and they have only purchased one licence for it! They only dislike the technology because it has made them have to learn new skills above shouting and launching board erasers across the room.

  6. Simon Robinson

    Great news

    Teachers ban all computers and electronic devices from the school.

    First: how will they spend their break times now they can't go on facebook/myspace/chat with friends over MSN?

    Second: will I still get paid to sit at work (school) all day now there's no computers to fix?

  7. arran

    and this is a surprise because?

    Teachers are constantly trying to avoid work - they are better at it then us IT professionals, not to mention teachers get paid more then most of us as well.

    more excuses for them to do little or no work and get paid huge amounts for it.

  8. Skavenger


    Maybe we should just sack them all and start afresh?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Come on now

    OH, FER FUCK'S SAKE! One episode of Quackorama and a few musings from opportunist Faraday paint mongers and everyone's running around hysterically foretelling the extermination of humanity via the latest radio wave emitting technology again.

    Look people, you've had microwave ovens in your homes for 20 years now and they emit probably 3 or 4 orders of magnitude more radiation than your Wi-Fi router does. And don't say you don't stand right next to it, staring through the glass and willing it to finish when there's 15 seconds left on the clock. We all do it, and we're not all cancer patients as a result.

  10. Dave Murray

    Something else to blame?

    "These include loss of concentration, fatigue, reduced memory and headaches."

    I remember pupils suffering from all of these back in the days before WiFi (and mobile phones) when I was at school.

    loss of concentration - caused by boring teachers with monotonous voices?

    fatigue - caused by lack of good nutrition in school meals?

    reduced memory - caused by bad teachers or teaching methods?

    headaches - caused by poor quality, flickering flourescent lighting?

    Sounds like we should ban bad teachers, bad school meals and bad lighting to me.

  11. Bumhug

    loss of concentration, fatigue, reduced memory and headaches

    Hmmm looking back to when I was at school

    Loss of concentration? Check

    Fatigue? Check

    Reduced memory? Possible, was a long time ago and cant remember that far back

    Headaches? Dunno if I had them but was a good excuse to get morning/afternoon off so check

    Maybe I should sue for being subjected to government experiements when I was at school. Or maybe as it was over 15 years ago my claims are pointless rather like those being made at the moment

  12. NRT


    "which could be down to radio waves cooking the brains of pupils and teachers alike"

    Well someone's brain appears to have been fried!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More 1st class journalism

    "The PAT’s other targets this week included government plans to raise the school leaving age in the UK to 18, in the hopes that some of the nation’s youth might actually pick up some useful skills. The conference voted against it."



    Funnily enough, every motion the Professional Association of Teachers debated was carried. Perhaps they should open a branch in China."

    Riiiight so they carried the school leaving age motion by voting against it?

    F- could do better...

  14. RichardB

    Sliderules and abacuses too good for em?

    Sooner we do away with education for the young the better. After all, with a modern spell check and accesibility tools who needs skills such as reading or writing? Comprehension skills are overated at best, and positively controversial at worst.

    Maths? Don't make me laugh. Why on earth would anyone in this day and age need to understand addition and division, let alone concepts such as compound interest, percentages and fractional reserve banking.

    Fortunately our entire economy rests on the new paradigm of the so called 'Knowledge Economy'. Stands to reason that the employers should foot the bill for training their staff...

  15. Rob

    Ah, now it all makes sense

    Look we know teachers are uselss nowadays and we know most kids are thick (most of the ones I had taught in FE certainly are).

    When is someone going to grow some balls and address this problem at the root, the blame clearly lies with the parents, where else to kids get shaped the most, by one of their major influences, Parents.

    Parents are not like gunmakers, just cause they make the gun doesn't mean they are responsible for it killing someone. Parents made the kid and they are responsible by law for them up to a certain age.

    Responsibility seems to be a swear word in todays spineless society.

    (climbs down off soap box, still sightly fuming over the useless people in this world that think their voice is worth hearing).

  16. Chris Collins

    Brain melt

    Didn't they already have an experiment where they turned some of the wifi devices off without telling the eperimentees, who still complained of lethargia and headaches generated by the electronic bogeyman? Perhaps it's because they are receiving Radio 2 on their fillings.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scary stuff

    It's not just the fact that these people can influence education policy that scares me but the fact that some of them are actual teachers. Some of these ignorant, short-sided, paraniod, misguided do-gooders actually interact and 'teach' our children. Queue a new generation of idiots.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Displacement activity?

    I am no psychologist but isn't this a symptom of displacement activity exercise by teachers as they are no longer allowed to punish the kids they "teach"?

    If that is the case, we shouldn't blame teachers for their misinformed and anally-retentive behaviour but lay the problem directly at the government who introduced the law in the first place. My opinion is that the UK government has been infiltrated by frustrated do-gooders who spout "human-rights" every five minutes and paradoxically apply the Act to the point of anarchy.

    PS. Anyone supporting this motion please note: Ban organisations like YouTube and such material will spring up elsewhere (like trying to ban porn sites). Ban the Internet and we will return to the Dark Ages (are you teachers or luddites?) The solution is discipline for kids and the law changed to allow that to happen. So what if some poor kid goes home with a sore bottom?

  19. Greg


    "Parkin demanded an inquiry into the technology, pointing to a range of maladies which could be down to radio waves cooking the brains of pupils and teachers alike. These include loss of concentration, fatigue, reduced memory and headaches."

    Yes, this student appears to have a severe case of teenager. Obviously brought on by evil wi-fi. But mobiles phone are alright, oh yes.

    Bloody Panorama.

  20. Mike Smith

    You! Yes, you behind the bike sheds! Stand still, laddie!

    "Funnily enough, every motion the Professional Association of Teachers debated was carried. Perhaps they should open a branch in China."

    Not funny, boy. Come here and bend over <whack whack whack>

    Stop snivelling. Go and sit down. And while you're reflecting on the error of your ways, write out 500 times, "I must not cast unfounded aspersions against the education system".

    I'll have respect from you boy, by God I will.

  21. cor


    Won't they ever learn.

  22. cor


    Just another brick in the firewall

  23. Shaun

    They're not all idiots - honest!

    I've just finished rolling out our new Meru wireless network around our school - I've had one teacher make slightly negative comments about it, and that's it. The rest of the staff haven't been taken in by the BBC's scare mongering, and my IT budget keeps going up every year.

    I know schools like mine are in the minority, but they do exist.

    Good luck to all the school techies out there who are not as fortunate.


    - A school Network Admin somewhere in the south east.

  24. KS


    I wonder if the PAT realise what a bunch of uninformed idiots they look like to the rest of the wolrd? Most of the comments from their members display a total and utter lack of understanding of technology, or even the 20th century, let alone this one.

    Still, educashun, educashun, educashun, eh.....

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Who are the Professional Association of Teachers? I come from a family of teachers (four of them are at last count) and I've never heard of them mentioned. The one that I have just spoken to hasn't even heard of them. So I don't think that they speak for all teachers by a long shot.

    As for U-Tube - I can't see any reason for this to be generally available in schools, especially regarding the amount of 'happy slapping' etc on it. It also sucks up everyone else's bandwidth.

    Now for banning WiFi - I'm going to go out on a limb and guess the the PAT are a non-science based union/organisation? And further out on a limb to suggest that they watched that panorama and took it at face value.

    Of all the teachers that I know, I don't know a single one who wants WiFi out of their schools. They know a few people who reckon that we should "think of the children" but they are generally regarded as nutters, vocal, but nutters nontheless.

    For further WiFi/electrohypersensitivity go to:

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To carry or not to carry?

    First you say "The PAT’s other targets this week [...] The conference voted against it.", and a little later, "Funnily enough, every motion the Professional Association of Teachers debated was carried."

    OK, which is it - did they vote against one of the motions, as you state first, or did they carry all motions as you state secondly?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PAT has no credibility

    Teachers' union in intellectual dishonesty non-shock:

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its White Man's Magic

    Why dont they also blame the rise in teenage pregnancies, bullying, Vandalism, Underage Drinking etc on WI-FI and the Internet as well?

    Maybe the blame to all this could be seen a lot cleared if they looked in a mirror! The standard of teachers and their ability to control pupils have dropped drastically in the same amount of time.

    Its the Teachers not Technology that requires changing. The pupils will still have the same access to the Internet from home, and probably via wireless magic from their bedrooms.

    All those in favour of this motion say 'Aye!'

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: More 1st class journalism

    "Riiiight so they carried the school leaving age motion by voting against it?"

    Presumably the conference motion was to oppose the government's plans and the conference carried it by agreeing to oppose those plans?

    Remedial English for you!

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: More 1st class journalism

    "The PAT’s other targets this week included government plans to raise the school leaving age in the UK to 18, in the hopes that some of the nation’s youth might actually pick up some useful skills. The conference voted against it."

    So it was the government's plan, and the PAT targeted it, in other words they wanted to shoot it down - so they voted against it (or depending on how the motion was phrased to them, voted *for* *not* adopting it, thus carrying it)... it's convoluted but it could make sense...


  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The internet isn't for young minds.

    They should boot off these whippersnappers, and increase bandwidth for the rest of us to download "educational" material!!

  32. This post has been deleted by its author

  33. Dogbyte

    Candle in the WiFi

    Are the PAT in league with Elton John?,,2-2007350453,00.html

  34. julian

    What next

    Next they'll be trying to ban academics from Israel. Oh they've tried that one already.

    It would be nice to see them concentrating on teaching for a change!

  35. Dillon Pyron

    Just block the sites

    My current customer has a proxy that blocks sites like YouTube and Facebook. It also blocks all IMs. And I'm lucky to get el Reg and /., since they sometimes present ideas that might be controversial or cause me to think.

    And I think the WiFi thing has been throughly debunked. Or does the PAT only believe research that fits their views? That case might cause them to be called "the religious right" in the US.

  36. regadpellagru

    optic fibers to all schools PCs ?

    "But Phillip Parkin, general secretary of the Professional Teachers Association, told the organization’s annual conference yesterday that the nation’s children were being used as “guinea pigs” in a massive Wi-Fi safety experiement."

    LOL, then, why not put optic fibers cards behind each PC, then ? That way, the whole school would be RF-sanitized, believe me. Surely we can find some moron to believe CAT5-ethernet dangerously emits RF (Oh dear, I'm contamined !), thus only fiber is safe. Of course, that should follow a complete ban of mobile phones in an area of a good 150 km, all level of emission being equal ;-)

    Small problem: the price. But that would be the price of stupidity, no ?

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: "not to mention teachers get paid more then most of us as well."

    Err... What gave you that idea? I took a BTEC in Engineering, specialising in electronics, dropped out of my degree and have been working in IT, specialising in storage, backup and DR for about ten years. When my father retired three years ago, as one of the most senior secondary headteachers in the area of the UK in which he worked, I was earning almost the same as him. I am now earning more than he would have been earning had he kept working.

  38. Mark

    Blame Blair

    On the basis that teachers in general view any government comment or initiative as a personal attack on them and their abilities. Blair (like most in goverment, it seems) is famously IT illiterate at a personal level, yet relentlessly pushed the internet as a cure all for any educational ill, without any actual working knowledge of what it might offer. Government says "black", teachers instinctively say "white".

  39. Doug Manton

    RE: I'm against it

    From your post I must assume that you're also against punctuation!

  40. Doug Manton

    There are other factors which influence health

    "These include loss of concentration, fatigue, reduced memory and headaches."

    More likely that these are caused by a combination of poor diet, dehydration, lack of sleep and lack of exercise.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @By julian

    That would be the university lecturers who are discussing weather or not to work with Israli universities, not the teachers.

  42. Daniel Ballado-Torres

    The real fear

    ... is not Wi-Fi cooking their brains, it is students bumping into Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall (part2)" video and get ideas.

    "... all in all you're just another brick in the (fire)wall"

  43. Michael

    Cacophony of responses

    Regarding those complaining about an apparent contradiction in the story that "The PAT’s other targets this week [...] The conference voted against it.", and a little later, "Funnily enough, every motion the Professional Association of Teachers **debated** was carried.": (emphasis mine)

    It is possible that the PAT voted down the governments proposal without debating it. Debate != Vote.

    @Alan Donaly:

    Apparently, you're also against comma use. Back to primary school with you!

    @Dave Murray:


    Finally, the real issue is the continuing decline in parents' ability and desire to...ahem...parent their children. If they're not taught responsibility at home, then they're never going to get it at school. They won't respect teachers, and ultimately, that leads to a decline in academic performance, as children continue to be allowed to believe that it's ok to be disruptive and to believe that they don't HAVE to learn because someone else will hand them what they need on a silver platter.

    Here in the states we have this archais "no child left behind" idea. The child doesn't care and doesn't want to DO anything to get their education -- LEAVE THEM THE HELL BEHIND!! You don't get to learn by osmosis.

  44. heystoopid


    Sad , just another demonstration of the "Peter Principle" at work in the 21st Century!

  45. Tim Bates

    I work in a school...

    I work in a school (in rural NSW Australia), and trust me, it's not the WiFi that leaves me with headaches, etc. It's the flickering lights, crap furniture, and the damn kids.

    I don't get headaches at home, where we have more wireless APs with higher outputs.

    Oh, and way back when I was a student, I had all those symptoms too. I finished school at the same time 802.11b was released as a standard, so it can't be that.

    Crazy tin-foil hat brigade.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More erroneous copy from "Register England"... :-(

    > So there you have it, the UK’s education system is in a state...

    The UK doesn't HAVE "an" education system, for God's sake: there's one in England and Wales, and another (completely different) one in Scotland - what on Earth is an "A level" anyway...? :-)

    It's a different country - it has (and always has had) its own criminal and civil legal systems, its own education system, and its banks issue their own banknotes (£1 notes are alive and well in Scotland). How many times does El Reg need to be told?

    PS - Philip Parkin, General Secretary of the Professional Association of Teachers (PAT), said: "I have concerns about the health of both pupils and staff."

    Wot? Only TWO PUPILS left in schools across the entire UK? Or maybe a teacher with a better grasp of English grammar might have said "I have concerns about the health both of pupils and of staff."

  47. John Browne

    Wi-Fi is the wrong target.

    If they want a culprit, they should consider the cheapo CRT monitor.

    Those things chuck out a lot more RF energy than a WAP, plus some ozone and a small amount of X-rays. Filthy things.

    Sure, TV sets have done the same since the 1950s, but the TV is usually on the other side of the room, while the monitor is 18 inches from your nose.

    I found life easier after my CRTs were retired and replaced with LCDs.

  48. matty

    Re: "not to mention teachers get paid more then most of us as well."


    I work in IT, my other half is a teacher (...and is the ICT Co-Ordinator), does not get paid more than me, works longer hours, has never heard of PAT and doesn't believe any of that WiFi or whiteboard scaremongering nonsense either...

    Most teachers these days are anything but lazy, with increasing class sizes, problem children, a growing range of subjects to cover, little or no support from their superiors (and parents) and dwindling budgets sucked up by needless bureaucracy... All this after several years in training, a few thousand pounds of debt in student loans for fees and living expenses and a generous salary of 21,000...

    I never realised teachers had it so easy these days...</sarcasm>

  49. Dan

    Oh god

    i always find super-protective parents comical. im 15, and still in secondary school. my school has just upgraded its e-registration system on to laptops. before it was based on a proprietry network made by Bromcom. what i find humorous is that the old bromcom system operated at double the power, and required double the number of APs across the school to provide a reliable signal. But no one knew about it. i find this all so humorous yet sad at the same time. if we are that paranoid well we should move back to candles and slate and pencils. turn off every form of radio communication and shield out the sun to reflect all the radiation from that back in to space. there are far more dangerous things about, for example approx. 25 miles from me is an ex MOD nuclear research facility, and the site was a prime target for the soviets during the cold war.

  50. Jason Rivers

    not another WiFi Baff...

    "These include loss of concentration, fatigue, reduced memory and headaches."

    I had that when I was at school, Technology has nothing to do with it, I was lucky if I got to play space invaders on a BBC Micra!

    Actually, you were lucky to find me concentrating atall at school, it wasn't anything to do with technology, it was simply the fact that I didn't want to be there, I figured sitting at home writing another game on my Sinclair ZX Spectrum was much more intuative, as it turns out, now working for a programming company, it probably was!

    I find my headaches are less around this "infected WiFi" space. It's quite nice! =)


  51. Tim Coughlin

    Comment from across the pond

    Ok, I'm now impressed. I work (tech support) for a school district outside Philadelphia, PA in the US. I used to think the teachers here were particuarly anti-tech until I read this article. I'd best not show this article around lest the local union get's any ideas...

  52. M Neligan


    Sensing some hostility here: time to move on?

    Not a contradiction: they voted against the Governments's proposal - not one of their own. Comprehension level: 2?

    Most school networks have Youtube, Myspace etc. etc. filtered out.

    Wifi and scrambled brains? Hm, judging by these comments...

  53. Oliverh

    RE: optic fibers to all schools PCs ?

    Optic Fibres? To all PCs? With crazy lasers scrambling about all through them? What if they "leak" "laser" (whatever that is?) out all over the children? the children!!!!!! WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN??!?!?!??!??!

    Reminds me of Bill Bailey quoting Rosie O'Donnell>

    "There’s this one celebrity, Rosie O’Donnell, a talk show host, and she said this: “I don’t know anything about Afghanistan, but I know it’s full of terrorists, speaking as a mother.” So what is this "speaking as a mother" then? Is it a euphemism for "well, talking out of my arse"? "Suspending rational thought for a moment"? As a rational human being, Al-Qaeda are a loose association of fundamentalist zealots who could be rounded up with a sustained police investigation. But speaking as a parent, they’re all eight foot tall, they’ve got lasers under their moustaches, a huge eye in their foreheads and the only way to kill them is to nuke every country that hasn’t sent us a Christmas card in the the last 20 years. Speaking as a mother…"

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No switch off here

    Having spent millions on IT of recent years, including switching to a thin client network and running an electronic register and IT room reservation service, I feel it is unlikely our local college will be switching off it's WiFi so quickly.

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