Editor's comment

9th February 2007 at 00:00
Viewers who tune in to BBC1 each Sunday to watch the overheated goings-on in a mythical comprehensive school, Waterloo Road, might have wondered whether life had begun to imitate art this week. Hard on the heels of an alleged attack by a pupil on the headteacher of Gleniffer High in Renfrewshire came the highly-publicised alleged assault on the rector of Hawick High by one of his pupils (p9), followed quickly by the revelation that two pupils of Aberdeen Grammar had been filmed having sex. What would its most famous old boy, Lord Byron, have made of it all?

These, and other incidents, are clearly abusive and intolerable in human terms. But, with mobile phone cameras used in the Hawick and Aberdeen incidents, they also constitute an abuse of technology, which is so pervasive a presence in schools and which, uncannily, was the centre of a storyline in a recent episode of Waterloo Road. We all anticipated that the internet had the potential to change the face of education - for good and ill. Now, it seems, the face of the internet is making an appearance in the form of YouTube - for ill.

Alan Williamson, the rector of Hawick High, could be forgiven for wondering whether a measured and proportionate response to these incidents is the appropriate one: a consensus around the fact that there should be no outright ban on mobile phones in schools but that they should be switched off during school hours - as adults have to do in equivalent circumstances.

To his credit, as he explained to a conference last week - intended, ironically, to enthuse aspiring heads - Mr Williamson is still wedded to his job. Let us hope that is not just the enthusiasm of a 37-year-old who has only been in post for four months.

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