This article is from the March 29 issue of The Sydney Morning Herald Digital Edition. To subscribe for $4.50 a week, visit

Kim Arlington


THE ban on students accessing social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter at school could be relaxed as the NSW Education Department reviews its internet filtering policy.

Social media sites are at present blocked, but with its internet filtering contract due to expire, the department is surveying schools to ensure the next version of the software meets their needs.

Schools ‘‘ have been asked to complete a survey designed to identify the features they believe are required in the future’’ , a department spokesman said. ‘‘ Part of this process has included the question of student access to sites under the social networking category.’’

The department’s director of public schools, Dianne Marshall , told an education forum this week she believed that social networking would play a major role in education.

Lila Mularczyk, the deputy president of the NSW Secondary Principals Council – which reviews internet filtering categories as part of a schools webfiltering control group – said there had been varied responses towards social networking.

But through ongoing consultation with the Digital Education Revolution program, the council was aware of websites that could be useful for students to access at school and was looking forward to the survey results, she said.

A spokeswoman for the NSW Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations, Rachael Sowden, said parents would welcome supervision of students accessing social networking sites at school.

‘‘ Kids are actually accessing it at school anyway on their mobile phones. It’s better to help support our students rather than put our heads in the sand and hope they don’t access it by blocking it. We’d much rather have policies in place that support its safe usage.’’

Ms Sowden said if access was allowed, it should be with ‘‘ support , guidance and always at the appropriate time’’ .

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