Edinburgh schools You Tube ban: access for senior pupils to be restored in next 10 days

Pupils spell out to councillors how vital platform is for studies

A YouTube ban in Edinburgh schools is to be lifted within 10 days for senior pupils after a deputation of students from James Gillespie's High School told councillors how vital the video-sharing platform is for their learning.

The temporary ban was imposed by education chiefs just before the half-term break after some pupils accessed “concerning material”.

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But the move provoked an outcry from pupils who rely on YouTube for their studies. And a four-strong deputation from James Gillespie's High School "Pupil Voice" told a meeting of the full council that the ban was

Pupil Scarlett Oswald said YouTube was “a vastly used resource in class and private study” and she used it in all her subjects. “It creates great visual educational content which is immensely helpful to students and teachers. If you don’t understand something in class there are hundreds of videos to help. I have had several teachers create their own YouTube accounts to which they post their videos on their subjects to help students understand a specific topic. It’s one of the greatest revision tools we have in school. By banning YouTube you have deprived students and teachers of a crucial learning resource.

Tory councillor Christopher Cowdy said he had been contacted by pupils, parents and teachers angry about the withdrawal of YouTube access without any notice or explanation. He said the feeling was that the council had "underestimated the importance of YouTube and overestimated the nature of the risk”.

Lib Dem Louise Young said it had originally been expected that access would have been restored by the time schools returned from half-term this week, but although teachers now had restricted access pupils were still without. She said if the issue had not been resolved by the end of next week, senior pupils – in S4, S5 and S6 – should have access restored on the same basis as teachers.

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Cllr Cowdy had originally wanted simply to overturn the ban, but accepted Cllr Young’s amendment setting a deadline of Monday November 7 for the restoration of restricted access to senior pupils while instructing a report to te next education committee on November 17 on how access could be returned for all other pupils.

Pupils from James Gillespie's High School explained to councillors how vital YouTube is for their studies.Pupils from James Gillespie's High School explained to councillors how vital YouTube is for their studies.
Pupils from James Gillespie's High School explained to councillors how vital YouTube is for their studies.

Education convener Joan Griffiths said the council's action was not a ban but a temporary withdrawal of access to ensure inappropriate material could not be accessed on council-supplied devices.

She said she understood the frustration of pupils. But she said: "My role is about safeguarding the young people in our city and that is what we did."

She said solutions were being tested and it was hoped access could be restored next week.

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