The Scottish Government is facing calls for an “urgent review” into their own education department after being forced to pull the plug on a school social networking app following concerns over inappropriate content.
Education Scotland locked down Yammer profiles on Friday after The Courier revealed how bosses had signed off on the service despite knowing it was vulnerable to inappropriate content and individuals looking to find children to “do them harm”.
Ministers have now been told they must urgently investigate why the app was made available to schoolchildren without greater checks and balances, and learn any lessons to better protect youngsters going forward.
Education Secretary John Swinney has repeatedly been asked to explain what action the Scottish Government will now take to keep children safe.
It has further emerged that parents previously attempted to raise concerns to Education Scotland, the office of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and local digital learning teams but received no response until The Courier raised the issue.
The service will reportedly not be reinstated until the conclusion of a review into how the content, including graphic bloody images and messages from individuals with paedophile in their username, came to make its way on to the app.
No time frame for when it will be accessible again has been given by Education Scotland but a temporary suspension over the weekend has since been extended into this week.
Scottish Labour’s education spokesman Iain Gray said: “SNP Education Secretary John Swinney must get to grips with this immediately and order an urgent review to find out what has gone on inside his own department.
“The SNP government must quickly establish why apparent risks were ignored, what harm has been done to our children and what can be done to make the app safe going forward.
“Many parents worry for their children’s safety online but they should have confidence they are safe when doing schoolwork.
“Swift action must be taken by John Swinney to sort this mess out.”
Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr called for a proper investigation into how the social networking tool came to be included in Glow, Education Scotland’s national “digital learning platform”.
“Any online service which is modelled around children and schools must be absolutely airtight,” he said.
“I’d expect the SNP government to urgently review why this was included in Glow.
“Lessons must be learned to keep this potentially dangerous situation from arising again.”
Andy Burrows, an online child safety expert with the NSPCC, said it was “really concerning” that Education Scotland appeared to have failed to deliver an app “with child safeguarding principals front and centre”.