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Racist and homophobic abuse against teching staff in some TikTok videos is entirely unacceptable

Jeremy Miles MS, Minister for Education and the Welsh Language

I am appalled and deeply troubled by the recent trend of targeting teachers and school staff on social media. It is completely unacceptable that teachers are being subjected to explicit, offensive and harmful content online and any such abuse should not be tolerated. Protecting the well-being of staff is of paramount importance and this is even more crucial given the challenging times we are living in.

Where such deplorable abuse is directed towards teachers and schools on social media I recognise that not only does this have a distressing impact on individuals, it can also have significant adverse implications for the education community. That is why, as a matter of priority, I instructed my officials to contact TikTok directly to express my concerns around the considerable distress this is causing teachers and request that any instances of inappropriate or offensive content be removed immediately.

Executives at TikTok have confirmed that they are committed to resolving this matter urgently. I understand that a dedicated trust and safety team has been established and are working at pace to remove and/or ban accounts that have been identified as impersonating schools or posting bullying and harassing content directed towards teachers. TikTok has also confirmed that content moderators are working proactively to identify and remove any new instances of abusive content posted on the platform. My officials will continue to work with TikTok, and keep me updated on this matter.

This trend has been seen right across the UK and it is essential we take a co-ordinated, collaborative and robust approach. As such, we are working closely with the UK Council for Internet Safety, whose members include leading online safety charities, UK Government and devolved nations. My officials will also continue to work with Trade Unions to provide support to them and their members.

Crucially, the UK Safer Internet Centre, have agreed an escalation process with TikTok, to ensure the removal of abusive content reported through the Professionals Online Safety Helpline.

I urge all teachers or school staff who have experienced any instances of online abuse to report these directly to the Professionals Online Safety Helpline.

We have published updated guidance on harmful viral challenges for schools which now includes information related to offensive content directed towards school staff and how to report incidents.

One of the key principles outlined in the guidance is to exercise care and caution to avoid inadvertently promoting, and thereby further encouraging, any harmful viral trend. There is well-documented research that highlights instances where well-meaning coverage from organisations has unintentionally driven up interest in viral trends. As such, I would urge a responsible and careful conversation on this issue and would encourage schools to refer to this guidance.

All schools have a duty of care towards staff members and as such should ensure that any staff experiencing abuse online are supported appropriately. Trade Unions are also an excellent source of support and I would encourage schools to deal with any instances of inappropriate behaviour in accordance with their behaviour policy.

Addressing this behaviour through education is vital to ensure that children and young people understand the importance of being respectful and considerate both online and offline. Last week, during anti-bullying week, the Welsh Government and the Office of the Children’s Commissioner promoted a range of classroom resources available on the Keeping safe online area of Hwb to support conversations around respectful behaviour online. My officials will continue to provide a range of resources, information and guidance that can be used to promote considerate behaviour online and equip young people with skills to use social media responsibly.

While education plays a key role in tackling this behaviour, I am of the firm belief that social media platforms must recognise their responsibility and duty of care to their users and play their part in stamping out online abuse. I welcome the enhanced protections that the forthcoming Online Safety Bill promises to provide and look forward to working with Ofcom to ensure a consistent approach to ultimately provide a safer online experience for all.

I would like to end by reaffirming that no teacher should be subjected to abuse on social media and I would encourage anyone who has been affected to draw upon the support available from your school, Trade Union and the Professionals Online Safety Helpline. Finally, I wish to extend sincere thanks to all those teachers for their continued hard work and dedication to the profession.

Jeremy Miles MS, Minister for Education and the Welsh Language

Online abuse of teaching professionals on social media

11th No 2021: Commenting on reports of posts on @TikTok that are abusive to teachers,

Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“TikTok and other social media companies must step up and take far greater responsibility for the content hosted on their platforms.

“The racist and homophobic abuse against school staff in some TikTok videos is entirely unacceptable, yet there appears a worrying lack of urgency and priority given to removing inappropriate and distressing posts.

“If they are unwilling to adequately police content themselves, then we would encourage government to take steps to intervene on behalf of the victims of abusive content.

“No company should be allowed to profit from the misery of others.”

Paul Whiteman 100x100Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary, added:

“Tik-Tok is unfortunately just the tip of the iceberg; social media platforms have been used to smear individual teachers and schools for many years.

“This causes huge distress and upset and can lead those affected to consider leaving the profession.

“Social media companies and the government need to get a grip on this as the damage to individuals can be huge.”

Geoff Barton 100x100Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“Over the past couple of weeks, school staff have suffered disgraceful abuse through messages and imagery posted on the social media platform TikTok. We do not know how widespread this is but we have received over 50 reports, and we suspect there are many more.

“These posts are often defamatory and offensive, and some are homophobic. Schools tell us that they have asked TikTok to remove them but TikTok has often failed to act despite these posts clearly breaching the platform’s community guidelines.

“This material is extremely distressing for the staff who are targeted, and the young people who are posting it are involved in behaviour which could lead to them being excluded from school and, in extreme cases, being the subject of a police investigation.

“We have written to TikTok to ask it to proactively prevent this material being posted, to respond immediately to requests to remove such posts, and to request a meeting about this issue. We have also spoken to the governments in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“TikTok has replied to us to say it is investigating the issue and that it is using a combination of technologies and moderation teams to identify and remove content or accounts that violate its community guidelines. It says it has acted against a large number of accounts already. It has also offered to meet with us to discuss its response in more detail.

“We welcome this action and hope this matter can be resolved swiftly.

“However, this in our view reinforces the urgent need for regulation of social media platforms. Schools have had to spend valuable time endeavouring to have this content removed, and dealing with the fallout, when they are also having to cope with coronavirus-related disruption and help children catch up with lost learning.

“Social media platforms should be legally responsible for ensuring they have processes in place which prevent offensive and abusive material from being posted in the first place.”

The TikTok trends influencing school dinners – Sodexo reveals how the social media platform is providing inspiration and innovation for its school lunch offering

1st Sept 2021: Sodexo and AiP have revealed today that its culinary development team is taking inspiration from TikTok and Instagram to update its school food offering. The food services and facilities management business which feeds pupils in over 500 schools in the UK, has been inspired by social media trends such as the rise of ‘fakeaways’ – making healthier versions of takeaway-style food at home – and incorporated these into its food menu strategy. School children can, as a result, now expect to see healthy dupes of dishes such as chicken katsu curry and cauliflower korma, which don’t compromise on flavour, showing up in the school dining hall.   

While other social media-inspired dishes such as Mediterranean nachos – complete with feta, olives, crudites and sweet potato hummus – are already on offer to schoolchildren, the Sodexo team is exploring current trending foodie items such as Baked Feta, Mochi and Foldable TikTok Tortilla Wraps to integrate them into future menus.

 James Mundy, Food & Retail Transformation Director for Schools & Universities at Sodexo, comments:

“TikTok is currently shaping comedy, fashion and popular culture, so why not school meals? The food served in UK schools has come a long way in recent years. Health, convenience, and social media have all played a significant role in influencing the types of foods young people want to try and their relationship with food. Our catering teams work in partnership with schools and pupils on an ongoing basis to understand what they want and to collaboratively develop menus that spark a genuine foodie interest in young minds.”

In addition to TikTok trends and Instagram foodie influencers, the Sodexo schools catering team also regularly looks to the high street to help shape, not just the meals it prepares, but the manner in which they are provided. The widespread shift towards digital menu screens in ‘grab and go’ restaurants and the rise of online food delivery apps demonstrates the importance of convenience and speed of service. As such, Sodexo has taken on board the fact that pupils want healthy food that can be consumed quickly, on the go, to maximise their free time.

On the subject of plant-based foods, Mundy continued:

“This is the first generation to have been raised to fully understand the impact of climate change through education and social media. As such, we have seen a marked increase in pupils being more conscious about their food choices and wanting to be ethical and sustainable, resulting in more pupils embracing our plant-based options. Young people are fundamental for the transformation towards healthy and sustainable food systems, so this is fantastic to see.”

Tom Laskey, Marketing Director for Schools & Universities at Sodexo, concludes:

“Our objective when incorporating these trends into our menus is to increase take-up of school meals, especially for those on free school meals. We know when pupils find the food served inspiring, they are more likely to choose a hot, nutritious school meal. If we can get more pupils eating school food, we should see improved health and learning outcomes that help each child to achieve their potential, supporting the closing of the inequalities gap and a more sustainable food system.”

Barton Peveril Teacher Amasses Millions of Views on TikTok  

24th Nov 2021: Barton Peveril Sixth Form College’s Subject Leader for Media Studies, Trish Kiloh, has amassed over 2.6 million likes and millions of monthly views on video-sharing social media platform TikTok.

The Barton Peveril Subject Leader set up her TikTok account during the first Covid-19 pandemic lockdown as a way of getting in touch with the apps her students are using.

Kiloh has since uploaded over 750 videos, which get millions of views each month; in the past 28 days, Kiloh’s videos have been watched over 2 million times by individuals around the world.

Kiloh’s content focuses on her work as a Media Studies teacher and incorporates trending topics in a way that makes them relatable to both fellow teachers and their students.

Trish Kiloh also uses her content and the knowledge she has gained from using the platform to influence her teaching. The platform has been used to task students with producing short video content and trailers and to have them think beyond the curriculum to engage with current trends and advances in technology.

Kiloh also uses the platform to show students how simple it is for them to produce engaging and aesthetically pleasing videos in a short amount of time to reach large audiences.

Speaking on her success on the platform, the Barton Peveril Subject Leader for Media Studies said: 

“I can hand on heart credit TikTok for reinvigorating my passion for media production in a way that has allowed me to connect with students and show them that there is no excuse not to use social media apps in a positive and creative manner. The combination of Tiktok ‘trends’ and education has proven to be successful in engaging learners in an accessible and easily digestible format. 

“I have become part of a fantastic TikTok Teacher Community that spans the globe. We actively work together to connect students with their subjects beyond the classroom, highlighting that even a 15 second video can help them on the path to success.”

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