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Two schools in Rochdale using controversial classroom app

Date published: 16 May 2018


A popular ‘competitive’ classroom app has fallen under scrutiny after privacy concerns have been raised – but how many schools in Rochdale use it?

ClassDojo is a points-based reward system. Points can be awarded for working hard and deducted for undesirable behaviour, with an option for teachers to upload photographs and videos.

According to its makers, the app is used by 70% of schools in the UK. However, it has come under fire after The Times and The Guardian reported how children's personal data is stored in the US – and may be shared with 22 third-party service providers.

Earlier this month, Rochdale Online contacted all the schools in the borough to see which used the app, and if so, which had asked parents for permission of their children's personal details to be uploaded to the servers of a private company in America.

Two responded to say they did use the app: Belfield Community School and St Edwards CE.

A spokesperson for St Edwards CE said: “St Edwards CE does use this app as a behaviour reward system.  Currently we don’t ask permission from parents, but it will included on our new consent forms.”

Of the 14 classes at Belfield Community School, two use the app: classes three and five.

A representative for the school said: “It is used to record house points and contains the first name only and no other details.”

25 schools confirmed they did not use the app at all: Alkrington Primary School, Ashfield Valley Primary School, Caldershaw, Cardinal Langley, Castleton Primary School, Heybrook Primary School & Nursery, Holy Family RC and CE College, Howard Street Nursery School, Kingsway, Matthew Moss High, Middleton Tech, Oulder Hill, Parkfield, Redwood, Siddal Moor, Spotland Primary, Springside,  St Gabriel’s CE Primary School,  St Mary’s CE Primary School, St Mary’s RC Primary, St Michaels CE Middleton, St Thomas’ Newhey, St Vincents, St. John the Baptist RC Primary School, and Woodland Community Primary School.

The other schools did not respond.

A spokesperson for ClassDojo said: "ClassDojo is a communication platform that connects teachers, students and families to help them improve education in their communities. Privacy is core to helping communities achieve that mission. We’ve worked with some of the world’s leading privacy experts to create policies and practices that reflect our belief in doing what’s right for our community.

"ClassDojo does not share any student information with Facebook or Google. We also don’t share any student information with DataDog, which is a service we use to assess the technical performance of our IT systems. We’re in the middle of going even further to detail exactly what information is shared with each third party.

"No part of our mission requires sensitive information about students, so we don’t collect any. We collect only the minimal amount of information about students needed to provide the service: often just a name. We don’t need or ask for anything else, such as gender, social security number, email, address, or student ID.

"We operate a ‘12-month deletion policy’: if students and parents are no longer using ClassDojo, we automatically delete students’ information after 12 months.

"We do not sell or rent any information to any third parties, per our Privacy Policy. Our business model is based on developing additional paid features - like extra lesson content - for schools and for parents.

"ClassDojo is fully compliant with all current UK privacy laws, and with GDPR when it goes into effect on May 25th, 2018. Like any company, we work with select third-party service providers to help provide our service - for example, we work with a service to help us send emails to our community, instead of building such a service ourselves.

"We work with independent security researchers to continually test ClassDojo’s security practices, and those of any third-party partners, including extensive independent audits by world-class cyber-security firms like the NCC Group to put our systems and protocols under extreme, unbiased scrutiny.

"ClassDojo connects teachers, students and families to help them improve education in their communities, all around the world. We don’t take our community’s trust lightly: we believe privacy is a fundamental right, and we work hard every day to protect theirs."

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UPDATE 

12/06/18

St John Fisher RC Primary confirmed that they no longer use the app, but parents' permission was not sought due to minimal personal information provided. 

07/06/18

Moorhouse Primary School confirmed they use the app and parents' permission was sought to upload photographs.

04/06/18

Broadfield confirmed they also use the app, but "parents' permission was not sought as minimal personal information is provided."​

29/05/18

Shawclough Community Primary School confirmed four KS2 classes use the appParents' permission was not sought as minimal personal information is provided – however under the new GDPR rules, this is now included under the new consent forms.

Boarshaw confirmed they also use the app, but "parents' permission was not sought as minimal personal information is provided."

25/05/18

St Thomas More R.C. Primary School, Hamer Primary School, St Joseph's R.C., Sacred Heart R.C., and St Gabriels R.C. confirmed they also use the app, but "parents' permission was not sought as minimal personal information is provided."

All Saints Rochdale confirmed they do not use the app.


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