THE Executive Headteacher at Chulmleigh Academy Trust has written to all of the parents at Chulmleigh Community College concerning issues regarding pupils and social media use.

Michael Johnson entitles his letter: “Social Media and Your Child”.

He states that he will shortly be writing to all parents with details of a social media home-school agreement.

He writes: “We have been struck by the rising number of problems generated between pupils, outside of school, on their mobile phones and computers, and we will write more to you about this shortly. 

“Chulmleigh College is a great school with a strong reputation for good behaviour, and I call this issue to your attention in order to bring this problem out of a dark shadow and into the light.

“This is not a Chulmleigh problem; it’s a national problem which is also affecting Chulmleigh.

“As a history teacher, I feel almost certain that when people look back at the time we are now living in, they will find it hard to believe that more wasn’t done on a national level to protect children from the dark side of the internet and social media. Not enough is being done to allow them to be children.

“Last week, we were shocked by the number of pupils who got themselves involved in a racially motivated joke.

“I have spoken to the parents of these pupils. Those parents are good people and were all very shocked too.


“Many young people are regularly exposed to racism via their mobile phones, along with homophobia, pornography, casual cruelty and casual violence, and I have no doubt that social media use has contributed to this incident.

“Some of the on-line discussions between pupils which are brought to our attention are dreadful. They can be distressing to read because they can put huge pressure on vulnerable young people by creating victims. That said, we will never waver about doing exactly what is necessary to protect young people from being bullied outside and inside school.

“As you know, we do not allow pupils to use mobile phones in school and we do recognise how difficult it can be for you to regulate phone use. We do point out though, that if you are paying for a mobile phone or bill, it is entirely within your power to limit and monitor your child’s use, and we think you should, particularly if there is any possibility that they are exposed to danger or are misusing their phones. We have had more than one recent case where a child in the school has been groomed.

“The dangers around unrestricted internet access and social media use are increasing. Eating disorders and incidents of self-harm among girls aged between 13 and 16 have increased by around 40 per cent since Covid-19, and boys of the same age are being harmfully influenced by high profile homophobic and misogynistic social media users such as Andrew Tate.

“In 2022 the average age at which a child first saw pornography was just 13 years-old, and, surprisingly, the place they were most likely to see it was on Twitter.

“These issues have become worse since Covid-19, but they were not caused by Covid-19 and they will not go away. Unrestricted access to the internet and social media is one of the greatest problems our children currently face.

“We will send you a home-school agreement in due course and will invite you to an evening on September 14, 2023 where we will invite external agencies to advise you about this.


“This is a national problem which is, in my opinion, being swept under the rug. It is completely obvious to me that the profits of internet providers, social media platforms and mobile phone companies are being put before the psychological health and safety of children. I cannot do much about that beyond pointing it out to you.

“I have raised this with our local MP and the Department for Education, and I would ask you to do so as well. As parents you have a right to ask your MP what the plan will be and how it will stop this situation, and I urge you to do so.

“The school has a Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) programme which covers racism, and we will be running more assemblies this week on racism and will echo the messages we have given this year about homophobia and bullying. Your child has a comprehensive PSHE programme in the school and we will continue to support them as well as we can.

“I attach a short but helpful publication (‘Be Cyber Smart’) which contains some useful tips on how you can keep your child safe online, which I would ask you to read, and we are always happy to speak to parents who have any questions or concerns about such issues.

“Please do use this letter as an opportunity to sit down with your child and speak to them about what they are looking at, and please do what you can to monitor their use of computers and phones.

“I know how difficult being a parent is and write this letter hoping that this message is helpful to you. Thank you for reading it.” 


Parent Gemma Cummings, has responded to Mr Johnson’s letter and says: “Thank you for raising this important issue which as you say is massively affecting children on a national level and will continue to do so unless government and internet providers do more. It really is a national crisis.

“I recognise how hugely difficult this is for teachers to address when so much is out of your hands but you have to deal with the fall out much of the time.

“I appreciate the schools no phone policy and this is one of the reasons we chose Chulmleigh.”