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Head makes U-turn on pupil naming ban

A school’s ban on giving the full names of children pictured in the local papers has been overturned after intervention from the editor of the Bracknell News.

Paul Ryan sent a letter to the school concerned – together with Trinity Mirror’s policy and guidelines to editors on the use of pictures of children – and the head revoked his ban.

The fact it was the policy of a major newspaper group to name schoolchildren lent weight to the newspaper’s argument in the face of increasing concerns in schools over the naming of children.

Trinity Mirror Southern editorial director Marc Reeves, who drew up the document with Berkshire Regional Newspapers editor-in-chief Anthony Longden, said school rules were fed mostly by “a lack of awareness of the real issues”.

He said: “Increasing numbers of our titles were being approached by schools, or coming up against knee-jerk bans.

“One paper was even told it could only take pictures of children if they held pieces of paper over their faces to obscure their identities.

“We drew up the guidelines to state the case for keeping full names in papers, and to reassure teachers and parents that our papers act with the utmost sensitivity in this area.

“The guidelines have persuaded many schools to think again, but none so satisfyingly as in Bracknell.”

Bracknell News editor Paul Ryan said: “The Licensed Victuallers’ school press officer phoned and said our letter and policy document was like ‘gold dust’ to him. He went straight to the head who said if that is the policy of a major newspaper group then let’s go with it. It’s a remarkably enlightened response.

“They do still send a letter to parents asking them to say if they do not wish for their children to be in pictures. If they are in pictures they will be fully named.”

This latest development comes after education secretary Charles Clarke claimed there was no Government guideline banning identification of children pictured in the press – and that it was over-zealous education authorities that may have misinterpreted official guidance.

He told the Newspaper Society: “My department has not issued advice about the press photographing school pupils.”

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