15 Teachers’ unions and wi-fi

The General Secretary of Voice (formerly the Professional Association of Teachers), Philip Parkin, has said, “the proliferation of wireless networks could be having serious implications for the health of some staff and pupils without the cause being recognised.” 89 The union advocates that new wi-fi systems should not be installed in schools, that existing systems should be turned off when not required and that schools should consider whether they really need to use wi-fi. 90

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), has expressed concern at the widespread use of wi-fi in schools, and that Stewart’s precautionary approach has not been taken. The union has called for the government to investigate the biological effects of wi-fi, asserting its belief that the welfare and safety of children and education professionals are paramount. 91 Mark Langhammer, Director of ATL Northern Ireland, has said that, “a safety-first approach ... could allow for parents to withdraw their children from wi-fi areas of the school.” 92 The union calls for parents to be informed if a school has installed wi-fi and for them to have some input into decisions about wi-fi. 93

89 Philip Parkin, briefing to Press Association, 22.4.07 LINK
See also Philip Parkin, interview with ePolitix.com, 8.5.09 LINK
and the following references from the Voice website: LINK
90 Voice website LINK
91 ATL Conference 2009 LINK : Some teachers at the conference called for the use of wi-fi in schools to be suspended immediately until its health risks have been properly assessed. ‘Fears that wi-fi may cause cancer in children’, Education Matters, 9/4/09 LINK
‘Wifi in school should be stopped say teachers’, Daily Telegraph 8.4.09 LINK
92‘Warning signal to schools using wi-fi’, Belfast Telegraph, 30.10.08 LINK
93‘Union calls for schools wi-fi review’, ni4kids, May 2009 LINK