AIBU to ask my sons nursery to stop using Sparklebox resources?

(73 Posts)
pizzaqueen Tue 30-Apr-13 19:58:06

My DS (2.5) attends a lovely private nursery 2 afternoons a week. I'm more than happy with his care and he is really happy there.

Today he brought home a 'home to nursery bag' each one has a different theme and the kids get to pick them to bring home. I was shocked to find some sparklebox resources and worksheets inside the pack.

For those that don't know sparklebox's owner (Kinge) was associated with having indecent images of children and sex offence charges a few years ago and many schools and childcare providers boycott sparklebox resources as a result.

More here:

Would I be being unreasonable to draw the nursery's attention to this and explain I'm not happy about them using these resources? I don't want to come across as a trouble maker but this just sits really uncomfortably with me, I hate to think in a round about way I'm finding child pornography.

pizzaqueen Tue 30-Apr-13 19:58:41

Funding* not finding

MissAnnersley Tue 30-Apr-13 19:59:19

YANBU. I think it should be pointed out to them.

ChasingStaplers Tue 30-Apr-13 20:00:48

I am having the same dilemma. I noticed some pictures on the wall at my DC's nursery from sparklebox and w

malteserzz Tue 30-Apr-13 20:00:53

I would tell them, my local authority don't let schools use sparkle box any more.

ChasingStaplers Tue 30-Apr-13 20:01:10

Oops. Wondered if I should mention it.

Mention it, they may not be aware of the situation

McNewPants2013 Tue 30-Apr-13 20:04:21

Yanbu i would bring this to the owners attention.

KitNCaboodle Tue 30-Apr-13 20:04:53

Some schools still use them but black out the sparkle box logo so that children do not see it and assume its a safe site.
I can understand your concern with funding as even though the resources are free there may be advertising on there.

madamimadam Tue 30-Apr-13 20:10:48

YANBU. I mentioned it to mine after I saw one. Didn't want anyone assuming it was anything other than a front for that awful man.

FannyMcNally Tue 30-Apr-13 20:19:05

We still use some old resources that are lying around but I tend to renew them if I spot them. We have used for some years now since it all blew up. I would mention it and then mention Twinkl as an alternative.

pizzaqueen Tue 30-Apr-13 20:40:31

Thanks everyone. Good to know its not just me who feels that way.

I've sent the nursery a polite email drawing their attention to it. smile

Euphemia Tue 30-Apr-13 20:41:18

I love Twinkl. I've moved local authorities recently; Sparklebox was banned in my previous authority but freely used in my current one. I just can't bring myself to use it, so I use Twinkl instead.

CloudsAndTrees Tue 30-Apr-13 20:44:03

I thought sparklebox had been improved and made safe since the story a while ago?

The nursery that I used to work in did stop using sparklebox resources, but have since begun to use them again.

ReallyTired Tue 30-Apr-13 20:44:47

Prehaps the nursery do not know abou the darker side of sparklebox. I think you are right to draw the nursery's attention to that fact that sparklebox resources are made and marketed by a paedophile.

HarrietSchulenberg Tue 30-Apr-13 20:44:52

They'll know already but will be using up resources. At the end of the day, they're just resources and they were quite handy ones too.

threepiecesuite Tue 30-Apr-13 20:46:25

I used to use Sparklebox in my teaching and wasn't aware of this story.
I will not use them again. Yes, do let nursery (politely) know.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 30-Apr-13 20:47:11

The website may have been made safer but the last I heard Kinge was still making money out of it.

unfortunately my DS school uses sparklebox and no-one seems to mind. I definitely did mind the idea of that man being involved - it just seemed wrong somehow.

Clouds - do you have any more info?

kim147 Tue 30-Apr-13 20:54:41

I work at a lot of schools where these resources are used. Some people just do not know the story.

manicinsomniac Tue 30-Apr-13 20:57:19

meh, I think YABU. SParklebox resources are awesome and save a massive amount of time.

This is the first I've heard of any problems with the site, they've been used for years in my school and nobody's mentioned a word of this.

Regardless, using them or not is not going to harm or protect any children in a teacher's care or elsewhere, they're just great, colourful display resources.

Hulababy Tue 30-Apr-13 20:57:57

Sparklebox is barred from our LEA network, so not accessible at school. However, some teachers still use it where I work. They know my opinion on it and wherever possible I will not use the resources - I'd rather make my own or look elsewhere online. I hate it when I have no choice - sadly, I don't always get that choice (am a TA these days, if not knowing in advance and just presented with materials, etc).

CloudsAndTrees Tue 30-Apr-13 20:57:59

No, I don't, sorry, I wish I did! I'm reading this thread with interest and hoping someone that knows more will come along.

I had been told by my old boss that the site was safe to use so she was going to start using it again, and she had always to rid of the logo anyway. But it hadn't occurred to me that the guy might still be making money from the site.

NotTreadingGrapes Tue 30-Apr-13 20:58:47

That's hardly the point manic is it? hmm

Regardless, using them or not is not going to harm or protect any children in a teacher's care or elsewhere

I think the children being exploited in the child pornography that these resources are funding or have funded in the past would beg to differ.

There should be a 100% boycott of these products, no exception. It's disgusting.

kim147 Tue 30-Apr-13 21:01:42

People do realise the owner asked for photos of children using the resources.

pizzaqueen Tue 30-Apr-13 21:03:00

This man makes money every time someone clicks through the site through advertising. Those who use it are inadvertently funding a convicted peadophile. I think that is wrong and I'm hoping my DS's nursery is naive to the background story of sparklebox and will stop using the resources.

CloudsAndTrees Tue 30-Apr-13 21:04:40

Wasn't there something about the site putting cookies onto its users computers so that he could access photos that way?

I have no technical knowledge at all to know if this is even possible, and have no idea if this is true, just something I heard.

HollyBerryBush Tue 30-Apr-13 21:06:15

Companies House says Sparklebox is a dormant company

manicinsomniac Tue 30-Apr-13 21:08:15

Hearts the resources are free!

manicinsomniac Tue 30-Apr-13 21:12:01

Plus, I just checked the site (haven't been there for ages, have the resources I like from there laminated and recycled throughout the years) and it seems to have grown massively - international links etc. I seriously doubt it would be allowed to stand if it was really funding child pornography.

McNewPants2013 Tue 30-Apr-13 21:13:17

Manic, what has the cost got to do with anything.

this man is a convicted peodophile and is making money by supplying materials to teachers who teach children.

CloudsAndTrees Tue 30-Apr-13 21:13:59

The resources are free but the site can still generate profit through advertising on it.

Although if they are a dormant company now I'd have no idea how that would work!

Euphemia Tue 30-Apr-13 21:14:03

But the resources are free. confused

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 30-Apr-13 21:16:31

Not just a convicted pardon hole, twice convicted.

Picturesinthefirelight Tue 30-Apr-13 21:16:59

Pred text doesn't like paedophile

Finola1step Tue 30-Apr-13 21:20:38

In the local authority in which I work, access to Sparklebox has been banned for some time. This is due to the founder's criminal history (he changed his name after previous convictions) and the fact that he set up a chat section on Sparklebox. It was strongly believed by the police, CPS and social services that this was an elaborate scheme to groom children over the Internet by making his website seem so natural and ordinary within the classroom through the logo etc that children would instantly trust him. So that's the background.

Most schools that I know of took the approach that no new Sparklebox resources should be made and used. Any existing resources should have every part of the Sparklebox logo covered. And such resources were expected to be gradually replaced. Hence the popularity of Twinkl and good old Primary Resources.

So back to your original question. YADNBU to be concerned and definitely tell them. They probably don't know the full story.

And for anyone still using the resources with the logo visible, it takes two minutes to cover the logo. Please cover it. Oh and there are a few eagle eyed Ofsted Inspectors who take Safeguarding very seriously.

pizzaqueen Tue 30-Apr-13 21:21:52

Yes the resources are free but the site will still generate income in other ways (advertising) and therefore funds this man. I'd rather fund another site that isn't run by a criminal.

Finola1step Tue 30-Apr-13 21:25:58

And just to clarify, he apparently has no links with the website now. But I would argue that any professional working with children would steer very clear because of the history and breach of trust.

Let me put it this way, if I walked into a classroom with that logo on display, I would have serious concerns about the Safeguarding procedures in place.

jamdonut Tue 30-Apr-13 21:30:03

We use Teacher's Pet and Twinkl as very good alternatives at school. The trouble is, the resources on Sparklebox are very,very useful. So some teachers access them from home,because they know what is on there from when they were allowed to use it, but there is a block on the site through the council network.

As I understand it, it is run by members of his family now.

raisah Tue 30-Apr-13 21:30:24

My LEA doesnt use sparklebox but my cm does so I will have to inform her tomorrow. CBeebies has a parental resource site which is meant to be very good alternative to sparklebox.

Feenie Tue 30-Apr-13 21:30:28

And just to clarify, he apparently has no links with the website now.

Yes, he does - he is still the registered owner, out of prison after his second conviction and able to profit from the advertising revenue.

Feenie Tue 30-Apr-13 21:31:09

As I understand it, it is run by members of his family now.

Only while he was in prison.

jamdonut Tue 30-Apr-13 21:35:03

OK I stand corrected.

Finola1step Tue 30-Apr-13 21:37:21

Thank you Feenie, I wasn't aware that he was back involved.

So OP, even more reason to talk to nursery.

FannyMcNally Tue 30-Apr-13 21:37:58

So manic, Sparklebox creating 'great colourful display resources' and generating income for a paedophile is preferable to Twinkl also creating 'great colourful display resources' and no known links to paedophiles. Your meh comment is a bit silly after being told that LAs banned it's use in schools years ago. They didn't just do it on a whim.

MiaowTheCat Tue 30-Apr-13 21:43:32

School I was at at the time it all kicked off and hit the news took the line that they'd let existing resources wear out (logo covered up) but no more new stuff was to be produced using the site.

We have a local day nursery who use their front outside fence as extra display boarding to show paintings etc off to the local community - and it's usually incredibly heavily Sparklebombed... and I cringe every time I walk past it at the message it's sending out since it's all new, freshly-downloaded stuff (the nursery's only been open a few months).

I always preferred to design my own stuff anyway - but chugging along on the PC making resources was one of the things I enjoyed most about teaching... aaah give me a pile of worksheets and classroom signs to design, some laminated stuff to cut out with nice sharp scissors and a pile of nice messy glue pots to pick the dried-on PVA off and I'd be in heaven!

Feenie Tue 30-Apr-13 21:46:49

As you can see, he never stepped down as director, and is now free to run the company, which is still very lucrative due to either teachers who are ignorant or idiots who say meh

McNewPants2013 Tue 30-Apr-13 21:48:26

Miaow i would be very tempted to send the nursery a letter or email with the information of the sites owner.

nannyof3 Tue 30-Apr-13 21:48:54

I told the childrens skool about this as they use this alot... They ignored me and still use it!!!! Grrrrr

Feenie Tue 30-Apr-13 21:50:02

Unbelievable comment referred to by a teacher halfway down the page. shock

manicinsomniac Tue 30-Apr-13 22:10:12

fanny I've never heard of twinkl but will check it out (sounds like a site for young children? I use KS2 stuff from sparklebox)

And it's only a parenting site that's told me that LAs have 'banned this stuff for years'. I've been teaching for years in more than one area and have never heard a whisper of a problem. Hence the doubt and the meh.

I'm curious now so will ask around but I don't think I know a teacher who doesn't use it.

Euphemia Tue 30-Apr-13 22:12:43

Twinkl covers KS2 as well.

kim147 Tue 30-Apr-13 22:13:53

LOL at Sparklebombed.

Some classrooms are. Everywhere is Sparklebox.

teacherandguideleader Tue 30-Apr-13 22:14:16

Definitely mention it. I remember when the whole sparkle box thing kicked off - I had a lot of stuff from them. I still use the ideas, but not the actual resources.

Some of the more recently qualified staff knew nothing about it - they were uni students at the time (not education students though). Some were using the resources as they had no idea of the history.

It may just be a simple mistake - I know I don't check the history of every website I ever use.

ClayDavis Tue 30-Apr-13 22:16:55
manicinsomniac Tue 30-Apr-13 22:22:31

Thanksclay I'll look into it

Feenie Tue 30-Apr-13 22:25:51

Yes - please read some links and educate yourself. Manicinsomniac. I'm assuming you don't know how to google yourself, then? hmm

FannyMcNally Tue 30-Apr-13 22:27:05

If you want an example you can read the email sent to all HTs in Hertfordshire from the LA in 2010. scroll down a few paragraphs

ClayDavis Tue 30-Apr-13 22:35:18

I do find it quite surprising that there seem to be so many teachers who don't know about Kinge and Sparklebox. His second conviction was a national news story. I think Panorama also did a documentary on it.

Tanith Tue 30-Apr-13 22:50:42

Doing a search for Sparklebox on Mumsnet will bring up all you need to know about the site and its nasty, grubby owner.

Personally, I wouldn't hesitate to tell the nursery. In fact, I've told my own DD's nursery.

The more Sparklebox on their walls, the less room there is for the children's own work. In some classrooms, Sparklebox leers out from every available vertical surface! It says an awful lot about the teacher who put it there, in my opinion hmm

Sparkeleigh Tue 30-Apr-13 23:47:44

CloudsandTrees regarding getting photos off a users PC using cookies, it's not possible for cookies to be used like that. Here's some info if you're interested

My nickname seems horribly inappropriate on this thread, sorry about that!

CloudsAndTrees Tue 30-Apr-13 23:55:37

Thank you, that's good to know Sparkleigh. smile

I don't think there's anything wrong with using these types of resources though. In many settings they are used a lot but it's to display the days of the week, or to label train set box for example. I'm thinking more of foundation stage stuff, but there is space for these types of resources as well as the children's own work.

ClayDavis Wed 01-May-13 00:24:26

It wasn't cookies that were the problem. The site used to have a toolbar that you downloaded to your PC and it let you know when new resources had been added. The reason most LAs blocked the site at the time was that it was thought the toolbar may have had malware attached that would allow access to images from the user's PC or network.

As far as I know, the police investigated this and it turned out to be the case and the toolbar was harmless.

pizzaqueen Wed 01-May-13 12:32:21

Got a reply from the nursery this morning. The manager wasn't aware of the background story of sparkle box and neither were the staff she spoke to. She's going to remove all sparkle box resources from the nursery and ensure they are not used in future.

I'm really happy with the response and that they are removing sparkle box materials. I believe it really was just that they weren't aware of the background.

Thanks for your opinions everyone. If your DC school/nursery is using sparkle box I'd encourage you to raise it with them, chances are they aren't aware and will stop using those materials.

pizzaqueen Wed 01-May-13 12:34:02

Got a reply from the nursery this morning. The manager wasn't aware of the background story of sparkle box and neither were the staff she spoke to. She's going to remove all sparkle box resources from the nursery and ensure they are not used in future.

I'm really happy with the response and that they are removing sparkle box materials. I believe it really was just that they weren't aware of the background.

Thanks for your opinions everyone. If your DC school/nursery is using sparkle box I'd encourage you to raise it with them, chances are they aren't aware and will stop using those materials.

Finola1step Wed 01-May-13 15:33:28

Well done queen

ChasingStaplers Wed 01-May-13 16:46:21

Well done pizzaqueen smile

You prompted me to do the same and I've had much the same response. The manager thought that only by downloading the toolbar would he get any revenue - they didn't think about adverts etc. am glad I did mention it now.

Thanks to the person who recommended twinkl - I've passed that on too.

thebody Wed 01-May-13 16:51:36

Gosh never heard of this and our school uses the resources and know others that do too.

Thanks for the info and will raise this at school tomorrow.

fromparistoberlin Thu 02-May-13 08:27:04

I am sorry, but if he has been arrested, and the stuff is good and free.....


Feenie Thu 02-May-13 15:48:35

He has indeed served his time, but he committed child pornography offences twice - once as an award winning Reception teacher and once as the owner if Sparklebox. I am not happy to fund his lifestyle, and have no confidence that will not reoffend.

'Good and free' ? Have you heard yourself?!

Finola1step Fri 03-May-13 13:16:41

Fromparis. Do you actually know what he was intending to do with his website as a way if using it to get direct access to children through chat rooms? I suggest you do a bit more research.

Feenie Fri 03-May-13 17:49:08

And just who are you apologising to, anyway, fromparistoberlin - the victims in the child pornography he was convicted of repeatedly downloading?

What is the matter with people? confused

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