Sparklebox Scandal?

If you were to ask Irish teachers what web site their classroom couldn’t survive without, it’s likely you would be given the answer, “Sparklebox”.  Although Sparklebox is a UK web site, it is used by hundreds of teachers everyday to download and print posters, signs and classroom resources.  Sparklebox was a pay-per-download site up until a couple of years ago when mysteriously, it became completely free.  To make things even more convenient, Sparklebox released a toolbar for your web browser to make getting resources even easier.

Mike McSharry from Systems and Education revealed on his blog yesterday that a major security issue with Sparklebox.  According to Kent County Council,

“It is understood that a person who is on the record as an owner and director of Sparklebox Teacher Resources Limited (which appears to claim ownership of the SparkleBox web site and children’s learning materials) is a registered sex offender who has recently admitted a second offence, is on remand in prison and is awaiting sentence in January.”

This is obviously quite worrying if you have downloaded and installed the Sparklebox toolbar. The thing about toolbars is that they could be collecting browsing history or they may be used to initiate an internal attack on school systems immediately, or at some unknown future time.  If Sparklebox’s toolbar is operating illegally, this could be the case. Several UK Local Education Authorities are now blocking access to Sparklebox altogether due to this latest development.  McSharry has posted an article to help teachers remove the Sparklebox toolbar from their web browser as it is not an easy process.

There is no news on the Sparklebox web site itself but their blog seems to have been removed and their Twitter feed hasn’t been updated since November.  As we get further news, I’ll share it on  I hope this news isn’t true and Sparklebox is such a great resource.  Many thanks to Mike for alerting us to this story that is bound to hit the press in the UK at least.  In the meantime, I’d highly recommend Seomra Ranga as a brilliant (and Irish) alternative to Sparklebox.

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