Spying on teacher: CCTV in classrooms 'on the rise'


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The Independent Online

CCTV cameras are increasingly being used in schools to “spy” on staff as they take lessons, a teachers’ conference is to be told today.

A survey of 7,500 teachers by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) revealed that nearly one in 10 now have CCTV cameras in their classrooms.

Many were told originally they were being introduced to enhance pupil and teacher safety and act as a deterrent to bad behaviour.

Now, though, there are an increasing number of reports that headteachers are using them to assess teaching standards and support attempts to get rid of those who they think are not up to the job.

Of those who reported having CCTV cameras in their classrooms, 89 per cent said they could not switch them off and 88 per cent said the cameras were constantly recording their lessons.

More than half (55 per cent) said headteachers were viewing the footage and 41 per cent said it was being used to form negative views of staff.

“I have seen senior staff with my head of department looking at footage in the school office,” said one respondent. “When I asked what my head of department was doing watching a colleague in this way she said she was trying to catch him out.”

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “Lab rats have more professional privacy.

“In some cases, teachers have reported having their private conversations filmed when the school was not in session. The stories teachers recounted to us in the survey are a shocking catalogue of professional disrespect and unacceptable intrusion.”

Examples of CCTV use given to researchers included one teacher who said: “In my school, it has been used specifically with newly qualified teachers who the senior leadership team think are not performing well.”

Today, the union’s annual conference will debate a motion declaring that constant monitoring in the classroom is “excessive” and “continues to expand beyond any reasonable justification”.

Only 2 per cent of those surveyed said its use supported teaching and learning in the school.

Ms Keates warned: “The NASUWT will support members in resisting such practices in schools where abuse is taking place by all reasonable means, including industrial action.”

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “It is incredibly powerful for a teacher to watch a recording of a lesson – and see children and behaviour they didn’t notice. What we need to be clear on is that consent has been gained for the recording.”