Teachers in UK schools are trialling the use of body cameras in class to record bad pupils’ behaviour, it has been revealed.
At least two schools in England have introduced the equipment for constant recording with the consent of local education authorities.
The cameras, worn on teachers’ clothing, are set to film all the time but only save encrypted footage when the record button is pressed, The Times reported.
Teachers are advised to turn on the cameras during incidents in the classroom to tackle “constant low-level disruption”, but must give notice before doing so.
The Information Commissioner’s Office, which regulates privacy issues, said that schools were free to use cameras as long as they complied with the Data Protection Act, which states that surveillance must be “legitimate, proportionate and necessary”.
Lawyers specialising in data protection said that because of the age of the children teachers would need to demonstrate a greater need than police officers should the use of the cameras be challenged.
The technology is already used by police, parking wardens and some hospital staff as well as crossing-patrol officers.
Tom Ellis, a principle lecturer from the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies at the University of Portsmouth who is involved with the trial, said the cameras could be used to provide evidence for disciplinary action but also as a “self-reflection” tool for students.
The most expensive schools in the world
The most expensive schools in the world
1/10 La Rosey, Switzerland
This prestigious Swiss boarding school is believed to be the most expensive in the world. Le Rosey hosts pupils from seven to 18 and has been co-educational since 1967. The school takes in pupils from more than 60 countries, but allows no more than 10 per cent of its students to come from any one country in order to prevent a single nationality dominating. The school has two campuses – winter is spent in Gstaad, where pupils can make use of the ski slopes after their morning lessons. Come spring, the whole school will uproot to the Chataeau du Rosey in the village of Rolle by Lake Geneva. Le Rosey also boats a 1,000 seat concert hall, equestrian centre and 38-foot yacht. Notable alumni: Shah of Iran, Prince Rainier of Monaco and King Farouk of Egypt. Sir Roger Moore and Elizabeth Taylor also send their children here, along with John Lennon’s son Sean and Winston Churchill’s grandson. Fees: approx. £86,657 pa
2/10 Aiglon College, Switzerland
With a view of Mont Blanc, this high altitude school lends itself to outdoor pursuits. The school caters for boys and girls aged nine to 18 and is modelled on the traditional British Boarding school. Unlike most schools, however, the whole school body comes together for 20 minutes of meditation on three mornings each week. Notable alumni: Actor Michel Gill, Princess Tatiana of Greece and Denmark, Sheherazade Goldsmith Fees: up to £80,810 per year (upper school boarding)
3/10 Collège Alpin International Beau Soleil
Founded in 1910, Beau Soleil is one of the oldest private boarding schools in Switzerland. It is positioned 1,350 metres above sea level on the Swiss Alps and hosts pupils from more than 40 different nationalities aged 11-18. The curriculum is taught in both French and English and focuses on outdoor sports, with a ski slope and ice skating rink on site. Notable alumni: Racing driver Jacques Villeneuve, Princess Marie of Denmark, Prince Guillaume, Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg Fees: £79,528
Collège Alpin International Beau Soleil
4/10 Collège du Léman International School, Switzerland
Taking in children from as young as one year old, College du Leman teaches a bilingual programme of French and English up to age 18. The school campus stretches out across eight hectares and offers access to both Geneva city and the mountains. Pupils from more than 100 nationalities attend. Noteable alumni: Anna Ovcharova, Swiss, Russian figure skater Fees: £68,960 pa
5/10 Leysin American School, Switzerland
Another high-profile Swiss school, popular for its exclusive ski and snowboard facilities. LAS Students are allowed to spend Tuesday and Thursday afternoons on the mountain for sports. Despite its name, around 12 per cent of students are from the US. Notable alumni: According to Bloomberg, alumni include members of Saudi Arabia’s royal family, the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts. Fees: Approx £66,700 per year
Leysin American School
6/10 Institut auf dem Rosenberg
7/10 Think Global School
The world’s first “travelling high school” takes pupils to four different countries each year – allowing pupils to experience subjects out in the field. The school has one teacher for every three students and has a 100 per cent pass rate for the International Baccalaureate qualification. Notable alumni: The school is only seven years old, but will no doubt become a popular choice with the next generation of rock stars’ children. Fees: £63,980. Sliding-scale scholarships offered.
8/10 The American school in Switzerland (TASIS)
The first US boarding school to be set up in Europe, TASIS lies on the Dollina d’Oro in the Swiss mountains. Fine art is central to the school curriculum and TASIS hosts its own Spring Arts Festival which attracts a number of famous artists and musicians each year. Notable alumni: American mountain climber Francys Arsentiev, Performer Jeanie Cunningham and Italian-American film director Francesca Gregorini Fees: £63,561 pa
9/10 Brillantmont, Switzerland
A family-run, traditional Swiss school for 130 years, Brillantmont overlooks Lake Geneva and sits just a five-minute walk away from Lausanne. Brillantmont boasts that 100 per cent of its students continue their studies to higher education. Notable alumni: kept suspiciously on the down-low Fees: £52,010 - £59,680 pa
10/10 Hurtwood house, Surrey
Hurtwood house, surrey Several of the best UK boarding schools top their fees around this mark. Set in an Edwardian mansion with 200 acres of grounds, Hurtwood House is one of the most unique. The school hosts just 340 pupils and is known for its focus on creativity and the arts – a recent school production of Chicago cost £75,000 to stage, according to Tatler. Notable alumni: Emily Blunt, Jack Huston, Hans Zimmer Fees: £39,555 pa
Footage could also be shared with parents to involve them in addressing their children’s behaviour.
Feedback from parents and schools was said to be positive, with teachers praising them as an effective deterrent.
A survey published on Wednesday questioning teachers on the idea found more than a third would be willing to wear a body camera in the classroom, with many wanting the technology available to help combat bad behaviour from pupils.
Over one in 10 believe the time will come when bodycams will be mandatory in UK schools, the Times Education Supplement (TES) poll found.
Of the 37.7 per cent who said they were in favour, some 31.6 per cent said they were motivated by teacher and student safety.
Among those who were not willing to use the technology, reasons included concerns about their own privacy and that of the children, as well as feeling spied on, or the potential for misuse by management.
Around two-thirds of the teachers polled - more than 600 in total - said they would feel safer in the classroom if they knew there was a camera recording everything, while 10.9 per cent said they could foresee a time when bodycams are compulsory.
Mary Bousted, general secretary at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said the union did not support the use of surveillance technology to monitor children and staff.
“All schools should be safe places for pupils and staff,” she said.
“The evidence suggests that the best way to ensure children behave well in schools is for schools to have a good behaviour policy which is accepted by all staff and parents and is consistently applied in the school with sanctions all the pupils understand.
”If schools have good behaviour policies they should not have to resort to using body cameras or CCTV. We would not support schools being turned into prisons.
“CCTV can have a useful role in monitoring entrances and exits to schools to prevent strangers gaining access or vandalism, but we do not support their use in schools to monitor children and staff.”
A Department for Education spokeswoman said the trial is “a matter for the schools”.