How safe are our teachers?
A former colleague contacted me this week to say they were at home watching the television. A question had been asked by the panel: “Should teachers wear body cameras?” which reminded of a number of articles published in the press:
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 Independent)
What Actually Happened?
Throughout my career, I have dealt with a number of safeguarding issues with families, individual students and allegations against staff. Having worked with over 1000 teachers in the past 20 years, I can probably count on one hand the number of occasions where a safeguarding concern has led to an immediate dismissal of a colleague – or at least a suspension whilst an investigation is conducted.
On the other hand, I’ve lost count how many students have been excluded for misdemeanors.
I’ve worked in schools covered with CCTV, as well as a number of classrooms and offices with cameras fitted to the walls. As a senior teacher, I can find myself visiting the CCTV control room at least once a week to investigate an incident or resolve an issue for another colleague. It’s often to identify a student or use the footage to determine ‘what actually happened’. I wonder how much we rely on cameras in our schools? They are a necessity for those working in challenging circumstances …
On Trial in English Schools
It has been reported, that teachers in schools are using body cameras in a bid to control students’ behaviour.
Teachers, students and senior leadership teams can feel reassured that cameras around a school will protect and keep the school site safe. I wonder if this is the case if body cameras’ are fitted to our teachers? Surely, the easiest solution is to fit every classroom with CCTV?
The 1988 Act states that surveillance must be legitimate, proportionate and necessary. It is understood the footage could be used to provide evidence for disciplinary action as well as to share with parents.
Headteacher Vic Goddard says teachers don’t wear them in his classrooms, but support staff use the cameras during lunch breaks. He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “Our midday assistants are very much thinking it helps them do their job better.” Meanwhile, Tom Starkey, a teacher in Leeds told the BBC he can see the benefits of some teachers wearing police-style body cameras: “I have been assaulted while I have teaching. I have been punched before and pushed over a table.”
Watch this short video from The Telegraph and make your mind up:
A teacher is expected to demonstrate consistently high standards of personal and professional conduct; having regard for the need to safeguard pupils’ well-being, in accordance with statutory provisions.
(DfE: Teachers’ Standards 2014)
Here is a reminder of ‘safeguarding’ for every teacher, parent and student: Teachers will “manage behaviour effectively to ensure a good and safe learning environment. They will;
- have clear rules and routines for behaviour in classrooms, and take responsibility for promoting good and courteous behaviour both in classrooms and around the school, in accordance with the school’s behaviour policy
- have high expectations of behaviour, and establish a framework for discipline with a range of strategies, using praise, sanctions and rewards consistently and fairly
- manage classes effectively, using approaches which are appropriate to pupils’ needs in order to involve and motivate them
- maintain good relationships with pupils, exercise appropriate authority, and act decisively when necessary.
Now that’s what teachers should do. What happens if students are out of control and there is nothing to document what actually happened? We’ve all seen those terrible mobile phone videos uploaded on to the internet by students. It’s safe to say, our schools do need CCTV fitted across the school site and in some parts of the building. As for wearing cameras on teachers’ bodies? Well, only time will tell. One thing is for sure, we need to safeguard our students and also protect our teachers from allegations.
What do you think?