General Chat Thread, Surveillance in schools - today's Guardian in General; An article in today's Guardian depicts a world in which lawbreaking schools subject pupils to the same level of CCTV ...
16th March 2010, 09:40 AM #1
Surveillance in schools - today's Guardian
An article in today's Guardian depicts a world in which lawbreaking schools subject pupils to the same level of CCTV scrutiny as prison inmates, teachers use headsets to eavesdrop on private conversations, and "most secondary schools have at least 20 cameras". Apparently "it is now common for secondary schools to fingerprint pupils".
Schools 'break law' to spy on pupils | Education | guardian.co.uk
Last edited by BJG; 16th March 2010 at 09:49 AM.
16th March 2010, 09:57 AM #2
looks like a very sensationalised article send a few of the readers into the schools that have and need that level of CCTV and I'd bet they'd think more need to be installed!
I guess in a very loose way schools are a bit like prisons, a good percentage of secondary age pupils really don't want to be there and often think they can get away with vandalism, violence among other things that they wouldn't do outside school because the police are often not involved until an incident is deemed serious enough.
16th March 2010, 10:10 AM #3
Wheres the evidence that the cameras are used for spying? We have about 20, 18 of which are outside just to try and discourage (or try to find out who commited) vandalism.
No-one has any interest in monitoring pupils every move ffs..they're needed because its a large and open site thats seen plenty of vandalism and break ins over the years
16th March 2010, 10:53 AM #4
why do they need to raise the issue of what happened in America with those laptops, people seem to forget we are, apparently, another country!
16th March 2010, 11:08 AM #5
Sounds like an over-sensationalised story, loosely based on the misdeeds of a VERY small percentage of schools, and projecting that to assume that all schools are the same.
We have external cameras for prevention and detection of crime, or whatever the phrase is, and nothing inside, as I'm sure many of us here do; even among those with internal cameras, it is highly unlikely they're recording audio or broadcasting a live feed to a web site. For those schools with high vandalism, internal truancy or abuse (both of pupils and staff), internal cameras are no doubt invaluable.
I liked the paragraph about how people didn't know there were cameras. It reads like we're meant to stand up at the front of assembly every week and remind them about the cameras, and maybe include a yearly tour of the school pointing them all out! Schools have signs up saying we have cameras and why, you can't blame the school for the fact that the pupils choose to ignore these signs.
The "common-place" finger-printing is amusing too. I suspect the number of schools who actually use finger-prints for cashless catering is fairly small, but even then, the print can't be downloaded and identified back to the student, and the information is not used given to the Police or whatever.
Of course, if we didn't have cashless catering, then the papers would probably just be running with stories about schools endangering kids by making them carry money, which they then get beaten up for.
Over-sensational, pseudo-journalism from people who should know better, designed to sell papers and allow editors to feel important by spouting, rather than inform the public of anything real. Sorry, was that a little harsh?!
16th March 2010, 11:26 AM #6
the finger printing thing is a mis direction, the finger prints taken by schools are for the library or cashless catering system, and cant be used to identify the kids. From that article it implies that the kids are bieng sat down with an ink pad and a piece of paper to record prints.
16th March 2010, 11:27 AM #7
As a secondary school we have 16 cameras. We'd have more but we've run out camera slots on the current system. Clearly that's so we can create a prison atmosphere.
Originally Posted by BJG
Or it could be that 2/3 of the cameras are outside watching the grounds because of the thieving scrotes who attempt to steal the lead off the roof on a regular basis, break tiles and generally attempt parkour across our site.
The rest cover exit and entrances and the outer doors of areas where we know stuff gets nicked.
So our main aims are a) preventing vandalism at nights and weekends b) having a log of who enters/exits the school and c) apprehending thieves.
The library system does. I'm unconvinced as to the effectiveness as a means of ID (software & reader are rubbish) or whether we should be using it. "We bought this, oh and it can use fingerprints" - er,....ok.
Apparently "it is now common for secondary schools to fingerprint pupils".
16th March 2010, 11:36 AM #8
We've got about 20 cameras around the site, and so far they've been used in several criminal investigations, and hundreds of vandalism and bullying cases. They aren't monitored, but are used to review incidents when they happen. If we hadn't had them, we would not have been able to provide evidence of several burglaries to the police, leading to one court case. We wouldn't have been able to track down countless smashed windows, broken computers etc... Meaning a large cost to the school every year. Would parents rather the school budget be wasted replacing basic equipment all the time?
We also fingerprint our kids for our cashless catering system - if we didn't, we'd have to waste thousands of pounds on providing cards for all kids, which would have the whole stolen identity/loss/theft issue. We had complaints about it from 2 families out of the entire school, and those 2 families are not on the system.
Why on earth would a school want to spy or do any of these things? It doesn't make any sense...
Also, that article overstates what the schools have to do to inform people of the cameras presence. The DPA states that the school must place easily viewable notices around the premises outlining that CCTV is in use, who is operating it, and why. We have notices at both entrances to the school saying this, as does every other school I've ever been into with CCTV. The article makes it sound like the school has to put big signs by every camera saying 'LOOK THERE'S A CAMERA!!!'.
16th March 2010, 12:19 PM #9
So 24 schools out of what, 250,000 schools, probably more, and we're all law breakers? As a 'southerner' I could crack a joke about schools in Manchester, but as already pointed out, all schools are basically the same, and though the kids are possibly more Devious than they used to be, they are still pretty much the same kids as we had 50 years ago; You get the idiots who pick on anything and anyone, and you get the kids who get PICKED ON by anything and anyone, and most sit somewhere in the middle.
Researcher Emmeline Taylor examined surveillance practices in 24 comprehensives in north-west England and analysed the law governing CCTV use in schools as part of her PhD thesis.
An interesting study would be, would be to pick one of these "Prison" schools, and remove ALL CCTV that doesn't cover main gates/entrances etc, and then publicise it fully. I'd wonder how long till someone sets fire to something, how many fire alarms are set off, or someone gets badly beaten up.
The one thing I disagree with is putting these CCTV in classrooms for the purpose of "watching Staff/Students". The reasons for putting CCTV up are for safety and security of the school, the equipment and the people in it.
If you need to watch a Teacher or a class, then you have another issue at hand that CCTV does not solve. If you have a problem teacher/class, the CCTV will not SOLVE it, just make you aware of it in a different way.
It is cheaper to put in 1 camera in a corridor, room or watching some area, than it is to replace a door, or a window, or a computer a few times a year due to constant abuse. Is one camera watching a regular spot for bullying or other trouble not worth catching the person who has been dealing drugs, or regularly bullying someone, or purposely vandalising something. If you cover all the areas where trouble happens, yes the kids move to somewhere else to continue, but chances are it won't be as secluded, and increases the likelyhood of getting caught.
If the kids never did anything bad, then we wouldn't need CCTV, and CCTV rarely (I won't say never...) causes the trouble, it just captures it for later review.
Half of the trouble of 'modern society' is that children do NOT see any boundary's. 50 years ago, hell even 15-20 years ago children would barely have the guts to speak out of turn to a teacher, let alone swear at them, as there was a boundary, with repercussions for crossing the said boundary; You'd get a telling off, your get detention, your parents would find out, and you'd likely be grounded.
"Detention" now is bragging rights, Suspension is a free week at home playing on your Xbox, and "being grounded" means sitting in, watching TV, playing on the computer, and eating junk food.
And now there's talk (heard it on the radio yesterday, cannot remember which station I'm afraid...) of making schools who EXCLUDE children (aka expell them for the oldies) must now take them back!
The reason a child is excluded from a school, is because the child is disrupting others, has shown no remorse or will to stop the disruption, and is no longer responsive to the school system.
It is then the parents responsibility to see to it the child is educated according to the law, as the child would not respond to the original school. Sending the child BACK into the place that obviously didn't agree with them is sticking a child in a place for the sake of following "The law", and will help noone. Sometimes a change of scenary works, sometimes it won't. But NOT doing something, and REMOVING the final sanction is a horribly bad move for all involved.
Imagine in the world of employment, if the worst thing that could happen was that you were sent home for a week with no repercussions other than "Someone wrote it down in a log", and you could never be fired. How many of us would ever turn up to work ever again, ever adhere to regulations...
16th March 2010, 12:34 PM #10
Not only am I pretty sure that the schools teach the children what standards are expected by the school and society, but I'm also pretty sure that (as in life) "fear of being caught" is what stops many from committing unacceptable acts.
"How do you teach kids about good behaviour if its only basis is the fear of being caught?"
16th March 2010, 12:51 PM #11
Yes but... It depends on specifically what you're watching for. I think of one example of someone I know who was accused of hitting a child during a lesson. Thankfully for them, the classroom CCTV showed otherwise and it all went away very quickly. It could also be useful in the event of vandalism, or similar. If, however, you are watching because you think the teacher is useless or whatever, then I would agree that cameras aren't the solution (not the entire solution, anyway).
Originally Posted by neilfisher
16th March 2010, 12:54 PM #12
Good point! I had a friend who was accused of making improper advances to a student, but the CCTV proved otherwise.
Originally Posted by enjay
16th March 2010, 01:33 PM #13
This is research for a PhD so calling them a "researcher" isn't wrong.
Surely you mean a student?
Basically I think it's fine to question things like CCTV levels and usage in schools, same as anything else done with public money for apparent public good ... maybe the answer will be "Don't panic, it's all OK", but a little scrutiny every now and again helps keep things on the straight and narrow.
[No I don't trust some schools to get it right all by themselves]
16th March 2010, 01:40 PM #14
16th March 2010, 02:04 PM #15
HAHA! perhaps she should visit a few of our schools and perhaps work out a time for us to sit around watching CCTV
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