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School ICT Policies Thread, photos of children - any exact rules or legislation? in School Administration; I've just drafted a first attempt at a school website policy. The website is closed to the general public (members-only, ...
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    photos of children - any exact rules or legislation?

    I've just drafted a first attempt at a school website policy. The website is closed to the general public (members-only, with moderated membership consisting only of users currently connected to the school in some capacity - Eg. parents, teachers and pupils). In the policy I stated that:

    - photos will contain two or more children (ie. 'group photos' only), and only first names will be used in accompanying text. Photos will also only be of appropriate activities that promote our curriculum.

    - For children under 13 years, the children themselves cannot give permission (although if they don't want something published, we won't). So we will assume that permission is granted by the parents UNLESS they actively join a 'database of objections'. They can also request specific material is removed at any time.

    - For children 13 or over, pupils are responsible themselves for giving permission for their work/image to be used on the website. Again, we will generally assume that permission is granted unless they actively join the database of objections. Teachers will ask them verbally before submitting their image/work for publication, and again they can ask for specific material to be deleted at any time.

    The policy has been returned to me querying whether these points conform to legislation. For instance, it was thought that photos can't be used if there are less than six children in the photo. Also, it was thought that written permission was required for each and every person in each and every photo. There was also an impression that the school could be sued if a photo was taken and published without permission, which I strongly disagree with!

    I have no idea where these ideas are coming from, because basically they render usage of photos unrealistic and unworkable; it would not be worth my time and effort to put photos onto the website.

    I have read several BECTA documents and other school website policies, and I am under the impression that there are no such legal, legislative guidelines, especially ones so specific. I feel that the usage of photos in my draft is responsible and at the same time reasonable.

    However, I need to double-check that such legislation doesn't exist (I can't find it), and I'd also like a second opinion about whether my draft proposal is fair and acceptable?

    Also, any staggeringly good 'website policies' around here? I've read a few from actual school websites, but they weren't very inspiring. I'd like to see a good one to perhaps highlight areas I might have missed (especially 'acceptable use' policy).

    Thanks.

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    Re: photos of children - any exact rules or legislation?

    there's an NSPCC link here, and BECTA also offer advice (but I can't locate it this morning, and I'm in a hurry today). You may want to contact your LEA, and do a search on the Edugeek forums for something similar.

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    Re: photos of children - any exact rules or legislation?

    Thanks for the NSPCC link; very helpful advice to add to our policy.

    > You may want to contact your LEA

    We don't have one - we're a small independent school in Spain. The other private schools in the area seem to publish anything they want to the general public. Of course, we want to be more responsible than that.

    I read the 64 page BECTA doc and researched some other schools' website policies, and ended up with the draft paraphrased above. However, there seems to be a lot of misinformation and hysteria about using photos in school websites amongst those who haven't researched it (unfortunately they are influential people within the organisation).

    For instance, most other staff seem to think that website photos come under the data protection act, but I don't think they do if there is no other information held with the photos(?) Many people also seem to think that if we erroneously publish a photo without permission that we can be sued for thousands of euros (as opposed to just being asked to take the image off)!

    Most seem to be plucking 'facts' and 'legislation' out of thin air without realising how much it would restrict our website presence should their knee-jerk opinions get approved the board of governors.

    So, am I right? Are there only guidelines, advice and common sense? Or have I missed some legislation which states 'there must be six children in each photo'?

    Also I am very interested in confirming whether we need to get permission from 1200 people (parents and the 'age 13+ pupils') to use children's images and work, or whether it is ok to assume permission is given by default, and for the 30-40 who do not wish to participate to be responsible for informing us of their wishes (which makes far more sense)?

    Finally, in addition, if anyone cares to comment, why the hell are the BECTA 'forums' (mailing lists) so convoluted?? I think that it is outrageous that an organisation promoting ICT is using such a system (instead of a web-based forum) - it is completely awful!

    Cheers.

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    Geoff's Avatar
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    Re: photos of children - any exact rules or legislation?

    Also be aware of the lack of Data Protection issues.

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    Re: photos of children - any exact rules or legislation?

    1) First names only by photographs of them on the website if a name is to be put down

    2) Annual notice for withdrawal of censent in newsletter. Withdrawals must be in writing.

    As far as i know that was our policy. I didnt handle that side of the website I just added content as it was passed to me. But that was how I think we had it setup.

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    Re: photos of children - any exact rules or legislation?

    The school has a concent form that parents must sign to allow children's photos to be used in publicity and marketing - this includes newsletters, flyers, booklets, prospectus, newspaper articles and website.

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    Re: photos of children - any exact rules or legislation?

    As you are in Spain, looking at Becta guidence is going to be of no use, legally, whether you are an Britsh school or not - surely you are under the same laws, if there are any, as Spanish schools not UK ones?

    However, your policy certainly seems to be err-ing on the safe side. We are far less strict, our policy is basically:
    no surnames
    if there is a photo, there are no names
    photos of individuals or groups are kept small (400x400)
    consent form signed by parents.

    Becta do say that consent isn't specifically required, but I think it is polite. Your school probably already send out a data check sheet - perhaps just include it on the bottom of that.

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    Re: photos of children - any exact rules or legislation?

    Thanks for all your replies.

    > As you are in Spain, looking at Becta guidance
    > is going to be of no use, legally

    We're a 'British international school' sitting IGCSE, which is why I'm looking towards DfES guidance. But also, in general Spain is absolutely atrocious for any sort of information sharing and/or organisation (Britain has the opposite problem of being too organised sometimes!). I'm basically assuming that if Britain doesn't have clear legislation with regard to images of minors, then Spain definitely won't.

    But your point hits the nail on the head - as far as I can make out, BECTA guidelines aren't 'legal' either from the viewpoint of 'following specific legislation'(?). The Americans have COPA legislation, but I don't think there is an equivalent in Europe(?).

    > However, your policy certainly seems to be err-ing on the safe side.
    > 2) Annual notice for withdrawal of censent in newsletter.
    > Withdrawals must be in writing.

    Ah, now this is what I wanted to hear! I think my original proposal is safer than it actually needs to be, and think that the other staff are really over-reacting in suggesting further measures that would inhibit the development of the site and stifle its usefulness.

    > [our] school has a consent form that parents must sign
    > to allow children's photos to be used in publicity and
    > marketing - this includes newsletters, flyers, booklets,
    > prospectus, newspaper articles and website.

    This is what I'm trying to avoid. I would like the 'website consent' process to be separate from all that; I don't consider that a 100x100 72ppi image of some children playing a football match in a website news item in the same league (pardon the pun) as a professionally-taken close-up photo being used in the prospectus to advertise the school.

    By the replies here, it seems to me that I could implement an opt-out scheme for the website, rather than have everyone explicitly opt-in. Also it appears as though there is no legislation except the Data Protection Act, which doesn't seem to apply often for website photos.

    Cheers!

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    Re: photos of children - any exact rules or legislation?

    Opt out is what we did as opposed to opt in. Reduces the paperwork drastically.

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    Re: photos of children - any exact rules or legislation?

    The Americans have COPA legislation
    No they don't. The US Supreme court blocked it on the grounds it violated the constitution (1st and 4th amendments).

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    Re: photos of children - any exact rules or legislation?

    I wouldn't have any policies on my head. Get some sort of management to be aware of this, and that they need to sort it. Maybe even the governors should be involved?

    While you might write it down, they should decide.

    fooby

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    Re: photos of children - any exact rules or legislation?

    > The US Supreme court blocked it on the grounds it violated the constitution

    oh, ok. I thought that got knocked-back during an appeal. That's where I got the 'age of consent' from, suggesting that children 13 or over could give their own consent, whislt younger children required parental consent. I think I'll keep that in the policy though, even though it has no legal basis at all. Cheers.

    > While you might write it down, they should decide.

    Thanks. Yes, that's the plan. However, the people who are deciding seem to have an un-informed opinion about what is necessary, responsible or even reasonable; some are even quoting legislation which obviously doesn't exist. If I don't make a stand against them, we will hardly have any photos or children's work on our website due to the restrictions imposed by the policy! Some people are just being hysterical about it.

    Again, thanks for all your replies. Very helpful.

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    Re: photos of children - any exact rules or legislation?

    you will have to have the consent of the person in the picture 1st

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    Re: photos of children - any exact rules or legislation?

    Hi, thanks for your reply.

    > you will have to have the consent of the person in the picture 1st

    This is exactly the type of statement that I trying to deal with from other staff. What does that mean exactly? Is it based on legislation? I 'have' to get consent? Nothing I've read so far suggests I have to do anything! If you can show me where an official document states that, I'd be much obliged, because that is exactly what I'm looking for.

    What I've qualified so far from this thread is that as long as I provide an 'opt-out' scheme (out of courtesy), I don't need to get explicit permission from everyone else to 'opt-in'. The difference between opt-in and opt-out is having to check and maintain a database of well over 1200 entries versus one with 30-40 objections. If a tiny minority of children and parents object, surely they should be the ones to be proactive about it, rather than forcing everyone else to do so?

    Also, if you know, can a young child give their own consent, or does it have to be a parent? Is there an 'age of consent' actually defined?

    Cheers.

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