Revealed: The CCTV cameras spying on hundreds of classrooms
Olinka Koster | August 18, 2008
CCTV monitors classrooms at one in 14 schools, according to a survey.
The poll of teachers also found that almost a quarter feared there might be more cameras hidden around the campus that they did not know about.
Most said their schools were fitted with surveillance cameras. Almost 80 per cent said there were cameras at the entrance and more than 7 per cent said there were some in classrooms.
Nearly 10 per cent of teachers polled by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said there were cameras in the lavatories.
Teaching unions said the cameras were being used to monitor pupils’ behaviour. But they fear the devices could inhibit teachers from performing to the best of their abilities.
Supporters of the surveillance say it is there to protect children and staff.
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association, said there were no rules governing the installation of the cameras or the use of images. ‘No one really knows enough about the use of CCTV in schools - it’s a very new issue.
‘Certainly we would want staff to be involved in decisions about the use of CCTV in schools, and strict safeguards for its use. Although surveillance in schools can have some positive outcomes, such as discouraging vandalism and violence, we think there are some instances where it should be strictly controlled.’
Earlier this year, Julia Neal, the association’s president, condemned the ‘ overmeasured, over-monitored’ education system, warning that the increasingly ‘Orwellian’ tactics’ would see lessons become uniform and uninspiring if staff were worried about being observed. Most cameras were primarily installed for security reasons.
But almost half of teachers said they were also used to monitor pupil behaviour. Almost half said they would behave differently if they knew CCTV was operating.
However, 53 per cent admitted the cameras made them feel safer.
Why learn it when you can Google it?
A good memory is not as important for GCSE students as it was for pupils sitting exams 20 years ago – because there is so much information on the internet.
Search engines such as Google give us easy access to information – and exams have been adapted to take this into account. Instead, GCSEs are designed to test problem-solving abilities, examiners say.
Mike Cresswell, chief executive of the AQA exam board, told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘It is undoubtedly the case these days that to be an effective citizen and employee, when there is so much information that is fairly rapidly accessible and well catalogued, a good memory is less important than it was years ago.
‘It is important that people do learn key facts. But there has been a shift in the balance in the amount of memory involved in modern exams compared to the past. It is what you do with the information, how to process it and arrive at solutions to problems, that are the more important skills.’
But critics said the admission was further evidence of dumbing down.