Yet More Surveillance in the Classroom

First it was police officers, then it was council officials and now it seems schools are beginning to issue teachers with body worn cameras.

Two UK schools have reportedly begun using the technology to gather evidence of serious misbehaviour or to capture “moments worth sharing”.

Already many schools have introduced CCTV cameras, biometric systems and use classroom management software to.

Supporters have stated that the use of the cameras adheres to education board-approved guidelines, something which mandates “that all footage is recorded with government-approved encryption and stored on a secure cloud platform”. This is all well and good but the question which needs to be asked is should these cameras be used in the classroom at all?

The use of this technology is spreading faster than the evidence to support it can appear. Early enthusiasts for equipping police officers with cameras stated that they would help cut levels of violence towards officers and reduce use of force by police. But last year the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge released a study showing that allowing officers discretion over when to switch the cameras off and on actually increased the amount of violence they faced by 15%.

On the basis of the limited information available this scheme sounds like an overreaction to problems which have existed for as long as schools have. The two schools using the technology have to make sure that both parents and pupils understand what is being done and have the opportunity to get their concerns heard.

The worst thing that could happen now is that more schools rush to introduce this technology before the results from the two using it at the moment can be assessed.

It’s vital that body worn cameras are used only when they can be effective and proportionate. Nothing published so far is convincing of either when it comes to using them in schools.

This is a move which has the potential to fundamentally change how teachers and pupils interact. We will be keeping a close eye on what happens next.