Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Degradation of trust

I was outraged by the Channel 5 programme Classroom Chaos, screened on 27 April. It was produced by a documentary maker and a supply teacher who took a hidden camera into schools where she worked.

While I'm sure my school wasn't involved, I have spent quite a lot of time producing a policy about taking images of pupils and storing them, including the onerous issue of obtaining their parents' or their own consent, even for the most innocuous of purposes, because of new regulations to protect them.

How then can a supply teacher, in a position of trust, get away with this? The schools, parents and pupils involved did not know about it until afterwards, so were unable to take preventative action.

Despite editing to obscure the pupils' identities, presumably their images have been stored by some method without their express permission.

There is also the issue of at least a potential conflict of interest. If the intention is to make a programme about disruption in classrooms, there is little motivation to deploy effective teaching and learning strategies which might prevent it.

There is a debate to be had about disruption, but not via this underhand and exploitative method.

The spread of mobile phones with still-picture or even video capability raises further issues of child protection, never mind the prospect of pupils 'setting-up' incidents to photograph and place on the internet. We must be vigilant and respond accordingly.

I was pleased to note the rapid and robust response of SHA to this programme, particularly the press release by John Dunford. At the very least, I hope the way this programme was made will be considered by the appropriate regulatory body.

Philip Clarke, head, Dayncourt School, Nottinghamshire

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