CCTV cameras and microphones are being installed in schools to monitor children’s behaviour and teachers’ performance in what union leaders described as ‘Big Brother’ tactics.
Although taking part in the monitoring sessions is voluntary, headteachers say they expect the majority of their staff to participate Photo: GETTY
Four schools in Salford, Greater Manchester, have installed cameras and microphones in special training classrooms.
The 360-degree cameras are so powerful that observers can see what children are writing.
Although taking part in the monitoring sessions is voluntary, headteachers say they expect the majority of their staff to participate.
Union officials fear reluctant teachers will be compelled to take part at the trial in Harrop Fold School, Albion High School, St George’s RC High School, and the Oasis Academy.
They said the filmed lessons could be used to get around existing agreements on how often senior teachers can sit in to monitor other staff during lessons.
Under national guidelines, teachers can be monitored only three hours a year following complaints that excessive monitoring was putting them off.
Dr Mary Bousted, head of the ATL teaching union, said: “It does seem a bit Big Brother-ish. Although schools say that the process is voluntary, it would be quite difficult to stand out and say `no’ if other people are agreeing to it.”
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT union, said: “We do not support the use of cameras in this way and see no professional security or educational benefits to such systems.”
Antony Edkins, the ‘superhead’ recruited to turn around Harrop Fold four years ago, insisted he wouldn’t be spying on teachers and that monitoring was `constructive’ rather than `judgemental’.
He said: “This is not Big Brother in any sense. We are using the technology as a coaching tool. It allows teachers to get the benefit of an extra pair of eyes.
“Having someone in the class can put off teachers. But allowing a coach to remotely watch everything that is going on and give feedback has been really useful.
“If a particular part of the lesson isn’t working or if the children are not responding, they can suggest asking more open questions or allowing the pupils more time to respond.
“I have used it, both as a coach and as a teacher, and found the feedback was useful. A number of staff have volunteered to take part in the coaching and the majority will use it on an on-going basis but we are certainly not forcing it. There is no point in people doing it who don’t feel happy with it.”
Last Updated: 2:30PM GMT 05 Mar 2009
Source: The Telegraph