FAQ :: Do schools in the UK and Australia use spy cameras?

Hundreds of primary and secondary schools across England began installing CCTV cameras in classrooms in 2009 and will continue to do so for about five more years to root out bad teachers and check up on naughty pupils.

The decision was made after a test had been conducted in the Stockwell Park high school located in a deprived south London neighborhood. Two cameras were placed in each of its 30 classrooms and another 40 in its canteen, corridors and playgrounds. Classwatch was the company that supplied the cameras.

Classwatch says hundreds of schools have expressed an interest in installing cameras in classrooms over the next five years. Its managing director, Angus Drever, says 94 schools in the UK already use its high-definition cameras in their classrooms at a cost of £1,345 a year for the lease of two cameras in a classroom, including maintenance.

“The children are very happy here because they know they are on a school site where they are safe,” said Stockwell Park’s deputy head-teacher, Mike Rush. “They are in a position where they are not going to be robbed and harassed and so on. The parents are very happy with it. We’ve had no complaints from the teachers … they were the ones who suggested the cameras as a solution to people coming into the building, and disputes and problems with theft.”

Head-teachers labeled the surveillance networks in classrooms “Big Brotherish” and the expenditure of tens of thousands of pounds on the cameras “inappropriate.” [1]

It will only be a matter of time before Big Brother mandates that all public schools have surveillance cameras installed.

Parents are lobbying to install closed-circuit television on school grounds in Australia, as concern mounts about bullying and harassment between students, the Advertiser reported. They believe the CCTV cameras, which would not cover classrooms or change rooms, do not breach privacy regulations; but the South Australian Education Department and teachers say better ways can be implemented to control student misbehavior.

“Parents are conscious of privacy concerns–nobody wants to create a Big Brother environment in public schools,” said SA Association of State School Organisations director David Knuckey. “However, with the prevalence of bullying and the devastating effects it can have on children, parents are going to give serious consideration to any idea that may help the school deal with these behaviour-related problems.”

In 2010 Western Australian teachers called for surveillance cameras to be installed across the state, to protect them from violent outbursts from students and parents. The WA State School Teachers Union put forward a motion to have at least five video surveillance cameras installed in all schools. [2]

[1] Shepherd, Jessica. “Someone to watch over you.”The Guardian. 8.04.2009.
[2] Keller, Candace. “Parents want CCTV cameras in playgrounds.” The Advertiser. 11.09.2010.