Ella Wills reports for i News. At my secondary school, a nerdy all-girls grammar, the height of bad behaviour was to whip out a sanitary towel, colour it in and stick it to your teacher’s desk. We would wait until she turned her back, then pounce with our pads. But what if she had eyes in the back of her head? Or perhaps a camera?
For students in China, being recorded at school is the new norm. Thousands of primary and secondary schools across the country have installed webcams in the classroom, which live-stream lessons to the public.
This anytime school surveillance is chilling. The pressure placed on children to perform under the watchful eye of China’s Big Brother must be immense. And this is set against the backdrop of China’s infamously high-pressure schooling system. Zhao Weifeng, director of a private school in the eastern province of Jiangsu: “When you tell them, ‘It’s possible your parents might be behind your back watching,’ it’s like a sword hanging over their heads.”
Schools in the UK have increasingly turned to permanent surveillance too. A 2012 report by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) showed that 90 per cent of secondary schools had CCTV cameras installed.
In February, two schools in the UK began a three-month trial of body cameras for teachers. The scheme came in response to teachers being “fed-up with low-level background disorder.”
However, while the goal may be to improve student behaviour, the idea that students must be kept under constant surveillance is the stuff of prisons.
Students should not be treated as suspects. The balance of trust between students and teachers is a delicate one, and will not be enhanced by the addition of constant surveillance.
Teenagers are already hooked on live-streaming their day on social media: we should look to protect their privacy at school. With continued developments in recording technology, we should be wary of how much we snoop on the younger generation.
Are cameras in the classrooms a step to far or are they necessary? Can livestreaming to the public be seen as dangerous? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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