Government allows problem schools to take up free camera surveillance trial (with streams available to parents)

The Telegraph is reporting that children in the schools most plagued by illegal drugs are being monitored by security cameras with the permission of the Government…

The Department for Education is allowing schools to trial state-of-the-art surveillance equipment in a crackdown on pupils dealing and taking drugs on their premises.

However, in contrast to conventional CCTV cameras, parents and teachers are able to watch live feeds across dozens of the IP (internet protocol) cameras set up in classrooms, corridors and playgrounds to keep tabs on schoolchildren’s behaviour.

Schools have been given the freedom to choose for themselves on whether to trial the system after the Department for Education said it does not have the authority to make a countrywide decision.

Two schools in Herefordshire, a school in Liverpool and one in Waltham Forest in north east London have taken up a trial by WatchBot, the camera company, which expects more institutions to sign up.

The system allows for up to 64 motion-sensitive cameras to be monitored simultaneously from any number of smartphones, tablets and desktops computers.

Individual cameras are sold for £150 each and there are no further costs, so for a school to install the maximum number it would have to spend £9,600. WatchBot has loaned the schools trialling the equipment 10 cameras each.

In a letter to WatchBot, seen by the Daily Telegraph, the Department of Education said: “The department appreciates your efforts to improve the safety of our children in schools.

“However, the role of this department is limited to setting the policy framework of the national curriculum of what is taught in terms of content, attainment targets and how performance is assessed and reported.

“Therefore, we do not endorse, fund or promote specific resources for use in schools.

“We leave these decisions for teachers to make, as we believe they are best placed to recognise the needs and abilities of their pupils.”…

The article says the streams are available online to teachers and parents but doesn’t make clear how public they are. Presumably each school would have a private (password protected?) system, but once parents have access they are surely effectively public? What do you think of the idea? Is it something that could help minimise bad behaviour, bullying and malicious allegations? And is making the streams available to parents/publicly a good idea or something you would have privacy concerns about? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…

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Categories: Safeguarding.

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