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REDBRIDGE: School installs CCTV in classrooms
8:27am Wednesday 8th October 2008 in News
As teaching unions raise concerns about surveillance in schools, it has emerged that King Solomon High is the only site in the borough to actually have CCTV cameras in its classrooms.
The data, obtained by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act, shows that there are nine devices fitted at the Barkingside school in teaching rooms, alongside other cameras keeping watch outside.
According to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), 85 per cent of schools now have surveillance devices somewhere on their properties, but few have gone as far as installing them in classrooms.
However, headteacher Spencer Lewis said the cameras, which are kept on day and night, were only there because of problems with thefts at the school.
He said: “We have had quite a few problems with break-ins and people stealing our computer equipment.
“It’s nothing to do with the students, they are not the ones being watched, and they are not in any classrooms where there is nothing to steal.”
He added: “Although I’m pleased to say we haven’t really had any anti-semitic incidents over the school’s history, you always have to be on your guard.”
A former pupil at the school, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Guardian: “When I was at King Solomon’s we had a big problem with thefts, so it doesn’t really surprise me.
“At some points we had computer equipment and projectors being stolen almost every week. It happened a lot during the day and in between lessons, it was probably other pupils or cleaners. And the school does get lots of threats, so I don’t think anyone really minds.”
A spokesman for the ATL said a survey of its 160,000 members concluded that “the general consensus is that classroom surveillance is an invasion of privacy, disrupts education and ‘should not be allowed in the classroom, where you would always feel like you were being watched and judged’.”
But Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary of ATL, did add a note of caution.
She said: “No one really knows enough about the use of CCTV in schools. It’s a very new issue.
“Although surveillance in schools can have some positive outcomes, such as discouraging vandalism and violence, we think there are some instances where it should be strictly controlled.”