back to article Teachers give toilet CCTV top marks

As schools increasingly opt to install cameras in their pupils’ toilets, a survey this week shows the message from some teachers is “do as we say, not as we do”. This week, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) released the results of a preliminary survey of CCTV usage in schools. 85 per cent of teachers say that …

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  1. dervheid
    Pirate

    "habituating children to a very high degree of surveillance"

    Oh dear.

    It would appear that Terri Dowty has let the cat out of the bag on this one.

    One way ticket to a NuLaborian 'Thought Clinic' then.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Rehabilitating ex-cons

    At least Gary Glitter will be able to find work to keep him off the streets when he returns to the UK.

    Scamps + msn = Stu [-]

  3. A J Stiles
    Stop

    Toilet pictures

    So how long does anyone reckon it will be, before footage from some school toilet camera gets leaked onto the Internet?

    I can see the shit, I can see the fan, and I can see the gap narrowing .....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    How much of that is legal?

    I am really interested how much of that is legal. I had a discussion with a headmaster in a private school a while ago on the possibility of doing that and we ended up with the conclusion that it is totally useless. While recording it may be legal any actual use for the stated purposes is usually illegal and is breaking the DPA and a number of other statutes.

    For example if a school is using the CCTV for discipline enforcement they need to show CCTV exempts to parents. This however requires all parents of all other children in the footage to give their concent to their children being shown to the parent of the one at fault.

    The school has to have correct Data protection statements and that the CCTV has to be correctly signposted (most do not).

    Frankly, any parent whose child has been caught on CCTV is entitled to sue the school sorry arse out of existence until the school has nothing left in its budget from paying compensation to all parents of all children affected.

    Me coat, the one with 1984 written on it.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    1984? - Why is just "1984?" not sufficient as a title???

    Excellent, get the kids used to being watched all the time and when cctv is on the top of every lamppost they won't give a damn! Gotta agree on the use in toilets though, that'll keep them from smoking in there and trashing the place.

    I, for one, welcome our CCTV overlords.

  6. Christoph
    Black Helicopters

    Because we can get away with it

    If they tried this anywhere else there would be screams of fury. But children can't defend themselves from it, and so are assumed to have no rights at all.

    We will do absolutely anything at all to protect children. Except treat them as human beings.

  7. Neil Bauers

    School CCTV

    We have had CCTV in some computer rooms and communal areas for several years. Everyone gets used to it very quickly. It proved most useful when non-students came on site to steal stuff. The police got some high quality images from the system and recognised the offenders straight away. I expect it moves bullying to areas not on-camera. That is why out-of-sight bike sheds have been tradidtional bullying areas. In a previous college, the students stopped setting fire to the toilet rolls when a fake camera was installed. The students already video each other and their teachers with mobile phones. It's not that big a deal.

  8. Scott Thomson
    Thumb Up

    If I was a teacher

    I'd be quite happy if cameras were fitted in classrooms especially considering the large number of attacks on teachers and pupils.

    Its all about common sense really, if the head teacher is going to use it to spy on his staff then its not on but if it is purely going to be used for a safety perspective and only viewed in the event of an incident then what is the problem.

  9. Andy Turner

    Well of course they don't need them for the teachers

    They're not bullying each other and vandalising the school. Of course it's "one rule for them and another for the kids", because the kids are behaving differently. If they want to be treated like adults, act like them too.

  10. Anonymous John
    Coat

    A step too far.

    Mine's the one draped over the camera.

  11. Elmer Phud

    Carrots are off the menu

    Same old - same old. All stick and no carrot. If people are being twats then it can only be remedied with CCTV.

    I can see the 'Opportunities Advisor' sessions from here -- "Well, we've got several placements for CCTV system monitors at schools and shopping centers. Doesn't appear to be much else available these days".

  12. Mark W
    Flame

    Spokesperson in meaningless soundbite shocker

    "Worse, it is habituating children to a very high degree of surveillance, whilst at the same time destroying the potential for them to learn about relating to adults.

    “We have had reports of how, in some schools, CCTV monitors sit in staff rooms. Teachers increasingly tend to intervene in critical situations in a policing or disciplinary role. The human to human contact is lost.”

    How does having CCTV destroy the potential for kids to learn about relating to adults??

    How if teachers intervene in a 'policing or disciplinary role' is human contact lost? Surely the key word there is intervene - teacher to pupil - human to human, no? Or is there a new species that I've overlooked?

  13. Jason Hall

    Phones

    If it is deemed necessary to install cameras in the schools, then it should also be deemed fair to allow the kiddliwinks to have their phones/cameras back while on school grounds.

    Since the kiddies can protect themselves from bullying and bad teaching BY the teachers, as well as each other.

    In the same way that bullies won't like being filmed, maybe the teachers won't like being filmed all day from 20 different angles.

    And obviously allow the kiddies to film in the teachers toilets too... only fair....

    See how long they put up with that one.

    Of course all this does is *move* the bullying from around cameras to quiet spots of the school, or even off the grounds.

    But that is of course what the headteachers want isn't it? No bullying on their grounds. It doesn't matter if it happens somewhere else... but not on their turf?

  14. Graham Marsden
    Black Helicopters

    Irregular verb

    I am spied on.

    You are monitored.

    They are potential terrorists...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I was a Teacher

    I'd probably want a camera hovering over me at all times, so it can prove that I have never broken any law...

    However that notion in and of itself is increadibly depressing.

  16. Gav

    Pupils are not adults

    ”It is OK to ‘monitor’ pupils – but not to ‘spy on’ the grown ups.”

    Well, not to say that CCTV is all hunky-dory, but we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that it's OK to do a lot to pupils that's not OK for grown-ups. The pupils are obliged to be there by legal requirement. The grown-ups aren't.

    Half the problems in schools are to do with the ridiculous idea that pupils should be treated as adults, with the rights of adults. They're not adults, they are children. They don't have the rights of adults because they don't have the responsibilities of adults and no-one expects that they should behave like adults. Because they are children.

    Pretending otherwise doesn't help their education and development, and certainly doesn't help their teachers.

  17. Charlie

    I used to work at an FE college in the MIS dept

    and my experience with the teachers is that they are somewhat confused in what they want.

    example : our funding was completely dependant on the data we sent to the funding agency. Basic stuff like how many people on a given course, pass rates at exam time, and critically attendance.

    Unfortunately trying to make teachers record attendance is such a hot potato that they once tried to threaten me with union action when I told one that it was her legal responsibility to record attendance in her class. Not just for the data upon which our funding is dependant but also for Health and Safety regs. Should the building catch fire how will we know who is still in the classroom or not?

    Sadly they were terrified because many of them had almost nil attendance at their classes due to (amongst other regions) the shabby teaching methods, pointless courses and zero discipline. Therefore if this became apparent the course would be rightly closed down and the funds directed to a more appropriate outcome.

    So the logic was:

    I don't do my job properly (engage students with interesting content) so it is not in my interest to do my job properly (take a register) in case people find out that I don't do my job properly (engage students with interesting content) therefore I will continue to not do my job properly (not take a register) and if I'm challenged to do my job properly I'll get the union in to protect my right to not do my job properly.

  18. goggyturk

    Somebody else's problem

    "A quick Google throws up plenty of good news stories, in which the introduction of cameras appears to lead to less vandalism and graffiti, and a corresponding fall in bullying. The latter is claimed especially for the cameras in washrooms."

    This reminds me of the Old Firm games in Glasgow, when the clubs claim that there's no violence around the grounds when they play each other. But wander into the city centre later on and it's a different story.

    This just treats the symptoms, not the cause. Out of sight, out of mind as they say. Most school bullying takes the form of verbal and mental abuse anyway, which these cameras will do nothing to control.

  19. Matt

    Another question

    Shouldn't we be asking why there's such an increase in kids misbehaving? Assuming of course that there actually is and it's not another media hype or government statistic.

    I take a pain killer if I hurt but I also keep an eye on what's causing the pain.

    Just a thought......

  20. mittfh

    Cameras in loos?

    Depends what they're being used for. You don't need cameras to catch pupils smoking - just very sensitive smoke alarms wired into the mains (don't want the little blighters removing the battery!)

    At a squeeze, one facing down the line of basins, but surely a sensitive mic would be just as effective?

    I expect most incidents captured on CCTV during school hours could be sorted out without involving the parents watching the footage - the school would just deploy a member of staff to the affected area, and if necessary dish out a lunchtime detention.

    Lunchtime detentions are used quite frequently because as they take place during school time, you don't need to give the parents 24 hrs written notice (which means in reality the pupil gets the detention at least 2 days after the event)

  21. David Hicks
    Black Helicopters

    @Andy Turner

    "Well of course they don't need them for the teachers

    They're not bullying each other and vandalising the school. Of course it's "one rule for them and another for the kids", because the kids are behaving differently. If they want to be treated like adults, act like them too."

    So what do I have to do to be treated like an adult in today's surveillance oriented utopia?

    I don't want to be watched constantly either, as a law abiding adult, but that hasn't stopped anyone yet.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @Andy Turner

    'They're not bullying each other and vandalising the school. Of course it's "one rule for them and another for the kids", because the kids are behaving differently. If they want to be treated like adults, act like them too.'

    You seem to be under the misaprehension that all pupils at school are vandals and the assumption that they cannot act like adults at any time.

    Even if this was true there is no justification for secretly filming any child in a toilet.

    Its remarkable that we have reached a point that any official can question your right to photograph your own children but the state feels should be able to secretly film anyone anywhere.

    Technology is never a solution. it just makes the problem more complex.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Criminal Teachers

    If the teachers aren't up to no good in their toilets (criminal activity etc.) , then they should allow full CCTV installations in them.

    After all "if you have nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear".

    Isn't that how the inane saying goes with relation to surveillance?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    What of CRB?

    With all the "soft data" appearing on enhanced CRB checks, who is going to volunteer to monitor the Toiletcam?

    All it takes is a few whispered rumours about how Mr X or Miss Y really enjoy monitoring the toiletcam... they'll never work again.

    Of course, with high speed communications, we could get Monitoring Centres located on the other side of the world, but the kid's wouldn't understand the accents coming out of the camera loudspeakers.

  25. John Stevens
    Boffin

    @ meaningless soundbite shocker

    I rather think the point being made was that if cctv takes over to the point that teachers just stay in their common rooms, watch the pupils on their monitors, and only ever emerge to deal with "situations", then they cease to have a human face and just become police.

    The point of having teachers on duty in the playground is NOT just about keeping order. It is about being there to help, to chat, to hold hands (metaphorically - we don't do that literally nowadays): the 101 things that go to creating an interpersonal relationship.

    Bit like the difference between the Beat Bobby and the anonymous drones who arrive an hour later in response to a call-out.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    The "Chuck Berry Special."

    An American Classic

    Getcher Southern Air here:

    http://popcultureidiot.blogspot.com/2005/08/chuck-berry-potty-misdeeds.html

  27. Steve

    overkill?

    > the students stopped setting fire to the toilet rolls when a fake camera was installed.

    What's wrong with a smoke detector and powerful sprinker in each cubicle, and detention (or a good thrashing) for everyone who comes out soaking wet after the alarm goes off? Has the added benefit of better fire safety too...

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Cameras on every lamppost

    Coming - just as soon as lampposts start wearing the names of nu labours lackeys. Coming.

  29. Whitter
    Boffin

    Actual use

    Like most (though not all) CCTV, nobody actually watches it. Only when an incident is reported does anyone look up the appropriate camera footage at that time and place.

  30. Brian
    Boffin

    they never needed them before...

    Have children really changed so much that old fashioned teaching methods no longer work?

    I'd rather get the occasional clip around the ear than have all of my social interactions monitored and interferred with (if I were a kid).

  31. David Woods

    Human Contact

    "Teachers increasingly tend to intervene in critical situations in a policing or disciplinary role. The human to human contact is lost.”

    Such as fist-on-face human contact? I remember the good old day where the stronger pupils could make the weaker ones lives a living hell. Where will the next generation of middle-management come from if this natural human interaction is stopped?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Steve RE: Overkill

    You want to install a mains fed sprinkler system and a mains fed smoke alarm per cubicle, and you call a fake cctv camera overkill?!?

  33. Vincent
    Thumb Down

    School CCTV - Useless

    I had CTV in the school I was in just over a year ago. When there was an event of bullying (Which for whatever reason I was blamed for) they said that they weren't allowed to prove it using the CCTV anyway, so for bullying, it's useless.

    Or the teachers couldn't be bothered to investigate properly.

  34. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Down

    @vincent

    Whenever I have reported a case of bullying against my kids, I have always got the impression that the main reason the teachers won't do anything about it is down to their own fear of the alleged bully and/or their parents.

    What's easier, fobbing of the mild mannered parents of the alleged victim or dealing with the, let us say, less than reasonable, parents of the alleged bully?

  35. Sooty

    @AC

    "You seem to be under the misaprehension that all pupils at school are vandals and the assumption that they cannot act like adults at any time.

    Even if this was true there is no justification for secretly filming any child in a toilet."

    Strangely enough, the well behaved kids, you know the ones who get beaten up in the toilets everyday, probably won't object.

    This is not particularly new, it very much depends on the state of the school, but my high school, i left in 1996, had a couple of hidden cameras in the smoking spots while i was there, and was absolutely covered in cameras when i went back to get my exam results. I don't think it was anything to do with showing the parents what their kids were up to, they wouldn't care, or catching them in the act, as most were well known and constantly punished. I think it was about gathering enough hard evidence to present to the education authority to have certain kids removed and stop them being disruptive to the rest.

    The problem seems to be that "all children are entitled to an education" seems to have been taken to extremes. If they don't want it, and their parents don't care, why force them to be in a school? There just needs to be some alternative put in place to stop gangs of the feral little sh*ts plaguing the rest of us. Victorian workhouses anyone?

  36. Solomon Grundy

    @Gav and Adult Responsibility

    I quote "They don't have the rights of adults because they don't have the responsibilities of adults"

    What if I'm an extremely rich adult with no responsibilities - does that free me from the constraints of the society in which you apparently live?

    Let's say my money pays for someone to handle all my "responsibilities" to the point where I don't even have them anymore - does that mean you have the right to spy on me?

  37. dervheid
    Alert

    less than reasonable, parents of the alleged bully?

    Surely you don't mean the

    "My little Billy/Sally would NEVER do anything like that!" brigade.

    Or the

    "Oo the fuck do you fink you are, cummin roun ere accusin my Kyle/Kylie of doin summat like that? Now fuck off you nonce before I get the dog to take a bite outa your fuckin arse!" brigade.

    And we wonder why the little darlings have no fear of / respect for 'authority'? can't think where they get it from.

  38. h4rm0ny
    Paris Hilton

    How do the children feel about this?

    Has anybody asked?

    Paris - because that's what you grow up like when you're habituated to being filmed all the time.

  39. DutchOven
    Alert

    ...solution!

    Surely all the parents have to do is each make the same two requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

    1) State the dates and times when my child was taped in the last week.

    2) Provide a transcript of what my child was doing

    Of course, you'd have to pay for the information but if only 10 requests were made and paid for each week in a school, the cameras would be turned off after a fortnight...

    ...not that I'm in favour of paying these fascists to stop their naughty ways.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Just a thought

    If a child were to deliberately expose themselves on a school CCTV camera, could the school then be prosecuted for posessing dodgy images of kids?

    Black helicopter because if the school isn't watching you and your employer isn't watching you then there is one thing you can be sure of - the government IS watching you.

  41. Ash
    Stop

    I missed the part...

    ... Where they talk about installing CCTV in students toilets. Only in the first sentence, regarding a survey about installing them in a staff room, is it mentioned.

    I can tell you, as somebody who has full access to the CCTV system of a secondary school (camera hardware, remote storage server, access to camera feeds) that if they tell me to install a CCTV camera in a toilet, i'm telling them to SERIOUSLY reconsider, and if they fail i'll be sending the proposal to the PTA and the parent's e-mailing list.

    I worry that there are people out there who think this might be a GOOD idea.

  42. Michael

    @ Just a thought

    Seeing how adults can be charged for sleeping with children who lie about their age and carry false ID, it would certainly be an interesting case to try.

    I think if someone put cameras in the school toilets back home, someone (cough, not me guv) would have had them away. After all, it only needs something to cover your face, everyone wears the same uniform...

  43. Daniel

    @ Just a thought

    Well, I know that if I found out that my kids were being spied upon in the toilet, I would make it my mission to have everyone involved, from the CCTV installer to the individual members of the school board, to be charged with production of child pornography.

    Of course, I'd also be trying to sue the school very literally out of existence. I wouldn't make a secret out of my goal, either. I may not like the idea of CCTV throughout the school in general, but I absolutely draw the line at in the toilets.

    -Daniel

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    @steve

    What's wrong? What's wrong is that it only takes one moron to get two dozen innocent people soaked... DUH! Hell, why not make it a mains fed 220V and fry the little bugger?

    Sure, thrash them all!

    Next thing you know,it will be IF all over again....ok, I'm an old git. Getting my coat and going now.

  45. ElFatbob

    @Daniel

    Ditto.

  46. Chad Larson

    @Anonymous Coward and @Scott Thomson

    "If I was a teacher"

    I believe you meant to say "If I were a teacher". Or didn't you pay attention in class?

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    should not be allowed

    I would probably rather be filmed sitting on a toilet than checking my teeth or looking for sweat marks under my arms in the mirror.

    People still need privacy in a bathroom even if they are not sitting on a toilet.

    It's ridiculous.

    Filming people all the time means that they are not free to relax and be themselves. People are going to have to watch their behaviour and act like robots, even in places where you would expect some degree of privacy. (what they want)

    Maybe someone wants to have a fly pick of their nose at the back of the classroom, or pull their underwear out of their ass cheeks? Now there is no place to do that, as having it caught on film, stored god knows where and watched by god knows who is (again) probably worse than someone catching you in real-time then forgetting about it.

    Oh my God I can't believe they're actually doing this..

    It doesn't matter if you have nothing to hide. (lets face it, most people do, it's just that it's not illegal stuff)

    This kind of mass surveilance creates a stressful environment and a paranoid feeling at the very very least. Children more than ever need to be treated with the tiniest bit of respect, please. They are already branded knife wielding hooded thugs on the street, now you are onto them in the classroom when they are 8 years old ?

    I swear to God the next thing will be cameras in people's houses.

  48. KenBW2

    Back in the day

    Ok, it was 5 years ago. I was suspended for taking photos of teachers and posting them to the net. Now look

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Babes in our charge

    They're kids, not adults.

    We don't care about the privacy of babies, so why do we care about the privacy of children?

    Young people (aged between 15-23) are the main cause of crime, and the police are mainly baby-sitters who spend most of their time chasing after them.

    Until kids develop their frontal cortex and become responsible adults (sadly, some never do) I say we watch them closely every second of the day. After all, we are responsible for them.

  50. david

    kids don't matter anyway - another cop-out

    Have you seen the conditions in the student toilets? Have they changed at all since my day? But do the staff care? No, they use the staff toilets.

    If they got rid of the staff toilets, there would be basic supervision of the students in the student toilets, misbehaviour would not be tolerated, maintenance would be adequate, and CCTV would be unnecessary.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can see it now.

    "I got you on the cctv. You know what you were doing. Now give me your lunch money all this week or it's going to the head, your parents and anyone else I can think of."

    Of course it doesn't matter that the bully is making it up or that he has no idea what his victim was doing, fear is all that matters. CCTV is a big bullying tool and I don't doubt that school bullies are already making the most of it.

  52. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Schools have money for cameras?

    Wonders will never cease.

    OTOH, perhaps that's why the kids all go on to do meejah studies rather than english literature; they know all about video but have never seen a book.

  53. Aetyr
    Black Helicopters

    @ Andy Turner

    "If they want to be treated like adults, act like them too."

    Thanks Andy, you made me chuckle on an otherwise stressful day.

    They are not adults, and the issue is not to treat them like adults. The issue is to treat them like humans. Which they are, whether they're unruly due to bad parenting skills, or perfectly well behaved little automotons, or some more healthy option somewhere in between.

    If teachers want CCTV in schools to protect the school and its pupils and staff, then the classroom is just as important a place for them to be protected. And of course, if the teachers are being as well-behaved and 'adult' as you suggest, then they should have nothing to worry about, right?

    Don't get me wrong, I hate the whole idea - we're already headed for 1984 in this country waaaaay too fast for my liking, but if teachers really want CCTV in schools, they can't expect to be immune to it themselves.

    I think we'd have a much more fair and truly 'civilised' society if anyone who wanted to set up some form of surveillance or monitoring on the general public had to agree to be monitored by the same system and to the exact same extent themselves. Then there'd be a real reason to make sure these things only came into place when they really needed to, and for the right reasons.

  54. Dave

    Whats the point

    of cathcing them breaking school rules when if you try to enforce them you end up in the high court because expulsion is discriminating and interfereing with their rights.

    We're using technology instead of asking the question, why do youg people no longer respect the authority of the teachers, or anyone else?

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Serious stuff

    Usually I find something funny in these columns, but it is difficult in this case.

    I am currently engaged in a condition survey of schools in a London Borough. All the schools have CCTV and they need it, however none have cameras in the toilets and there is good reason. Firstly there is the sensitivity to privacy secondly is the security of the recordings which I find to be below a reasonable standard. I can foresee the possibility of something recorded on the school CCTV appearing on U tube or worse. If that should happen shit and fan would come close together.

    In any case CCTV is the least of the worries as far as toilet privacy is concerned. The windows in older building are frequently standard sill height and whilst the frosted glass gives the superficial appearance of privacy from the inside, as you will all remember, from the outside this is not the case and you can see everything. Woe betide any teacher using the cubicle next to the window!

    As to whether schools should find the money for CCTV, the fact is they do. It may well be an insurance issue. One of the schools surveyed was completed in 1957 and still has the completely original toilets in full use. And here comes the joke "why should anyone want to record the fact of kids using 50 year old toilets?"

  56. Susan Ottwell

    Shared Toilets

    I saw this first-hand attending a small 4-room school, with two toilets, an office and a kitchen. The principal was the 7/8th grade teacher. The hall was the cafeteria; everybody (including the teachers) took their chairs out at lunchtime to the long table built against the window side of the hall and got their lunch from the kitchen window at the end of the hall.

    Then they added an extension, consisting of a teacher's lounge and toilets. The teachers took turns supervising lunch while the rest ate in the teacher's lounge. The teachers took turns supervising the schoolyard during recess.

    Immediately harassment and bullying became epidemic, there was smoking, drugs and sex in the student bathrooms. And the teacher "on duty" made it very clear that they resented not being with their buddies in the lounge. The last two years I spent in that small-town school were pure hell.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Fantasy as reality.

    Maybe the teachers are afraid of the "Pedofinder General", out of the BBC3 "Dust Monkey" adult cartoon.

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