Union warns councils over CCTV in classrooms

Teaching union warns over CCTV in classrooms.
Teaching union warns over CCTV in classrooms.

CCTV cameras should not be used by local authorities to gather data for performance management purposes, a teaching union has said.

Teachers at the 2018 Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) annual congress heard CCTV cameras had been discovered by chance in a classroom in a secondary school in North Lanarkshire.

The incident came to light seven months ago after the school’s depute head was overheard discussing a pupil being caught on camera damaging a computer.

Teachers, pupils and parents were not told about the cameras and there were no signs warning that filming was taking place.

Stuart Allison, SSTA district secretary for North Lanarkshire, told delegates that while closed circuit surveillance in corridors can help school security, it should not be in classrooms. He said: “Any attempt to use the technology for such reasons could set unnecessary, unhelpful and dangerous precedents, whereby it could be used partially and selectively, in place of already accepted, governable and more effective procedures to observe and assess a teacher’s performance.”

READ MORE: Unions call for Scottish Government to abandon Education Bill

Allison said the SSTA was contacting teachers to warn of possible similar situations and to gauge the scale of the problem.

Steve Clulow, SSTA rep for North Lanarkshire, seconding the motion, said the depute head had been unable to say who installed the cameras and signage has still to be put up. Delegates passed a motion calling on local authorities to guarantee technologies are not used to gather data for performance monitoring. They also want a designated data controlling officer to control and oversee CCTV cameras.

A spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council, said: “CCTV is used appropriately in our schools to ensure safety. However, it is not used in any case to monitor the performance of staff.”