It is estimated that around 80-85% of schools have some form of CCTV. It helps to safeguard children and it helps teachers keep an eye on behaviour.
But what about teachers wearing body cameras? Is that a step too far? First steps must always be focused on staff training to build supportive school cultures based on firm boundaries and compassion. But this is hard-won in some schools and staff need back-up. They need technology to help them too.
Some will say that teachers are not police officers but this shows a fundamental lack of understanding of what being a teacher is all about. Teaching is multidimensional and incorporates many jobs and so that means wearing many hats.
Teachers have to monitor behaviour and deal with lots of incidents where children have stepped out of line. They have to intervene and they have to police. So, yes, teachers are police officers. It’s one of the many jobs teachers do apart from being a social worker, counsellor, motivational coach, comedian, actor, fundraiser, fire fighter and more.
The idea that CCTV and bodycams turns schools into prisons is again misguided and melodramatic. Some say that wearing bodycams can even escalate some situations – true but then so can other strategies and this hardly amounts to a reason for not using them.
Even where schools have good behaviour policies, things happen and the all-important evidence needs to be captured.
Body cameras are needed. They are not needed everywhere but they should be made available as a choice.
Tom Bennett, the UK’s school behaviour tsar is cautious and thinks they risk turning students into suspects. However, he also thinks that they could also be appropriate for use in schools where violence is more common.
And that’s the point. If they fit your context and culture then you should be able to use them. Where violence is a very real part of the community and this spills into the school then bodycams are definitely useful.
But then I still believe they have a role to play for preventing low-level behavioural issues. They provide valuable evidence and can resolve conflict and arguments.
Let’s be clear – staff are attacked by students too and so a bodycam would be extremely useful to use as evidence.
They can of course get in the way of relationships because pupils will feel like they are being watched but they are being watched anyway.
Bodycams would be particularly useful for lunchtime supervisors and for playground duties as monitoring behaviour at hot points in the day is always more challenging.
According to a Times Educational Supplement (TES) poll, over a third of teachers (37.7%) said they would be prepared to wear a bodycam in school. If bodycams make staff and pupils feel safer then they shouldn’t be opposed as some sort of Orwellian nightmare. This is about keeping everyone safe.
Staff can use bodycams to protect themselves in difficult and vulnerable situations. They can also be a useful tool to help parents and carers see how their children behave in school.
Watch Headteacher of Passmores Academy Vic Goddard talks about school staff using body cameras to record bad behaviour.