CCTV monitoring of teachers – a shocking catalogue of professional disrespect and unacceptable intrusion

CCTV cameras introduced in schools as a safety measure for staff and pupils are now being used to spy on teachers, a survey by the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, has found.

Around 7,500 teachers responded to the snapshot survey.

Of the teachers who reported CCTV in their classrooms, 89% said they could not switch it off and 88% said that it was constantly recording their lessons.

Over half (55%) said headteachers viewed the footage and 41% said it was being used to find evidence to form negative views about staff.

Whilst teachers who responded said that they acknowledged CCTV could enhance pupil and staff safety, a third of teachers felt that CCTV in schools was an invasion of their professional privacy, and over a quarter said they felt it does not contribute to teaching and learning.

Comments from teachers included:

•           “CCTV is open to misuse by senior management”;
•           “I was disciplined for visiting another colleague’s classroom which had been recorded on tape”;
•           “I have seen senior staff members with my head of department looking at footage in the school office. When I asked what my head of department was doing watching a colleague in this way she said she was trying to catch him out”;
•           “CCTV has been used against staff to imply they are handling a situation incorrectly even though the CCTV has no sound”;
•           “In my school it has been used specifically with newly qualified teachers that the senior leadership team think are not performing well”;
•           “The senior management team have erased CCTV when they have been caught on camera being unprofessional”;
•           “The deputy head sent me an email during a maths lesson asking me to inform pupils that he was watching them on CCTV”.

Representatives at the NASUWT’s Annual Conference will today (Sunday) debate a motion condemning the excessive monitoring of teachers in schools as disempowering and adding to their stress and workload.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“This is yet another example of how teachers are being undermined and stripped of their professionalism.

“Teachers are already wrestling with excessive monitoring, masquerading as classroom observation, carried out by senior management and a host of other people regularly visiting their classrooms.

“Now, in some schools, they are being subjected to permanent surveillance through CCTV cameras.  Lab rats have more professional privacy.

“In some cases teachers reported having their private conversations filmed when the school was not in session.

“The stories teachers recounted to us in the survey are a shocking catalogue of professional disrespect and unacceptable intrusion.

“No other professionals are subjected to such appalling treatment. No one should be subjected to the stress and pressure of being watched constantly.

“The NASUWT will support members in resisting such practices in schools where such abuse is taking place through all appropriate means, including industrial action.”

NASUWT Press Office contacts:

Ben Padley 07785 463 119
Lena Davies 07867 392 746
Amanda Williamson 07741 246202

Notes to editors:

The NASUWT’s Annual Conference is being held at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Birmingham from 18-21 April 2014.

Around 7,500 teachers responded to the survey which took place during March 2014.

The text of the motion to be debated is below:

Andrew Bennett to move,
Steve Thompson to second:
Conference believes that monitoring is excessive, continues to expand beyond any reasonable justification or value to pupil progress and that its impact is to stifle creativity in education, disempower teachers, put procedure before purpose and increase the workload of teachers.
Conference calls upon the national executive to highlight to school governors and managers their contractual duty to support a sustainable work/life balance and take account of the need for downward pressure on teachers’ workload.

Mike Grant to move,
Kim Jamson to second:
in the second paragraph:
replace ‘school governors and managers their contractual duty to support’ with ‘employers that they have a statutory duty of care, which they should exercise to secure’
replace ‘and take’ with ‘for teachers, taking’
delete ‘teachers’
Sion Reynolds to move,
John Spiegelhalter to second:
in the first paragraph:
replace ‘is excessive’ with ‘can be excessive’
after the second paragraph:
add paragraph ‘Conference instructs the National Executive to highlight to employers their legal obligations to protect the health, safety and welfare of their staff, where necessary by actively reducing stress in the workplace.’

Ben Padley,
Press and Media Officer,
Campaigns and Communications,
Hillscourt Education Centre
B45 8RS

Direct Line: 0121 457 6269
Mobile: 07785 463 119