British schools to introduce body cameras, TES reveals

Schools at an early stage of implementing the controversial new technology

Adi Bloom

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Two British schools are planning to use body cameras in the classroom, TES has learnt.

The schools are at an early stage of implementing the technology, according to Tom Ellis, principal lecturer at the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies at Portsmouth University.

The technology, which is already being used in a number of US schools, is worn on teachers’ clothing, allowing classroom behaviour to be recorded. Teachers switch on the camera whenever they want to record a classroom incident.

Proof of misbehaviour

“There’s very much an emphasis on getting rid of low-level disruption or disorder in the classroom,” said Mr Ellis.

He draws a comparison with the use of body cameras in the police force: “It’s largely effective with low-level public order problems.”

Body-camera footage can also be shown to children’s parents, as proof of misbehaviour. This, too, has a deterrent effect, Mr Ellis said: “It can be used for self-reflection. It can be shown back to the pupil, one on one, and that can have a positive impact without the need to resort to disciplinary process.”

But many people are concerned about the use of body cameras in the classroom. In a feature that will run in TES on Friday (10 February), Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teachers’ union, is quoted as saying: “If schools have good behaviour policies, they shouldn’t have to resort to using body cameras or CCTV. We would not support schools being turned into prisons.”

Less negative with use

Mr Ellis is unsurprised by such reactions. “When you introduce new technology, if people haven’t had experience of it already, people tend to regard it as negative, initially,” he said.

“But as they get used to it, people get less negative – they see it’s useful.”

He added that, unlike CCTV, body cameras do not record continuously. Rather, they are switched on to record specific incidents of misbehaviour.

“It’s not being shared anywhere,” said Mr Ellis, “unlike when pupils film each other and it’s shared everywhere.”

The full TES feature on body cameras will be published in TES magazine on Friday, 10 February. This week's TES magazine will be available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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Adi Bloom

Adi Bloom is Tes comment editor

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