Animated over film-maker's role

13th July 2007 at 01:00
have read the General Teaching Council's professional conduct committee hearing's report on its decision to suspend Angela Mason (pictured) after her recording material for a TV documentary (TES, July 6). I find it contradictory on its criticism of her right to record covertly, with the committee then happy to use evidence from her recordings to criticise her class management.

Paragraph 8 of the report accuses her of filming secretly, presuming this is an offence. Paragraph 27 says the GTC "asserts that secret filming of pupils undoubtedly constitutes unacceptable professional conduct", and reaffirms this in paragraph 30. It could not be clearer that the GTC does not accept secret filming.

On the other hand, the report freely admits, in paragraph 12, that Mrs Mason's filming afforded the committee "the opportunity to observe her teaching classes", which it admits is "unusual": I take this to mean unusually fortunate for the committee as it provides evidence of what occurred, rather than having to rely on witness statements. The committee is clearly happy that the film exists since it provides "most illuminating evidence", and the report states that the committee watched the broadcast three times as well as the unbroadcast rushes.

I am very uncomfortable with this approach. If the recording should not have been made, then is it acceptable for the GTC to use broadcast and non broadcast materials as evidence to criticise Mrs Mason's classroom management skills? This smacks to me of double standards.

Surely if the filming was wrong, the GTC

Icould not use its contents as evidence to condemn Mrs Mason? If filming is unacceptable, should the GTC condemn a person with the forbidden fruit? If it is fine for the GTC to use the film to condemn Mrs Mason, why is it not acceptable for her to do the same in her documentary on disruption in modern classes?

As the GTC admits, this was a difficult case for it perhaps too difficult since it uses what it condemns to condemn another.

John Porcella

PGCE student, Institute of Education, University of London

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