TikTok videos a ‘kick in the teeth’ for teachers

Councils should publicly condemn the use of TikTok to target school staff, says Scottish headteachers' organisation

Emma Seith

TikTok videos ‘kick in the teeth’ for teachers

Scotland’s secondary school leaders organisation is calling on councils to condemn the use of TikTok to target staff.

School Leaders Scotland (SLS) has described some of the videos posted by pupils as “poisonous” and “nasty”.

SLS issued advice to its members on dealing with offensive TikTok posts this week, after the number of concerns being raised “increased substantially”.

Background: 'Appalling' teacher abuse videos evade TikTok action

Guidance: You're in a TikTok video – what should you do next?

Abusive content: Spike in online teacher abuse sparks hotline surge

It said that around 30 school leaders had been in touch so far this month after staff members appeared in videos on the social media platform.

SLS field officer Neil Shaw told Tes Scotland that some videos featuring teachers posted on the platform were “lighthearted”, but others were “pretty nasty” and some local authorities were not providing their schools with “an appropriate level of support”.

Mr Shaw said: “There is some pretty nasty stuff out there – there’s homophobic stuff and stuff suggesting teachers are perverts or paedophiles.

“We would like to see councils going a bit more public with their concerns to make their staff feel supported.

“This is the last thing that teachers in schools need at the moment given the 20 months they have had.

“The job has been hard enough for everyone in schools – it’s been a dreadful time for them [during Covid] and they have been superb, but this is a kick in the teeth.”

Earlier this month, the Department for Education in England said it was working with TikTok to tackle videos posted by students that insult teachers. The move came after school leaders raised concerns over a TikTok trend in which teachers and leaders were being impersonated using pictures pulled from school websites.

According to Mr Shaw, the videos in Scotland mainly involve teachers being secretly filmed either in classrooms or corridors, with voices dubbed over the top.

“Some of this stuff isn’t malicious or vindictive but a significant amount is far more unpleasant and some staff are feeling targeted by it and they are, understandably, angry, upset and stressed,” said Mr Shaw.

SLS is advising its members to contact their council if they have “serious concerns” and also to report inappropriate content via the Professional Online Safety Helpline

In England, the Association of School and College Leaders and the NAHT school leaders' union have suggested that an education portal should be created by TikTok, staffed by a dedicated education team, that schools can contact.

Responding to concerns about content targeting teachers, TikTok has said that “hateful behaviour, bully[ing] and harassment have no place on TikTok” and that it regrets “the distress caused to some teachers as a result of abusive content posted on our platform”.

It pointed to "additional technical measures and guidance" and said it "continues to proactively detect and remove violative content and accounts".

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

Latest stories

Girl doing the splits

10 features of a flexible classroom

A flexible, empathetic environment can work wonders for learning. Ginny Bootman offers her tips on how to achieve it
Ginny Bootman 30 Nov 2021
Early years: Why our broken EYFS system is failing

Why early years funding increases still fall short

An experienced early years head explains why 21p per hour funding increases don't go far enough for a sector that feels it is continually overlooked when the cash is handed out
Dr. Lesley Curtis 30 Nov 2021