Union takes action over filming of online lessons

A controversial parents’ group has been warned to ‘cease and desist’ from encouraging families to record teachers’ lessons

Tes Reporter

'Secretly filming online lessons is breaking the law'

Scotland’s largest teaching union has written to a controversial parents’ group, saying calls for families to film virtual lessons in a bid to “monitor” online learning are causing teachers “alarm and distress” at a time of “unprecedented stress”.

The EIS is warning the UsForThem lobby group – which has gained prominence by campaigning to keep schools open – that if it records and shares footage of teachers delivering remote lessons, it will be leaving itself open to “the possibility of legal action”.

The union adds that individuals recording and sharing footage of lessons could also be breaking the law, and that councils or other parents and pupils may decide to take action “with regard to any pupils also being recorded”.

The email sent yesterday, which was published on the EIS website, states that “recording and monitoring of individuals has a number of privacy and data protection implications”.

It continues: “It is our position that: (i) publication of footage of members’ teaching represents a breach of their right to privacy and data protection rights, and is actionable in law against UsForThem or the individual who recorded and shared the footage; and (ii) UsForThem may therefore be encouraging individuals to break the law and expose themselves to the possibility of legal action by recording and sharing footage (without permission to do so).

“Please cease and desist from calling upon your supporters to provide you with footage of home learning.

“There may be further legal implications with regard to any pupils also being recorded, although that would be for local authorities or individual parents/pupils to pursue.

“Please be aware that these actions of UsForThem are causing alarm and distress to some of our members in what is already a time of unprecedented stress and uncertainty.”

Read the EIS letter in full here.

In a post on the Us For Them Scotland Facebook page this afternoon, the organisation's Jo Bisset shares what she describes as a "response to these false allegations", and also says that "under no circumstances should recordings be solicited, taken, stored or shared".

The response to the EIS, addressed to general secretary Larry Flanagan, asks for "evidence of UsForThem Scotland encouraging the recording and distribution of online lessons".

It states: "Neither myself nor any of the other Administrators of our Facebook page have ever made that request of members.

"I have looked extensively on our Facebook page which, as you know, is our only resource when it comes to sharing information with members. I cannot find any posts making these requests but would be keen to know if you have evidence to the contrary."

The response from Us For Them Scotland adds: "We have no interest in causing alarm or distress to teachers, whom we hold in the highest regard."

An EIS spokesperson said that the union had received the reply from Us For Them Scotland, and had responded in turn by "citing a sample of the evidence" it had gathered. The EIS also "acknowledged the recent clear statement posted on [Us For Them Scotland's] Facebook page not to record online lessons".

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