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Freddy’s coming for you… CCTV Surveillance in Schools

The main justification for installing CCTVs is to protect children… (Perry-Hazan and Birnhack 2016, p.423)

Currently in Australia, cameras are not allowed inside the class room. However, they are used in the school grounds and surrounding areas. Having the cameras outside a person may note that it is more for security of the buildings and to potentially scare off those whom wish to harm the students; but a camera in the classroom? Surely the sole purpose of that is to watch the children and that’s abhorrent and a breach of civil rights!

During actual teaching hours, a teacher is largely unmonitored and it can be difficult to get feedback on how to improve and become better teachers. It might be hard to believe but teachers want to teach, and they want to teach well. After three – four years of study it might be a little daunting to be thrown into a ravenous pit of eleven year olds with nothing more that a few weeks of practice. Any way that a teacher can review their own work is surely for the good of the school body.

 

In this video teachers discuss ways in which the surveillance of the classroom has helped in their ability to teach, ranging from self-assessment, picking up when students are not engaging with the teaching; all this with the added bonus that if a teacher so wishes they can review the footage together, and nut out problems as a team. It’s just one way to take a bit of the pressure off from the teaching staff.

 

Other benefits from the use of CCTV surveillance technologies include:

 

CCTV in Schools 2016 - R. Williams

CCTV in Schools 2016 – R. Williams

Like any new technology it is marked with skepticism and fear. Some preschools and childcare centres are already using surveillance in the classroom. Every day I receive an update of what my child is doing in class. It’s always something simple; a few photos and a cheesy blurb.

It also comes with an app. that I can use to login and view all the photos.

Screen Shot Kindyhub App - R. Williams

Screen Shot Kindyhub App – R. Williams

 

Besides surveillance in school isn’t anything new, take the School of the Air for example:

The Alice Springs School of the Air has been completely reliant on using satellite technology to conduct classes since 2006. REACT (Remote Education and Conferencing Tool) is the most powerful learning platform and provides the video-conferencing interface for all students. Email is also a significant tool for distributing and receiving course work and the use of web tools such as Google Sites, Edmodo and Dropbox is also allowing innovation in teaching and learning to take place. (Alice Springs School of the Air n.d.)

This technology allows teachers and students to record sessions and reflect back on them later. Wilson from Katherine School of the Air states that the footage can be recorded and is used for, ‘…teachers to review the effectiveness of their lesson (self reflection and feedback) and for hard to teach concepts for students to refer back to.’ (2016), students also had this option available to them, but it is not something that is expected, as they use the same software.

The use of CCTV in schools is just one form of surveillance, but many others have been used through time, such as the roll call and general reporting. CCTV and other digital means are just the new thing, is it really something we should be afraid of? Realistically it’s just a tool, and like anything its effectiveness relies in the hands of the user.

 

References

Alice Springs School of the Air n.d. ‘FAQs’ retreived 17/8/16, <http://www.assoa.nt.edu.au/the-school/faqs/>.

Perry-Hazan, L, & Birnhack, M 2016, ‘Privacy, CCTV, and School Surveillance in the Shadow of Imagined Law’, Law & Society Review, vol. 50, no. 2, pp. 415-449.

Wilson, S 2016, personal correspondence.

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6 Comments

  1. Phuong Anh August 26, 2016

    Hi Rob,
    I really enjoy your blog post and I can see that you are actually care about this issue and prepare for it through your tweet in the end of July. In my country, we do not have CCTV in our class or even the surrounding area. It could be existing in private school but definitely not in public school. After reading your blog, it makes me concern about the surveillance and the safety in my old school. CCTV in class also can help to develop the quality of teaching method and help the engagement of student. However, I hope to see you using the Creative Commons for your image in the next blog. Great job!
    Phuong Anh

    • Robert Williams August 28, 2016 — Post Author

      Hey Phuong, cheers for the positive remarks. I couldn’t find any images that suited, there were some of schools, but I didn’t want to use anything that showed a child; even from far away I thought why do something that I wouldn’t want someone else to do.

  2. Sarah Cayless August 19, 2016

    Hi Rob,
    Thank-you for your insightful view on this topic. You’ve written a really interesting blog and seem to be enthusiastic about surveillance in schools, particularly around innocent kids.
    I loved how you’ve gone to the effort of including images and visual content into your work. All of the visual content seems to be a similar size and isn’t overly distracting in that sense. An anecdote is always a great touch to a blog, and I appreciate the fact you have included one of yours (kindyhub). However, I would recommend writing a little bit more about how this type surveillance makes you feel (ie. These images of your young child are still on the web, do you think a username and password justifies this?, etc)
    Just a tip; keep an eye on how many words are in each of your sentences. I found with the second paragraph up from the bottom of your blog, I lost the point of the second sentence. I do acknowledge there is a quote in the sentence, however 65 words is a bit too long. Try aiming for 20-25 words per sentence.

    Overall, I’m impressed. Great effort, Rob!
    Sarah

    • Robert Williams August 21, 2016 — Post Author

      Hey Sarah,

      Thanks for the feedback. Most of the photos we are sent are of Lindsay by herself, with the only group ones the kids are facing away. I did want to share these, but I wasn’t sure if, according to CC, I was able to. So I figured I’d give it a miss. I’ve always been bad with run on sentences and ‘hand in the cookie jar’, I didn’t proof this post as much as I probably should have.

  3. Hannah August 18, 2016

    I can tell this is a topic of interest to you Rob. I enjoyed your post as it looked at the topic in a different viewpoint compared to others that I’ve read. The embedded video supported and added to your written content and I enjoyed your personal reflection on how your daughter’s kindy uses surveillance. I’m impressed that you went a step further to seek correspondence from the School of the Air! Overall a really impressive piece, I’ll definitely be back to read more from you!

    PS – Not sure if you watched it but on ABC a few months back there was a doco series called ‘Revolution School’. Many of the teachers had their lessons recorded and monitored to get feedback similar to the process in the video you provided. I think it’s an excellent feedback method when done honestly.

    • Robert Williams August 19, 2016 — Post Author

      Hey Hannah,

      You nailed it. I saw a lot of schools when I was a kid and my partner has been a teacher for 15 years, as a result I have fairly strong views about education. We as a society are quick to medicate kids but CCTV is so deplorable? One big problem is some people believe the world of their kids and think everyone is out to get them. The ‘eye in the sky’ is an unbiased observer.

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