Teachers based at two schools across the UK are to trial wearing body cameras in the classroom, according to a Times Education Supplement (TES) report.

Similar technology has been adopted by schools throughout the US, while the move can also be tied to this strategy, whereby both Greater Manchester Police and the Metropolitan Police Service have successfully introduced body-worn video technology through new helmet designs and the use of vest-mounted cameras.

Early ideas into how the technology would be implemented into UK schools are still being considered at both unnamed educational establishments, though one plan is that the scheme would see teachers wearing the cameras on their clothes. The devices would be filming at all times, but incidents can only be recorded, and encrypted footage saved, once a switch on the devices is activated.

Because of this design, all teachers who take part in the trial would be advised to switch their cameras to recording mode if they are confident that a ‘low-level’ incident is developing within their classroom. However, teachers will also be told that they will be required to give notice to their pupils before they begin a recording.

Providing reasoning behind this particular plan, Tom Ellis, a principal lecturer at the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies at Portsmouth University, pointed out: “There’s very much an emphasis on getting rid of low-level disruption or disorder in the classroom.”

Mr Ellis is especially confident that body cameras in UK classrooms can act as a deterrent, going on to explain: “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.”

There has been plenty more additional support for the introduction of body cameras in schools across the UK, if a TES poll reported on by the Independent is anything to go by.

In the survey of over 600 teachers, 37.7% expressed that they were in favour of having body cameras in operation in the classroom. Around two-thirds of those who responded to the survey went as far as to say they believed they would feel safer in their working environment with the technology, while 10.9%felt a time will come when such devices will become a compulsory feature.

Not everyone who was questioned for the poll was in support of the move though. There were a number of teachers who expressed concerns ranging from whether the technology would have detrimental effects on their own privacy and that of the children present in the classroom, to fears that the body cameras would make them feel like they are being spied on.

Mary Bousted, the general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, was also keen to state: “If schools have good behaviour policies, they should not have to resort to using body cameras or CCTV. We would not support schools being turned into prisons.”

“CCTV can have a useful role in monitoring entrances and exits to schools to prevent strangers gaining access or vandalism, but we do not support their use in schools to monitor children and staff.”

While body cameras in classrooms is a new idea for UK schools, CCTV systems have already been used to effective use at such establishments through the following guises:

Video Content Analysis systems, so that analysis of CCTV images can be carried out to provide meaningful information. For example…

  1. The identification of whether objects have been removed from a certain area of the school.
  2. The analysis of CCTV images in order to identify specific patterns, like smoke when addressing arson attacks.
  3. The ability to establish virtual tripwires that trigger an alert, should someone attempt to cross a specific boundary – eliminating the need to erect walls or fencing at these locations.

CCTV in classrooms to address issues of bullying and also assist with teacher training — for the latter, this technology can be used as an alternative to having a teaching colleague present in the classroom throughout the entire lesson.

Access control systems, such as those provided by award-winning security specialist 2020 Vision, that are specifically designed for educational establishments, so that security personnel can keep updated about who is in a facility once they have been added to turnstiles, gates and barriers throughout the institute.