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Last Updated:  Monday, 24 February, 2003, 16:02 GMT
'Big Brother' plan to catch rowdy pupils
Plans are being made to install webcams in classrooms in an effort to discourage misbehaviour by pupils.

Manchester City Council has applied for a government grant to install the cameras in five schools.

It says the camera footage would be an eye-opener for some parents who did not believe what their children got up to.

The city's chief education officer, Mick Waters, said the council was not trying to catch out teachers who were having trouble maintaining discipline.


The move was aimed at the disruptive 1% who showed no respect for their teachers or fellow pupils.

"They don't listen, they may talk out of turn," Mr Waters said.

"They hinder other people, they are noisy and they don't work when they are asked, disturbing other people's learning.

"Parents who don't usually see their children in school can find it difficult to believe some examples of their children's behaviour.

"Children will do best in school if they behave well and we are trying to work with these parents to make their children behave better."

Wider programme

A council spokesperson said the schools that would be monitored had not been selected.

The details of the installation had also yet to be worked out.

Cameras using web technology would probably be used in preference to closed circuit television (CCTV) systems, being cheaper and less obtrusive.

There was no suggestion of publishing the images on the internet, however, she said.

A "small scale" bid for funding from the Department for Education had been made as part of a wider initiative aimed at improving behaviour, involving Manchester and a number of other authorities.

The council is not aware of any other areas having installed cameras.

'Big Brother' concern

One union leader said the idea smacked of "Big Brother" and would make teachers feel uneasy, despite the insistence that they were not the ones being spied on.

Eamonn O'Kane of the NASUWT classroom union said the "Big Brother" aspect of the idea troubled him, but with the widespread use of CCTV it was perhaps inevitable.

The "brutal reality" was that some parents refused to accept their children behaved badly and needed convincing.

But it might be better to invest more in special units for disruptive children.

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"The investigation has taken on an added urgency"

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