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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 July, 2003, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Unions object to 'spy' cameras
Teaching unions have protested at plans to install CCTV cameras in a new city academy school.

The Vardy Foundation, which is sponsoring the King's Academy, in Middlesbrough, said they would protect teachers from "unwarranted accusations" of abuse by pupils and safeguard expensive computer equipment.

But unions warned staff would see the cameras as an intrusion.

The Vardy Foundation, set up by car dealership millionaire and evangelical Christian Sir Peter Vardy, has put 2m into the academy, which opens in September.

Teachers working with us in Middlesbrough have been involved and informed of what is going on
David Vardy

The foundation's first city academy, Emmanuel College, in Gateshead, was embroiled in controversy last year after it emerged that science teachers taught the biblical "creationist" theory of the origin of humanity as well as Darwinian evolution.

King's Academy will take a strict approach to uniforms and discipline and, although it is not officially a faith school, it will have a strong Christian ethos.

NASUWT general secretary Eamonn O'Kane said: "I think many teachers will have serious misgivings because they will find it an intrusion of their working space and feel they are being monitored."

John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers said: "Anything to do with school security has got to be done with the agreement of staff.

"The existence of CCTV cameras in classrooms is no guarantee of security.

"The critical issue is, can the teacher get the support they need when they need it, not whether there is a camera watching what's going on."

Teacher security

City academies are seen by the Government as one of the best ways of reviving education in England's inner cities where existing state schools have failed.

They are not allowed to charge fees, but are effectively outside the mainstream state system as the sponsor - often a private company - takes over the running.

David Vardy, the foundation's projects director and brother of Sir Peter, denied the cameras were for "spying" on teachers.

He said: "We decided, for the security of the teacher against unwarranted accusations, that having closed circuit television in these spaces was something to be desired.

"Teachers working with us in Middlesbrough have been involved and informed of what is going on.

"We didn't need to install CCTV to watch teachers teaching."

Spy cameras in every class
25 Jul 03  |  Education
'Creationist' schools attacked
28 Apr 03  |  Education

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