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'More than one in three' teachers willing to wear body camera in classroom

More than a third of teachers would be willing to wear a body camera in the classroom, with many wanting the technology to combat misbehaviour by pupils, according to a survey.

Over one in 10 believe the time will come when bodycams will be mandatory in UK schools, the poll found.

The findings came as it was revealed body-worn cameras are being used in two schools as part of a trial to deal with unruly students.

Tom Ellis, a criminal justice researcher, told The Guardian all classroom teachers in two state secondaries were using the devices during the three-month experiment.

In total over a third of teachers (37.7%) said they would be prepared to wear a bodycam in school, according to the Times Educational Supplement (TES) survey.

Of these, 35.1% said their main reason would be to monitor and obtain evidence of student behaviour, while 31.6% said it was for the safety of the teacher or students.

Among those who were not willing to use the technology, reasons included concerns about their own privacy and that of the children, as well as feeling spied on, or the potential for misuse by management.

Mr Ellis, of Portsmouth University's Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, told The Guardian teachers at the schools involved in the pilot are being given the option of using the cameras to film "when necessary".

"Most schools now have some level of problems with low-level background disorder in classrooms and the teachers have become quite fed up with not being able to teach," he said.

The two schools are not being named so as not to interfere with the trial and parents have been fully informed, Mr Ellis said.

"It's important people realise they are only incident-specific," he added.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said the trial is "a matter for the schools".

Criminal justice expert Alex Sutherland said there were a number of issues surrounding the use of cameras in school which need to be considered.

There may be other methods for helping to reduce unruly behaviour, he suggested, for example, among those who are statistically most likely to be excluded.

Schools need to ask what else is going on in the classroom that can be changed, Dr Sutherland said.

"What approach can be used differently? Teaching assistant deployment is one area, or training teachers in classroom management."

Dr Sutherland, of the RAND Europe research institution, also said one international study suggests the time teachers in the UK spend on administration and classroom management is comparable to some other nations, such as Sweden.

And he said consideration needs to be given to when and how teachers use body cameras - for example one teacher is likely to have a different threshold for turning on the device from another, as well as the cost to schools of obtaining and storing footage.

"It's a personal view that maybe cameras are not the right fit for this problem, because we can't expect children and young people to behave perfectly all the time," Dr Sutherland added.

The Metropolitan Police began equipping thousands of frontline officers with body-worn cameras in October, with other forces around the country planning a similar roll-out.

A study published last autumn concluded that a n increase in the use of body cameras by police has led to a huge drop in complaints made against officers, research shows.

The University of Cambridge research, which involved four police forces, found a 93% decrease in complaints made against officers clearly wearing the cameras, which record what happens during police incidents, compared with the previous year.

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