Teachers at the new Stockwell Park High School in South London unveiled the latest in school surveillance equipment, demonstrating a system they say has already made a major impact on safety throughout the school. Classwatch, an audio visual system that uses software from surveillance specialist Mirasys, has been installed around the new school and promises to transform the effectiveness of security in schools across the UK. A total of 40 cameras located around the school grounds allow video recording throughout the school day.
“We are very mindful of students’ and parents’ sensitivities when it comes to having CCTV in a school environment,” said Stockwell Park head teacher, Judette Tapper. “From our point of view, the system gives teachers a real sense of security and reassurance in the case of the rare disciplinary incidents in which a student disputes the teacher’s account of events. It also helps to combat bullying and aggressive behaviour among students. We are certainly finding that the Classwatch system is a very useful tool in investigating and discouraging truancy.”
Ms Tapper acknowledged that some students initially felt uncomfortable with the recording of footage in the school, but noted that the same emotions were felt by teachers. The parents, however, were the most supportive of the project as it gave them piece of mind when sending their children off to school.
Recorded footage from classrooms and school grounds at Stockwell Park are stored for 1 calendar month before being destroyed, while access to images and footage is strictly controlled and monitored by a member of the school’s board of governors, in line with the Data Protection Act, 1998. Ms Taper added that the school considered matters relating to data security to be of the utmost importance.
Jon Hill of Mirasys UK said, “the design for Stockwell Park offers a state of art surveillance system utilizing distributed recording nodes each managing a number of high definition images. It was crucial to us that they have a resilient system teachers could rely on in order to identify the causes of trouble around the school, and to provide a record of events that was accurate and impartial. By focussing on maintaining perimeter safety with the surveillance system, teachers and students can focus more on learning in a safe environment.“
Uche Agwuegbo, a student at Stockwell Park High School, expressed that she appreciated the cameras were in the school for safety so that the students can focus on learning, “they (the cameras) reduce the acts of graffiti, violence, vandalism and theft and tell the exact story of an incident so you don’t have to listen to bags of lies.” Another student at the school, Daniel Bryan, however noted: “Cameras can be useful, but also they are an invasion of your privacy and sometimes they make me feel uncomfortable because I don’t know when someone could be watching me.”
Mirasys Ltd, established in 1997, is one of the world’s leading providers of open platform digital CCTV and video surveillance solutions. Headquartered in Helsinki, Finland with offices in the UK, Spain and Germany, it provides innovative security solutions that manage over 300,000 cameras around the world. Mirasys flagship products, NVR Pro and NVR Enterprise, protect banks, retail outlets, schools, cultural and heritage sites and various government facilities.
Classwatch® is a new way to give teachers and pupils the support they need. It is an in-class real time digital audio and visual recording system that assists teaching and professional development, provides a permanent record of best practice, helps manage behavior and offers protection for staff and pupils, and security for assets. The ICO (responsible for Data Protection) has written a set of guidelines specifically for Classwatch systems.