My father is a retired teacher who spent over thirty years working with special needs children. I was recently discussing my confusion regarding the differing opinions I’d been hearing about our local schools. He stopped me in my tracks with this remark ” Darling so much bullshit is talked about schools and most of it comes from people who know bugger all about it”. The moral is don’t believe the hype. When it comes to making the choice about where to educate your kids don’t take gossip and heresay on board. Rather do the research yourself. Speak directly to the schools about any concerns you may have.
This point was illuminated for me by a piece of disgraceful journalism in you guessed it – the Murdoch press. On the 21st of October of this year a story ran in tabloid rag (The Telegraph) and the high end broadsheet (The Australian) titled “Class School Room Cameras Row in NSW”.* The article described how a handful of schools across the state are using CCTV cameras in the classroom as a teaching resource. Our local school was listed as one of those embracing the new technology.
Without consulting the school or apparently doing any research to clarify the facts, the Murdoch press proceeded to phone one of our local parents to ask their opinion. The parent was unaware of any filming in the classrooms and was “shocked” and “scared” that such a thing could be happening without her knowledge.
I made it my business to personally question the Assistant Principal about this matter. It turns out that there was darned good reason the parents had not been informed. This was because the story was a total beat up and not one CCTV camera had been turned on inside the school classrooms. Apparently the NSW School Education Director had brought a camera into the school to discuss the idea of implementing the technology at some point in the future. However as proper protocols had not yet been laid down the system had not been used. To quote the Assistant Principal ” No one even knows how to switch it on yet”.
Obviously the Murdoch press was trying to insinuate that our local school was filming children without their parents permission. This blatant piece of misinformation caused distress to many local families and irritation to the teachers. It was a hassle that the teaching executive did not need and a distraction from the very complicated business of running a good school. I was in two minds about writing this blog piece as I’m mindful of worsening the situation. However I believe that this pathetic attempt to inflame readers with such a glaring inaccuracy needs to be pointed out. In the words of Derryn Hinch – “Shame ,The Telegraph and The Australian, Shame”.
I’m led to understand that the practice of filming class rooms in common place in Hong Kong and is making inroads in the UK. At the moment a handful of NSW schools are experimenting with the technology but they certainly are not doing it without the full consent of parents.
I re-iterate, when you next find yourself in a discussion about schools make sure you’ve got a salt shaker with you as you’ll need a few grains. Most importantly of all – DONT READ THE MURDOCH PRESS.
PS: I dont mean to insinuate that News Corp is the only agency that spreads mis information. Nevertheless they do have some form in this department.