More than a third of teachers would try body cameras to help clamp down on disruptive kids, a survey reveals.
Many staff believe the technology would provide evidence of bad behaviour in classrooms as a basis for disciplinary decisions.
Two thirds of teachers told researchers whey would feel safer wearing the equipment.
And almost 11% believe the time will come when bodycams – already undergoing trials at two British schools – are compulsory.
NASUWT union chief Chris Keates said: “This is an issue which is fraught with difficulty, not least in relation to safeguarding pupils and also the safety and security of staff.
“If the purpose of wearing bodycams is to tackle discipline, then using a camera in and of itself doesn’t prevent violent or poor pupil behaviour.
“Similarly, if it is for the purposes of supporting school improvement, you don’t need a camera for teachers to be able to realise when pupils are engaged or disengaged in their learning.”
Reasons teachers gave Times Educational Supplement researchers for not wanting to wear cams included concerns over privacy, or the potential for misuse by management.
The two schools involved in the pilot are not being named so as not to interfere with the trial. Parents have been told.
Teachers wearing the equipment are given the option of using the cameras to film when necessary, according to Tom Ellis, of Portsmouth University’s Institute of Criminal Justice Studies.
“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. “It’s important people realise they are only incident-specific. The cameras are not on all the time.
“Where there is a perceived threat to a member of staff or pupil, for example, they are used. It’s not like a surveillance camera.”
Daniel Nesbitt, research director of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, criticised the pilot project.
Schools need to be careful how they use the technology because it “risks turning teachers into snoopers”, he insisted.
Police in London have seen a drop in complaints against officers seen they began wearing cameras.
The Met started equipping thousands of frontline officers with bodycams in October, with other forces around the country planning a similar roll-out.
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.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said the trial is “a matter for the schools”.
FOR – By a former teacher, who did not wish to be identified
A camera gives immediate verification of an incident without bias from either side – the camera is neutral.
If kids know a teacher is wearing one, it could help prevent them kicking off in the first place. It would be a better form of deterrent than punishments such as detentions, which pupils can also just not turn up for. And it is also irrefutable evidence for a parent who could otherwise dispute it.
It would also provide protections for teachers and potentially a redress in law.
AGAINST – By Mary Bousted, association of teachers and lecturers , association of teachers and lecturers
All schools should be safe places for pupils and staff.