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Purely hypothetical question.

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by knitone, Jul 29, 2015.

  1. knitone

    knitone Lead commenter

    Since traffic is slow, I wondered if anyone would mind answering the following hypothetical question:

    Imagine that you come across a student smoking, or vaping, on school premises during school hours. Would you be allowed to take a photo of said student using your own phone for the purposes of identification and proof, supposing that you turned the phone over to SLT immediately afterwards?

  2. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Not easy to give an answer to a question like that because there's no national rule that says you can and no national rule that says you can't. It would all be down to how the head interpreted the general safeguarding principles and what was acceptable professional behaviour. Your own school could have something in its own policies prohibiting this, in which case obviously it's not allowed in your school.

    If you think it's a good idea in your school best thing would be to get it expressly included in the appropriate school policy that you can do that.
  3. knitone

    knitone Lead commenter

    Thank you, Rott Weiler. I will check during training day.
  4. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    If you feel that as a professional adult (I presume you are a teacher) that your school management would not accept your word as sufficient evidence that a student had been smoking/vaping then I would not bother leaving myself open to some petty accusation regarding your use of a mobile phone to provide "evidence". Leave them to sort their own school problems out, keep your head down and find a better school where common sense prevails.
  5. Dragonlady30

    Dragonlady30 Star commenter

    What she said ^^^^^ !!

    I just find it so sad that anyone would have to think that they would need photographic proof because their word might not be believed. How very, very sad!
  6. misterroy

    misterroy New commenter

    and how often will a pupil turn around and say, "It was not me " . Not much argument with a pic, I like the idea, even for efficiency it gives the system for dealing with the pupil. An email home with the pic would avoid any denials at home too.
  7. newposter

    newposter Occasional commenter

    Just don't do it. SLT won't back you up, parents won't either. Turn the other cheek.
  8. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    I agree with those who say do not take photos. If you saw it, the management should back you up. If they don't then find a better place to work. By taking a photo, you are creating other potential problems such as angry parents. It just is not worth it.
  9. kittylion

    kittylion Senior commenter

    I agree that it's probably safer not to take photos but sometimes I have wished I could do so because I didn't know the pupil concerned and he/she wouldn't give their names - or gave false ones. This would be my concern rather than my word not being believed.
  10. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    Many schools insist pupils carry a homework diary or other type of booklet with their name on it - I used to insist that a pupil misbehaving whom I didn't know showed me that. Otherwise I'd march them to the office as the staff there know all the pupils, esp. those most likely to misbehave!
  11. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    If the pupil is not bothering you, then look the other way. What the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve over.
  12. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Just check their name tape . . . assuming they have followed uniform policy.

    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, where she answers jobseeking and careers queries regularly each week.
  13. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    Keep yourself safe first, do not take photographs of students on your personnel mobile phone. It could lead to all sorts of allegations.

    Being given a false name by a smoking student is not the worst thing in the World. I'm not sure I would agree with the "looking away" advise though. The kids need to know that at least they are being watched.
  14. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    I wouldn't take a picture whatsoever, but looking the other way on school grounds is unacceptable as well.

    Ask for their homework planner/diary. If they do not have it, then escort them back to the school office. I appreciate that in a new job, you may feel awkward or uncomfortable, but stand your ground (without any danger to yourself).

    As an ex-smoker myself, there is something even more vivid than a picture - the smell of cigarettes on the person's fingers and/or clothes, so a picture may not be needed anyway. As for vaping, I have no knowledge of any smells (I quit cold turkey after suffering a very bad bout of bronchitis over Christmas), so can't advise.

    Of course, another idea would be to have cameras installed (as a security measure) where there might be a blind side, e.g. near the bike rack, other side of sports grounds where it could be argued on health and safety grounds as well.

    best wishes
  15. knitone

    knitone Lead commenter

    Thank you for all the comments and suggestions - especially the bit about checking the name tapes! I think, on balance, that taking a picture of a student is not a good idea, so will not be doing it. We do have CCTV, but the quality of the pictures is not the best and there are many blind spots. Looking the other way is not an option, as my mouth acts without taking orders from my brain . . .
  16. kittylion

    kittylion Senior commenter

    "I lost my planner - no I won't show you what's in my bag" (runs away)

    "I'm not coming with you anywhere!" (runs away - if he/she hasn't done so already).

    "No you can't look in the back of my blazer - are you a paedo or what?" (runs away)

    Not being deliberately difficult - I have thought of these ideas myself and this is the sort of thing that happens. This is why, although condemning the idea, I understand those who are tempted to take a photo.

  17. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    In each of these scenarios the pupil has both compounded his/her offence and, should they deny smoking, have given other reasons why they should be severely punished. In the 3rd case, for example, I would expect an exclsuion at the very least (false accusation etc.)
  18. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    I've been in a school where behaviour of that kind was blamed on the staff for not handling the situation in an appropriate manner. The school in question was a discipline-free zone and thanks to parents voting with their feet it is now closed.
  19. kittylion

    kittylion Senior commenter

    When you finally identify and catch up with them maybe ... but you end up looking so lame at the time.

    If we were allowed to just ask their name once, let them refuse and then "OK - click" - end of matter for you - just pass on the photo and your report - imagine how empowering that would be? Only of course, not allowed because of safeguarding I know.

    As I said, I can understand the temptation to take a photo.
  20. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    If it was written into your behaviour policy, then, yes you could do this.

    But to follow your approach to what if...

    'You ask pupils their name; they refuse to tell you, you take a picture, pupil shouts to his (or her) friends 'Hee, this paedo has just taken my photo' and they attack you to seize and destroy your camera, before pushing you over an running away...'

    Personally I would simply approach it as I suggested earlier, definitely not run after the pupil if they run off, and make sure I can identify the pupil from the photos the school will have on record.

    If the school doesn't believe me on this matter, I would simply not bother to enforce their rules again whilst looking for another job elsewhere.

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