Nurseries seek advice on nativity photograph bans

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Two primary schools have banned parents from taking photographs and videos of children taking part in nativity plays following training sessions run by their local authority on child protection issues. Staff from LEA nursery schools and nursery classes in primary schools in Rochdale, Lancashire, were invited to recent training sessions on a wide range of child protection issues.

Two primary schools have banned parents from taking photographs and videos of children taking part in nativity plays following training sessions run by their local authority on child protection issues.

Staff from LEA nursery schools and nursery classes in primary schools in Rochdale, Lancashire, were invited to recent training sessions on a wide range of child protection issues.

A spokesman from Rochdale Metropolitan Council confirmed, 'As a result, we know that a couple of schools in the area have banned photographs and filming of children.'

Ann Tipton, head of the learners' and young people's service, said, 'The decision about whether to allow the use of photography or filming of school events rests only with the governors of each school. Rochdale council has not directed any school about what action they should take. During a recent meeting, headteachers were advised of the need for each school to decide its own policy. Some schools, both before and after this meeting, have taken the decision not to allow the use of cameras, having consulted with parents of children at the school.'

In Scotland, West Dunbartonshire local authority has recently introduced a new policy covering photography and filming on local authority premises, stating that individuals may not be photographed without their consent, and that written consent is required from parents of children under 12 and vulnerable adults.

However, a spokeswoman stressed that there would be exemptions and cases would be considered individually. She said, 'Consent will not be required, as nativity plays are not deemed to breach the privacy conditions of this new council policy.'

Earlier this year Bristol City Council issued guidance to all local authority schools and nurseries on filming and photography at school events, after the Bristol Evening Post slammed 'barmy guidelines' that banned them from publishing photographs of a school concert staged by 1,000 six- to 11-year-olds from 31 schools.

Following advice from the council that parental permission is needed before children can be photographed, the organisers of the concert imposed a blanket ban on photography because they did not have time to contact every parent for written consent.

A spokesman for Bristol City Council said, 'What the LEA has proposed is an "opt-out system" whereby schools contact parents and carers once a year and advise them that if they have concerns about their child being photographed or filmed, they should advise the school that they do not want their child to take part. Ultimately, under Local Management of Schools it is a decision for individual schools and headteachers.'

Surrey County Council has posted guidance on the use of videos and photographs on its website. A spokesperson said that although the council follows DfES guidance, the final decision rests with the school or nursery.

The council's guidance includes the recommendation that, 'School staff should be prepared to quiz anyone they do not recognise who is using a camera or video recorder at events and productions, and information regarding this possibility should be included in the school's own consent form, and/or any event tickets sold.'

Tom Flint of zero14plus (Devon EYDCP) said he advises teachers and nursery owners to obtain full written permission from parents and carers . 'In the consent form, nurseries and schools must be explicit about the use of photos or videos - for example, explain if it is going to be sent to the media or be used in promotional leaflets or for staff training. In an increasingly litigious society, the consequences could be serious for those who don't treat an individual's privacy with respect.'

The National Day Nurseries Association has just published guidance on the Nurseries Helpline section of its website. It states that, 'As a matter of good practice, nurseries should consult with parents on allowing the videoing and photography of nativity plays and other nursery events by parents/carers and family members.' It suggests that a simple way to do this is to put up a note to parents on the noticeboard.

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