Child school photo rethink welcomed

By James HoreAN MP who called on a county council to clarify its controversial policy on parents taking photographs of children at school events has welcomed a rethink from the authority.

By James Hore

AN MP who called on a county council to clarify its controversial policy on parents taking photographs of children at school events has welcomed a rethink from the authority.

Simon Burns, the Conservative MP for West Chelmsford, had asked for the Department of Education's guidelines on the issue.

It followed controversy over the Christmas period when Essex County council sent a directive to schools recommending they obtain "blanket permission" before pupils could be filmed or appear in pictures.


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The move was designed to bring schools into line with the Data Protection Act and ensure images of youngsters did not appear on websites used by paedophiles.

However, Mr Burns said the rules had been misinterpreted and, following feedback from Department for Education, the council has revised its guidelines.

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Schools will no longer have to obtain permission and can allow pictures to be published unless a parent or carer requests their child is not photographed.

Mr Burns said the new guidelines were "realistic and sensible". He added: "The guidelines that were in place just before Christmas were over-prescriptive and did cause upset to parents.

"I am pleased that the county council has reacted in a positive way by issuing the clarification which I am sure will be welcomed by all parents and teachers alike."

Iris Pummell, cabinet member for education at the council, said: "Essex schools have a great deal to celebrate and I hope the new guidelines will make it much easier for schools and local media to do just that."

The council said the revision would make it easier for schools to publish pictures of events such as school plays and sports days. It also clarified parents will be free to film and photograph events.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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