MPs criticise school photos ban

By James HoreA MOVE demanding parents must grant permission for photographs to be taken of their children at school events has been branded “unnecessarily cautious”.

By James Hore

A MOVE demanding parents must grant permission for photographs to be taken of their children at school events has been branded “unnecessarily cautious”.

Essex County Council has told headteachers they should obtain blanket permission from parents for pupils to be filmed or to appear in pictures.

The new regulations are designed to bring schools into line with the Data Protection Act and protect children from paedophiles.


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But Simon Burns, the Conservative MP for West Chelmsford, said it was a sad reflection of society when people felt photographs from a nativity play could end up on a dubious Internet site.

“It does seem to me rather like taking a sledge hammer to crack a nut and very politically correct for complicated guidelines to be issued seeking 'blanket' permission for pupils to be filmed or appear in pictures,” he added.

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“Sadly, this could lead to some schools banning photography altogether, thus denying parents cherished photographs of their children in their nativity plays.”

“Clearly, action must be taken to minimise the activities of paedophiles, but as a parent myself whose children have appeared in school nativity plays, I do wonder whether this isn't being unnecessarily cautious.”

Bob Russell, the Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester, agreed: “We need to put this into perspective and for the life of me I can't see how photography at a nativity play can be viewed as something to be worried about.

“There is a happy compromise whereby at the end of the performance there is a photo opportunity available and if parents wish to remove their child, then so be it.

“We must not spoil the innocence and the joy of Christmas and all that goes with it just because out there are a few perverts, which there are, but the chances of a pervert turning up at a nativity are so remote that the school would know if somebody was in the midst who was acting oddly.”

Earlier this week, Writtle Junior School asked parents for permission for their children to be photographed at this year's nativity play and received one reply requesting a child was not pictured.

Headteacher, Gwyneth Williams, said, as a result, the school had had to consider banning all parents from photographing and filming their children.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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