Filming that special lesson to share with others seems a good idea. But it’s not that simple; you will need to think about safeguarding, privacy laws and the need for parents’ permission

You can “live stream” at the click of a button these days. Apps such as Periscope and Meerkat are becoming more commonplace in the classroom. They allow you to download an app and schedule a “stream time” or start streaming straight away. (Streaming, for those who don’t know, means videoing what is going on around you and sharing it online in real time.)

This allows teachers and pupils from around the world to interact on a particular topic, including asking questions and watching a class in action, all live, all as-it-happens.

This could develop children’s learning. It could be used to share best practice or allow mentoring for new teachers. It could help those who may need to brush up on their skills by watching a master in action. It is a way of getting real time feedback to improve/share your practice.

Live streaming can also be used for the wider community – for example, sharing a school event with parents who can’t attend.

It sounds great. But there are dangers.

Before live streaming you are often reminded that you should share your location wisely, and consider if you want a public or private stream [that is, one that everyone can see or one only open to an invited audience]. You should also be cautious of streaming from your pocket if your phone has a mind of its own.

If ever in doubt, get consent from parents

Are alarm bells ringing? If not, they should be. In schools for example, leaders should think about safeguarding. What about privacy laws and the need for parents’ permission?

First, you need to consider who is in the video, how the data will be used and what purpose will it be used for.

Is the filming taken by the school and used for their educational purposes for a pre-defined purpose? For example, showing pupils their own drama performances. If so, consent is unlikely to be needed.

But if the filming is used online for a broader audience or for commercial practice, then you must get consent from the people in the video. Besides, it is good practice to always get consent for filming, where children are identifiable, to cover all bases.

The easiest way is to get all parents to fill in a consent form. It should cover what filming will take place, why it is taking place and how it will be used – for example, to share best practice.

If the data is sensitive (such as data around a pupil’s political opinions or religious beliefs or their physical condition) then a higher threshold of consent is needed. The law calls this “explicit consent”.

The consent needs to be freely given, specific and informed; that is, the consent form needs to be really clear, particularly where the data is sensitive.

Whether consent is required or not, schools need to consider if there any other reasons why filming may be inappropriate. For example, a child may need to be protected from someone, the filming may bring the school into disrepute or there may be other safeguarding issues, such as filming a PE lesson where children may be dressed in clothes that may not be appropriate for viewing on the internet.

Ideally, a school will have a policy setting out its privacy policy and how it deals with data. This could be given to new parents and be a useful reference point when using data.

Ultimately, if ever in doubt, get consent from parents and make the consent form really clear and in line with a privacy policy.

As a side note, what about banning parents from filming their little ones in the school play?

That’s an easy query to clear up. Images captured by individuals for personal or recreational purposes, with mobile phones/video cameras, are exempt from data protection law.

Happy filming!