FM: School Hidden Cameras "Disturbing"

The First Minister says secret filming of alleged bullies at Corpus Christi High School in Cardiff is "disturbing".

A teenage girl had a hidden camera on her rucksack for a new TV show made by Jamie Oliver’s production company.

It’s thought she replied to an advert online and wanted to show what she was going through every school day.

However, in an inspection report in February, Estyn rated the school as “good”.

It stated that most pupils felt safe and that it deals with bullying effectively.

In a joint statement, head teacher Mrs Angela Thomas and Chair of Governors Mrs Kath Brown said:

"All the school staff and Governors condemn bullying in the strongest terms and we have a robust anti-bullying policy in place.

"Pastoral staff are always available to speak to pupils and parents on all matters, including bullying, and we always aim to create an environment at Corpus Christi in which our pupils can feel safe and secure. The school takes swift action to resolve any problems as soon as they come to light.

"The school community is shocked and upset that hidden cameras were brought into our school without our knowledge or permission and used to covertly film our pupils. The school is receiving legal advice from the City of Cardiff Council and we are monitoring the ongoing situation very carefully."

An ITV spokesman said:

"The decision to film covertly was given the most serious consideration.  Ultimately, we decided that because each case concerned a child for whom all other attempts to stop bullying had failed, this was a last resort measure that would reveal, first-hand, the reality of what they endure regularly at the hands of bullies. 

“And that the impact of sharing this footage with their family, school and peer group would present a valuable opportunity to address the problem constructively and lead to a positive outcome for each child.

“Clearly, capturing the film of the child being bullied would not be possible if other people are aware of the camera, as the bullies and their peers would not act as they normally do.  However, it’s important to point out that undercover filming is only a part of the production and of the programme and would be shown only after being carefully edited to obscure the identities of all those filmed.

 “It is not about blame and punishment."

The child’s mother said:

“The decision to enter into this was not taken lightly.  She was at the point where she just couldn’t take any more and I had done everything I could as a parent.  She has been let down time after time and it felt like there was nowhere for us to go.  This was the very last resort for both of us.

 “The last two years have been very hard, because bullying doesn’t just impact on the child, it also affects the whole family.  It was really tough as a parent, to see your child go from a confident, out-going girl to someone who doesn’t want to go out any more and doesn’t want to go to school.”

A date for the documentary hasn’t been released.