A meeting between education officials and the media has confirmed Charles Clarke’s statement that there are no guidelines stopping the press taking pictures of traditional school activities, like plays and sports.
Representatives of the Newspaper Society, the Society of Editors, the Department for Education and Skills and independent schools met last week.
It followed press fears that schools were refusing traditional pictures and stories about school events because of over exaggerated fears of paedophiles and erroneous interpretations of the Data Protection Act.
Education Secretary Clarke revealed in a letter to the NS two weeks ago that some schools and local authorities misinterpreted guidance given by the DfES by relating it to the publication of photographs in local newspapers.
The DfES child protection website now makes clear that guidelines issued to protect the identity of children are only meant to apply to video and photographic images used by schools for their own publicity purposes.
NS head of political and legal affairs Santha Rasaiah said: “The meeting was very constructive and built on the letter from Charles Clarke. We are working on whether there needs to be any further clarification of the guidance given by the DfES.”
The media representatives are also looking at whether they can provide some guidance to schools.
SoE executive director Bob Satchwell, who was at the meeting, also described it as “very useful and constructive”. He added: “It was also useful for us to show that media organisations have carefully thought through the issues and have policies for dealing with children.
“Some schools were interpreting the guidelines so tightly there was a danger that a whole generation of school children could be lost from public view.”
By Jon Slattery