Bristol councillor to lead guidelines on kids' pics

Abraham: ‘appalled’ at situation highlighted by Bristol’s Evening Post

A councillor in charge of education in Bristol has pledged to bring in new guidelines on the taking of pictures of children at school events after the picture ban on a concert in the city.

The pledge from Peter Abraham, the cabinet councillor in charge of the city’s education, comes after Bristol’s Evening Post was told it could not take pictures of a concert at Colston Hall, involving 1,000 primary school children.

The paper has been covering the event for more than 25 years.

Abraham said: “I was genuinely appalled to find this situation, which was highlighted in the Evening Post. I think it’s an issue that needs to be dealt with as a matter of urgency. We need to produce guidelines which will enable photographs to be taken by parents and the media unless parents do not wish that to happen.”

He said he hoped new guidelines would be introduced in time for the start of the new school year in September.

He said: “From an educational point of view, it is important to celebrate excellence in schools. We all know that a picture says a thousand words and there is educational value – not just pride – in singing children’s achievements from the rooftops.”

The photo ban at Colston Hall was prompted after the organisers claimed government guidelines meant they would have to ask the permission of all the parents of the children appearing in the concert before photography was allowed. They said they did not have time to contact all the parents, so the picture ban – on parents, relatives and the media – was imposed.

It was the latest media ban inspired by what is seen as an over-reaction to a fear of such events attracting paedophiles.

Evening Post editor Mike Lowe has suggested that parents should be asked at the start of each school year whether they want their children to appear in press photography. Those that don’t could then opt out.

Some local authorities, such as Essex County Council, have already introduced the “opt out” method of dealing with photography in schools.

By Jon Slattery

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