Teachers answer to Big Brother?

Teaching unions are complaining that e-safety software is increasingly being used to keep track of their members, the BBC reported this week. Supporters of the software, however, point to the success it has had in protecting children from cyber-bullying and accessing unsuitable websites.

Unions say thousands of teachers are having their every mouse-click monitored, eroding trust. Such software can record online activity by individuals, including web pages visited and messages sent.

Leader of the NASUWT teachers' union Chris Keates says monitoring of teachers' computer use is common – and a symptom of "a growing culture of surveillance".

"I think it is more widespread than we realise,” she was reported as saying. “There is surveillance of teachers in classrooms for all sorts of things. There is the big issue of CCTV in classrooms and two-way mirrors.

"I think laptop surveillance is being used to see how teachers are using their time, checking that they are not logging on to Facebook or looking at the internet for something personal.

"It's about professional trust and confidence. Teachers have more restrictions than their pupils these days.”

The other big classroom teachers' union, the NUT, has also said it is "very concerned" about the use of spyware. It plans to send guidance to members.