In Glasgow, Fury from Teachers over Hidden Camera in Classroom

ASPY camera has been uncovered in a secondary school classroom, prompting anger from teachers.

The secret surveillance equipment was discovered by an electrician doing routine maintenance in the home economics classroom shared by two teachers.

The man found wires behind a washing machine which he traced to a video-recorder with three 24-hour tapes. He then uncovered the camera on the wall disguised as a motion sensor in St Margaret Mary's secondary in Castlemilk, Glasgow.

An employee with Amey, the company responsible for rebuilding, refurbishing and maintaining secondary schools in Glasgow, has been suspended. It is claimed that he secretly installed the equipment in an attempt to establish the cause of apparent gas leaks in the school. According to one education source, the 500-pupil school has been plagued by about a dozen gas leaks since it opened in April 2002.

The custom-designed school replaced an oversized, outdated school under the city's public-private partnership scheme.

One teacher said: "The fact that the camera was placed there without consultation has caused a huge ruction.

"Everyone is gob smacked. It is a betrayal of trust between Amey and St Margaret Mary's. It leaves a question mark over the whole PPP approach when concealed camera equipment can be placed in an area where there are children."

Part of the anger stems from the fact that the two teachers in the classroom are involved in sensitive and confidential work.

One is a pastoral care teacher who will have had confidential conversations in her classroom with parents on the phone. The other is a member of the senior management team and will have had to speak to pupils in private in her room.

Many teachers also consider classrooms to be private places where they will simply close the blinds if they want to get changed.

The teacher said: "Amey said it was only set up to record between the hours of 3.30pm and 9am. However, teachers are at work between this time. The room in question where the camera was placed is used by a guidance teacher and she could have been recorded discussing confidential matters."

The source added: "We have been told that Amey is claiming that its employee set it up without authority but we find it hard to believe that he did it off his own bat."

He said the whole incident had even wider implications.

"Did Amey suspect that the gas supply was being sabotaged by one of its own employees or did they think it was teachers or even pupils?

"It raises a real question mark over whether Amey should have access to St Margaret Mary's."

The teacher added that staff were increasingly concerned they were working in an unsafe environment because no explanation had been provided for the gas scares.

He said: "In one instance the whole school was evacuated and all the pupils sent home for the day while the incident was investigated."

It is understood that janitors have been issued with sensors to detect gas leaks.

A spokesman for Amey said employees had reported gas taps being tampered with in a specific classroom.

"An Amey employee sought to investigate using a CCTV camera in the classroom which was in operation out of teaching hours.

"The employee has been suspended while the matter is investigated by Amey, the school and Glasgow City Council, " he said.