South East Wales

School 'shocked' after production company secretly filmed pupils

Corpus Christi High School Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Fresh One Productions told parents the covert footage was for an ITV programme

A Cardiff school has said it is "shocked and upset" after a production company secretly filmed pupils for a programme about bullying.

Corpus Christi High School said it was "receiving legal advice" after Fresh One Productions gave a schoolgirl a camera to film without permission.

In a letter to parents, the company said the covert footage was for an ITV programme called Bullying.

The company and ITV said it took its duty of care "extremely seriously".

A letter sent to parents of the school in Lisvane by the production company, and seen by BBC, said: "We understand that you and the school will be shocked to learn about the covert filming.

"While the covert footage will be shown in the programme (albeit without identifying anyone), it will only be a small part of it.

"We have been working with he family of the child for months to learn about the problems they face and to identify the best way to help them with the bullying."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ashley Banjo, the leader of dance act Diversity, is set to present the programme

In a joint statement, head teacher Angela Thomas and chair of governors 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."

The decision to film in the school was defended by ITV and Fresh One in a joint statement.

Anti-bullying advice

"Bullying is a major issue affecting young people in this country and the aim of this series is to show what it is like to walk in the shoes of the child that is actually bullied and to work with their peer group and their school to improve their desperate situation," said the statement.

"The child in each story is provided with a covert camera to record the bullying they are experiencing at school.

"But this footage is used as a starting point for resolution and not to name or shame anyone involved, including the schools."

The programme makers said the approach had led to "hugely positive" outcomes for a similar series broadcast in the Netherlands.

The companies added that "appropriate legal advice" had been taken, underpinning the production.

They said: "We take our responsibilities and duty of care extremely seriously, particularly with regard to the young people involved".

Both said the production had the guidance and support of charity, The Diana Award, in connection with its anti-bullying campaign.

No date has yet been set for the programme to be broadcast.