Wednesday, November 23, 2011


For the past three years my kids' school has been annoying me on sports' day and at school shows with their blanket ban on photography. I have no major interest in taking photos of kids I don't know but I do want to show mine photos of their achievements and milestones when they reach adulthood. How often when we are on facebook these days does an old school friend upload a photo taken in the school playground 30 years ago and we all fall about laughing with genuine affection for our youth? Banning that has been grating on me for some time... Then this year, I finally snapped.

School sports day fell the week after my mother's stroke. My son was in primary one and I was banned from taking a photo of him to his granny in hospital for no reason I could see. I didn't want a class shot, simply a photo of him alone in his sack or holding an egg and spoon. So I wrote to my MP.

Dear Mr Macintosh,
I thought I'd ask for your help on this minor issue. Today was Sports' Day at my kids' school here in East Renfrewshire. As has been the case for the last two years the head opened it warning parents not to take photos of the event for private use as a few of the children didn't have permission to be photographed. It seems to me that the majority of the parents did want to photograph the event - many sneaked out mobiles while the teachers' backs were turned. Why are the majority's desires ignored in favour of the minority? I agree publishing photos would be another matter. But a snap of your child for personal use is harmless. My mother is in hospital after a stroke last week, my father is terminally ill with cancer so neither was able to attend my son's p1 sports' day. I feel terribly upset I couldn't brighten their day by showing them a photo of him with an egg and spoon. I have no desire to take photos of others' kids, I simply feel aggrieved that someone is telling me I cannot document my own child's childhood because of the desires of a few paranoid individuals. Ironically if these kids are walking home from school on say Mearns road nothing stops me from accidentally snapping them as I take a photo of a nearby church for example. I don't need to ask permission of every individual on Prestwick beach on a sunny day before snapping the view. And of course the rules have changed over the years - I have plenty photos of my older kids' sports days. How do I explain to the youngest that his own mother is banned from photographing him? I think it is time we got back a sense of reality. And the reality is 95% of parents want a cute little photo of junior with his egg and spoon and 5% are spoiling that. Why are we allowing that? By pandering to this paranoia we are sending the kids the message that the parents watching them at school are potentially dangerous. That is completely wrong. I wish the Scottish government would step in and issue some guidelines for sense.
Thanks for your time.

I assumed it would be ignored but I felt better for having moaned at least. A month later I received a letter stamped 'Scottish Parliament'. Mr Macintosh said he agreed with my points, had kids in the same council area and agreed to take up my case with the council. I was surprised to say the least. Another month passed and both Ken and the council wrote to me saying new guidelines allowing parents to photograph their kids on condition they didn't upload the photos to social media sites had been sent to all East Ren heads.

Today I attended the school's p2 show where we were allowed to take photos of our kids for the first time in three years. So I guess the lesson is to be less cynical. Complaining sometimes actually works!

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