A school under siege from tourist cameras
WHEN you think of Sydney’s major attractions, Glebe Public School probably doesn’t rank with the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, yet it has been forced to put up signs urging tourists not to photograph its students.
In what NSW Labor education spokesman Jihad Dib has described as “a worry”, the inner west Sydney school has installed signs in multiple languages stating: “Please do not take photos of the Glebe Public School students”.
Tourist buses regularly park outside the school before heading to the nearby University of Sydney.
Despite the signs being more than a year old, con- struction workers helping renovate the school said they have to constantly tell tourists to get off school grounds.
“Every week I am telling tourists to stop taking photos of the kids,” one said. “A lot of them are also coming on to the grounds and I have to go and fish them out. They think the school is a park.”
The signs were installed following a flood of complaints from parents.
The school consulted with police, City of Sydney council and the Education Department. The warnings are written in English, Mandarin and Spanish and placed along the school’s Derwent St entrance.
“I think it is fair enough that you don’t take photographs of kids through the school gate,” Glebe Public School P & C Association president Verity Firth said.
“The parents thought it was a sensible precautionary measure following a number of incidents of tourists taking photographs.”
Ms Firth said the move was a safety measure rather than a direct reaction to “anything nefarious going on”.
Mother Sunita Mizar, 44, said she would feel uncomfortable if someone photographed her seven-year-old daughter Siyona Berghams without permission.
“I would immediately ask them why they are taking her picture,” Mrs Mizar said.
“They have put these signs here for a reason.
“The school is doing some- thing to protect children which is the right thing. I can’t imagine why someone would want to take a photo of a schoolkid.”
A Department of Education spokeswoman said it discourages anyone taking photographs from outside of school grounds to ensure the privacy of students and staff.
“The school advises that … people are respectful of the school’s request not to photograph students and very few people need to be reminded,” she said.
The spokeswoman did not answer our question if any other schools had made similar requests.
Mr Dib said it was a worry if tourists were taking photographs of the kids.
“In most cases there would be no malice but you just can’t take that risk,” Mr Dib said. “The most important thing is to protect the children. There could also be court orders on identifying children in a photograph.”
As with Mr Dib, NSW Primary Principals Association president Phil Seymour said he has never seen such a sign before.
“If you want to take a child’s photograph you need to get permission from the parents,” Mr Seymour said.
“Taking photos from the street is not appropriate.”
A tourist bus driver who was at Glebe on Thursday said tour companies need to tell their clients that it is not OK to take pictures of kids.
Sunita Mizar and daughter Siyona Berghams are pleased Glebe Public School has taken steps to protect its students.