Photography has been banned at a Watford secondary school in a bid to “safeguard” students.

The decision taken by Westfield Community Technology College this week will mean parents are no longer allowed to take pictures of or video pupils taking part in sports fixtures, drama productions and other events at the school.

A letter sent out by headteacher Emma Aylesbury to all parents on Monday said: “In order that we can protect our students from potential unwarranted breaches of confidence and the possibility of ‘cyber-bullying’ and or other on-line exploitation, we have decided that our only sensible course of action is to carefully control the use of photography at all school events...

“Westfield Community Technology College will no longer allow the use of any photography and/or video recording by parents, carers, family or friends at any school events."

It added that “steps may be taken” to prevent their access to the school during any events, and that the school would “certainly” prevent any camera equipment being taken onto its grounds.

Photographs used for external publicity must now be approved by parents, while school “file” photographs of pupils will only be used for educational purposes.

The letter concluded: “I appreciate that you may be upset by this decision but I hope that you will understand the need for the school to protect the safety of our students at all times.”

Hertfordshire County Council, the local education authority, provide guidance for schools concerned about photography, but said a blanket ban such as that adopted by Westfield was “unusual”.

The council's Safe Use of Images policy, published in March 2009, states that the decision about filming and photography lies with the headteacher, but it must be approved by the board of governors.

It adds that while images taken at school events for family or private use do not breach the Data Protection Act, it is up to the school to decide whether or not to allow photographs to be taken.

A representative from the school, in Tolpits Lane, said the decision was not taken in response to any particular incidents at the school but cases nationally where pictures of schoolchildren have been used inappropriately on the internet and resulted in legal action against the schools.

She said: “We consider that protecting our students from the very real danger of e-risk to be of paramount importance. We at Westfield have a duty, within the secondary educational system, to protect our students against e-harm and will continue to work with technology and parents to this further this aim.”

Are you the parent of a pupil at Westfield? What do you think of the decision to ban photography? Email or telephone 01923 216298.