Tories seek greater protection for accused teachers

December 13, 2004

The shadow education secretary, Tim Collins, will today call for teachers to be given anonymity when they are accused of abusing a pupil to protect them against the “utterly ruining” effect of malicious allegations.The Conservatives want teachers who have been accused of abusing or mistreating a pupil to have anonymity at least until a trial reaches court, to protect them against the hundreds of false allegations made by disgruntled pupils every year, and the press coverage that follows. Last year 187 members of the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) were accused, compared with just 44 in 1991. In the same period, the number of convictions fell from 11% to 2%, with two-thirds of cases dropped after a school inquiry. Mr Collins will tell a House of Commons debate on the issue this afternoon: “If a teacher tries to restrain a violent and disruptive pupil or break up a fight, he may face suspension or even the end of his career. “If a child chooses to utter the word ‘abuse’, the teacher will face a presumption of guilt not innocence – and may find their professional and personal lives utterly ruined. “The vast majority of teachers accused of abuse are subsequently cleared – but the strain and stress involved, which often includes being spat at in the street and having homes and cars attacked, means that the incidence of suicide among teachers facing this vile accusation is alarmingly high.”The call was backed by the Liberal Democrats.

The Guardian

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