False allegations: ‘Every teacher’s worst nightmare’

False allegations: ‘Every teacher’s worst nightmare’

New figures obtained by the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act show that the majority of accusations made against teachers and teaching assistants by pupils in Wales over the last five years turned out to be false. But the damage done to a teacher’s health and career remains, says one teaching union. Read more and share your views .

Last year we reported on research revealing that almost a third of teachers have had a false allegation made against them. Now BBC Wales has reported that 55% of 312 allegations made by pupils in Wales were later dropped.

“A total of 103 cases were investigated by police and two teachers or assistants were convicted of a crime,” says the BBC.  “Of those facing accusations, 121 were suspended while the allegations were being investigated.”

And both the NUT and the NASUWT say the problem could be bigger than the figures suggest, the BBC reports.

‘No “innocent until proven guilty”’

Rex Phillips, NASUWT Wales Organiser, said: “This is a matter of extreme concern for us and I know it’s something that teachers are worried about.

“It’s every teacher’s worst nightmare to have a false allegation made against them. Their reputation is damaged and they often find it hard to go back to work, even though they’ve been completely exonerated.

“We just want teachers to be treated fairly. Once an allegation is made, a teacher is often suspended immediately with scant regard paid to the credibility of the accusation.

“There is no ‘innocent until proven guilty’.

“We would like a system where pupils can’t make false allegations with impunity.

“The police can issue a caution to the individual but I’m only aware of one case where this happened. I think it would send out a message to others that this will not be tolerated.”

Creating a culture of respect

Quoted by the BBC, Children’s Commissioner for Wales Keith Towler said: “Classrooms should be safe places for both teachers and pupils.

“What we need to be doing is fostering a culture of respect between teachers and their pupils instead of pitching them against each other.”

Have you been falsely accused? What can be done to protect both pupils and teaching staff? Share your views…


11 thoughts on “False allegations: ‘Every teacher’s worst nightmare’

  1. Student teachers need more protection too.

    I taught at a very badly organized college where there was no discipline, students were often disruptive and unenthusiastic; As a student teacher it was difficult to deal with because you had no real authority to deal with things that happened. Also my mentor told me that no one was allowed to be failed on the course because each student was worth money to the college. (So much for educational standards…)

    Anyway what happened was that I was accused of swearing at a student. I hadn’t done so. He had held a grudge against me for losing a part in a show we were doing due to his skipping of rehearsals.

    The Head of the Department didn’t explain what procedure she was following; she just suspended me for 2 weeks without explanation as to what the accusation was or when it was supposed to have happened.

    After 2 weeks we met and she said no-one had come forward in writing to confirm the accusation but that she thought it better I moved on to another campus. She put me in touch with a colleague of hers who I was able to finish my training with.

    Although I completed my qualification I have found it hard to find work since and someone has warned me that I have a bad name now in the local teaching community thanks to this incident.

    I have also found out that she was under pressure to keep her own job as the college was being taken over at the time by a larger organisation and people were being made to re-interview for their jobs against staff from the other college; so I think she was worried of anything that made her look bad.

    I spoke to my Union at the time but as I was a student teacher they could do nothing about the unprofessional way I was treated.

    That was my experience.

    I no longer teach.

  2. I was falsley accused March 2011 of victimising a student. She wrote a letter of complaint in which she accused me of being vindictive and mistreating her. In fact I had given her a lot of support and even encouraged her to be a Student Rep. I could not believe it. It transpired she had been encouraged to write it by a member of staff that she was having a secret affair with. When the wider issues materialised she withdrew the allegations but my request for an apology was never met. The college did not support me at all in this matter and I took out a grievance against the college. I became very ill with my quest to exonerate myself as it was a personal attack against me and I was left without any support from the college or the union. I requested DATA Protection information and I obtained an immense amount of disturbing ‘cover up’ information which left me feeling undervalued. I continued with my grievance and spent most nights unable to sleep with the injustice of it all and went off sick in July 2011 with Depression and Work Related Stress but I continued trying to get my voice heard. BUT It took its toll! On December 14th 2011 I was diagnosed with Cancer and have not returned to work since. I cannot believe as a dedicated member of staff how I was treated and I am still going to continue with my ‘fight’ as soon as I am well enough.

  3. Well why are the parents and the students not prosecuted? The students should be banned from educative innstitutions for life.

  4. I was once accused by a student that I don’t teach and had no close contact with for sexual harrassment. I was suspended and eventually cleared after the investigation. While the case was being investigated my teaching room was cleared and trashed on the instruction of the HOD. When I returned to the school to collect some of my resources that I had accumulated from working overseas and in UK, I found nothing left in the cupboard where I stored them.

    Before the incidence I had had a new job so during the summer I moved on from the school.
    Every time that I think of using any of the resources from my collection, I think about the incidence. I have night mares and I am never the same again. I have though several times after that incidence if I should quit teaching but I cann’t quit teaching because it is the only thing that I have ever wanted to do and life will mean nothing to me if I ever quit.

    To protect teachers’ students must be educated about the effect of false accusation on a teacher, his career and his family. While it is important that students report cases of improper behaviour towards them, I think the school should have the power to carry out objective preliminary investigation before moving it forward if need be.

    If an accusation turns out to be false it should have serious consequence to the student. The minimum punishment should be permanent exclusion from the school.
    Which is worse , a student physically hitting a teacher or making false accusation against that teacher?

  5. I am currently going through this and actually had a student tell me in a full class that he was going to try and get me the sack because he thinks I am an F@****g Wa******r.
    Prior to this he has threatened me physically and been offensive and threatening on a daily basis.
    I will be placed today infornt of the disciplinary panel comprising VP and directors and have to answer questions.
    I have submitted 7 different disciplinary forms as part of the college policy regarding this young man and the line manager lost 6 and submitted just 1.
    I will be leaving the profession at the end of the year and seeking a new job.

  6. The interesting aspect of this allegation is that My line manager has informed me that he will not support me in the allegation. Even though this is a complete false accusation. In addition as the college is going through restructuring, I have been informed that He will block my application for severence and let it slip that some of my colleagues were watching me .

  7. I share your sentiments to some extent and feel you have been treated in a disgraceful manner. I’m not surprised you wish to leave the profession, but the teaching profession could be losing a first class teacher. I hope you find fulfillment in another profession, or would you consider tutoring?

  8. I have “permanent” door signs outside every class that list all the pslbisoe teachers names for the class. I am worried that the little rascals of our church would wipe off or change the names on the white boards before the parents could see it :)I like your idea since it’s week specific…but having a list of the teachers by our doors at least gives parents an idea of who is in the room ;)Love, Michelle

  9. You must read Harry Wong’s book, The First Days of School. It will show you that if you are well-organized, fair to the kids, and keep them doing all the work instead of you doing all the work, class will run more olsothmy, you will be happier, and they will learn more and respect you more.

  10. Mellpa, Harry Wong’s book is definitely worth a read. The problem I’ve found since teaching in the UK is that, at least in my current post, the pupils are not expected to treat the staff with respect and are not held accountable when they don’t. Several have been heard back-chatting the principal and the assistant principal with no consequences. Because of this, they come to lessons with little to no respect for the teachers. The majority of the students behave, but the ones who don’t aren’t being sanctioned – they are being humoured, mollycoddled, etc. rather than leadership stepping up and taking a hard line towards discipline. Teachers can plan engaging, interesting lessons, but there are just some pupils who don’t want to put forth the effort to do anything but disrupt the learning.

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