Shocking new research has revealed that almost a third of teachers have had a false allegation made against them by a pupil that may have placed their career in jeopardy. Read more…
The research into false allegations in the classroom was conducted by the NASUWT and the Tonight programme, which teamed up to see how the government’s promises to assert the authority of teachers in the classroom are affecting those on the front line.
The findings were featured in an ITV programme ‘Taking Control of the Classroom’, aired last week.
The survey revealed that over two thirds of teachers say they would think twice about breaking up a fight between students because of the threat of pupils making false allegations against them.
In the programme, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:
“For years the NASUWT has been collecting data, tracking allegations and supporting members who have had their lives and careers destroyed by false and malicious allegations made against them
“Therefore, while the results of the survey come as no surprise, they do serve to highlight the continuing and significant risks facing teachers.
“Ninety-nine per cent of teachers surveyed said that they were concerned that a pupil may make a false allegation against them, yet more than four out of five do not feel that protections for teachers are adequate.
“The Coalition Government makes bold promises of handing power back to teachers, but the proposed new powers to search and restrain pupils will leave teachers even more vulnerable to allegations and litigation
“What is needed is a change in the law to offer real support and protection to teachers, who all too often, through no fault of their own, face personal and professional ruin as a result of being falsely accused by pupils.
Meanwhile, Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said false allegations from pupils were “hugely damaging”:
“They can end the careers of school staff and blight their private lives as a result of the stress. Good teachers, heads and support staff are lost from schools to the detriment of children’s education.
“Of course the protection of children should be paramount, but it should not be at the expense of natural justice. We hope that changes being introduced in the Education Bill will redress the balance, so that school staff are not presumed guilty until they are proven innocent and their anonymity is preserved. However, many ATL members are worried that if the Bill encourages staff to search pupils it could backfire and lead to false allegations about improperly handling pupils and complaints from parents.
Post traumatic stress
Among various anonymous case studies identified by the ATL was that of a secondary teacher who said: “Two work colleagues have been recently suspended; one was dismissed despite a police investigation proving innocence.”
The Daily Telegraph also reported on the case of a teacher who was finally cleared of sexually assaulting schoolchildren, during which he contemplated suicide and his family life was torn apart.