A false or malicious allegation against a teacher can cause extreme stress, fear and ill-health- and it is important that NUT Reps and Health and Safety Representatives are able to support these members, and ensure that the proper child protection procedures are applied fairly, and confidentially, without allowing unfounded rumour or speculation, which can seriously damage a teacher's career.
It is essential that any allegation of abuse against a teacher is dealt with quickly, fairly and consistently and in a way that protects the reputation and livelihood of the teacher accused while effectively protecting children in their care. To this end, the Government embarked on an ambitious programme of reform to safeguarding arrangements, such as adopting measures to protect the anonymity of teachers in the initial stages of an allegation.
The NUT recently conducted a survey of local associations and divisions to gauge the extent to which the Government’s reforms have changed practise at school and college level, as well as to give effect to the Conference Resolution last year to carry out a survey of associations and divisions
The survey collected data on the extent to which teachers are subjected to allegations of abuse; the source of the allegations; whether particular groups of teachers are more likely to have false allegations made against them than others; the extent to which teachers feel supported when allegations are made; and the impact of false allegations on teachers’ careers.
Key Findings of the Survey were:
- The total number of allegations of abuse referred each year to the divisions and associations responding to the survey were between 38 and 75 cases.
- False allegations of abuse were more likely to be made in secondary schools.
- The majority of allegations of abuse made against teachers were physical in nature and this included incidents relating to restraint of pupils.
- Almost half of respondents (47.4%) said teachers were suspended whilst the allegation was being investigated.
- Respondents felt that male teachers and supply teachers (particularly teachers with both these characteristics) were more likely than other groups of teachers to have allegations of abuse made against them.
- Nearly nine-tenths (88.2%) of respondents said that the majority of allegations dealt with on behalf of members were dismissed by employers.
- Almost half of respondents (44.4%) believed teachers were very likely to suffer a period of sickness absence following an allegation of abuse.