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Friday, 17 July 2009

Anonymity should be granted to teachers who are the subject of false allegations by pupils

The Telegraph reports that the vast majority of allegations made against teachers are false and that the cross-party Commons Schools Select Committee is seeking the right of anonymity for accused teachers, similar to the anonymity rape victims are allowed. The MPs revealed that one child aged just seven told a head teacher: "I will get you suspended."

A Government study suggests that only 1 in 20 of the thousands of allegations made leads to a criminal conviction.

These false allegations blight the lives and careers of the accused teachers. Many headteachers suspend these teachers too readily and bar them from contact with their colleagues. As well as the emotional and career cost to the teachers, there are substantial costs to schools in covering for the suspended staff. The Select Committee say that unfounded allegations should be deleted from the teachers' records.

It always seems to me that the teachers against whom these allegations are made are treated as guilty until they can prove themselves innocent, even though clearly many of the allegations are made maliciously, whether by a pupil or by a pupil's parents. And I contrast this manifest injustice with what happens with complaints made by patients or their relatives about negligence/incompetence/poor practice by health professionals. - Instead of the health professional concerned being suspended to protect other patients, pending investigation of the matter, the health professional is usually assumed not to be at fault; nothing is done to improve their competence/poor practice or whatever, and if it finally has to be admitted that something did go wrong, it is likely to be blamed on shortage of staff/overwork/lack of money and again, nothing done to remedy the faults. - And the people making complaints about health professionals are not maliciously motivated children or parents; overwhelmingly they are patients who have been harmed by the shortcomings of the health professionals or by the shortcomings of the system itself.

Two extremes, both mightily unfair and harmful: complaints about teachers dealt with in a way that harms teachers, complaints about doctors dealt with in a way that harms patients.

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