30 per cent of teachers face false claims

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The Independent Online

Almost a third of teachers have faced a false allegation from a pupil, a survey suggests.

poll by the NASUWT teaching union and the Tonight programme revealed that 99% of teachers are concerned that one of their students may make a false claim against them.

A total of 30% said they have had a false allegation made by a student.

The findings will feature in Taking Control of the Classroom, due to be broadcast at 7.30pm this evening on ITV, which will look at the scale of allegations against teachers.

The NASUWT said the survey also showed that two-thirds of teachers would think twice about breaking up a fight between pupils because of the risk of students making a false allegation against them.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates 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.

"99% of teachers surveyed said that they were concerned that pupils may make a false allegation against them, yet more than four out of five do not feel that protections for teachers are adequate."

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: "False allegations from pupils are 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."

Ministers have announced plans to give teachers more powers to deal with poor discipline, such as searching pupils for items that disrupt the classroom, handing out no-notice detentions and allowing them to use force where necessary to restrain students.