Conservatives back fines for parents who falsely accuse teachers

Plans to fine parents who make false accusations against teachers have been welcomed by the Conservatives.

Headteachers have called for the financial sanctions in the hope that they will deter frivolous allegations of poor conduct. Mick Brookes, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said a minority of parents were “intent on siding with delinquent children to aggressively challenge and accuse” teachers.

The Tory schools spokesman Michael Gove, who will be Education Secretary if the Conservatives form the next government, indicated support for the idea. An aide of Mr Gove’s said yesterday that fining parents “seems like a good idea”.

Mr Gove added that students should also “face the consequences of their own bad behaviour” if they made false allegations.

Around 4,000 allegations are made against teachers a year with only one in 20 being found to be true.

The union has called for teachers to be allowed to remain anonymous while accusations are investigated – a move already taken up by Mr Gove – and it has been holding discussions with the Local Government Ombudsman, who already has the power to fine schools and local authorities for breaches of admissions policies, about introducing a new system of fines.

Speaking at his union’s annual conference in Liverpool, Mr Brookes told headteachers: “We have asked the new Ombusdman to consider a system of fines for those who accuse our colleagues unjustly.

“All of those who invent or elaborate for malicious, pecuniary or vindictive purposes should be liable to be fined and not a letter of their accusation should enter a teacher’s record.

“It is time to end this injustice.”

Mr Brookes cited the case of a father – “six foot six and built like a brickhouse door” – who burst into a school to intimidate a female member of staff over the way she had treated his child.

The headteacher had him escorted from the premises whereupon he made an accusation that the teacher had assaulted his child. “Police were called in, social services were involved and questions were asked as to whether the teacher should be suspended,” Mr Brookes said.

“The outcome was that there was no case to answer because there were plenty of other staff and children who were witnesses to what had happened.

“What was caused, though, was anxiety to the teacher and a deep Criminal Records Bureau check on her would have revealed that an allegation had been made.”

This could have scuppered her chances of getting another job on the “no smoke without fire” basis, he said.

“It also tied up the headteacher of that particular school for days gathering the evidence,” Mr Brookes added.

“If the complaint had been made against a police officer, the parent could have been charged with wasting police time. Why can’t you have an offence of wasting education time?”

Mr Brookes also cited a case from his former school, Sherwood in Nottingham, where it had attempted to sweep away the snow after a heavy fall in an attempt to keep it open for the day.

“There were still other bits of ice and a child fell and grazed themselves,” he said.

“I then heard from the local authority and a solictor that they were trying to sue us for negligence.

“It was resolved with no case to answer. In reality, she was just trying to screw some money out of the authority.

“I felt so outraged. It would have been nice to have this power as a backstop.”

Mr Brookes stressed: “We don’t want to deter parents who have genuine complaints from pursuing those complaints but we do need to deter the serial complainers.”

However, the Schools Secretary Ed Balls said he would prefer to rely on existing libel and slander laws to address the situation rather than introduce a new offence.

Meanwhile, the three party education spokesmen took part in a live debate at the conference with Mr Gove promising a review of school inspections if he takes office on Friday. Headteachers had warned they could follow their boycott of national curriculum tests with a boycott of inspections by Ofsted, the education standards watchdog, because of the inaccuracy of judgements and the stress they caused.

David Laws, for the Liberal Democrats, won applause for pledging to bring an end to “too much political meddling” in schools.

Mr Balls, who was received by the heads in silence because of his insistence on testing 11-year-olds this term despite opposition, complained that it was not an “honest debate” because Mr Gove would not address the issue of where the Conservatives would cut spending.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Linux Systems Administrator

£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

SEN Teacher, Permanent Role in Ashford

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad urgently seeks a qualif...

Drama Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Liverpool: We are looking for someone who can t...

**Science Teacher Urgently Required for September**

£120 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: **Science Teacher Urgently ...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?