New stop and search powers could fuel more abuse allegations against teachers
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Monday 09 April 2012
New powers allowing teachers to stop and search pupils and restrain them if they are involved in fight could fuel more abuse allegations against them, a teachers’ leader has warned.
The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers produced figures at its conference in Birmingham which showed that only four out of 64 teachers accused of criminal behaviour by pupils last year had court action taken against them. No action was taken against the other 60.
Delegates at their annual conference warned, though, that there was not enough protection given to those facing false allegations.
In addition, new powers – given to teachers by Education Secretary Michael Gove this year – to search pupils for weapons and drugs – will fuel more malicious complaints, they warned.
Chris Keates, the union’s general secretary, said: "The coalition Government has made bold promises of handing power back to teachers but the new powers to search and restrain pupils – which teachers did not want - will leave them even more vulnerable to allegations and litigation.
"The fact of having an allegation made against them is confounded by the fact that – even if they are exonerated – their career will be permanently blighted by the fact the allegation will remain on record.
"Urgent action is needed to bring in statutory provision to cover the recording and reporting of an allegation on a teacher’s file."
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "Schools should have absolutely no tolerance of malicious allegations against teachers.
"We've made crystal clear that heads can suspend or expel pupils who make false claims – and should report them to the police if they believe a criminal offence has been committed.
"We've legislated so a teacher has a legal right to anonymity before they are charged with an offence to prevent their names being dragged through the mud."
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