Teachers can touch children, says Gove

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The Education Secretary Michael Gove rounded on children's and music organisations for urging music teachers not to touch children during lessons. Mr Gove said it was "totally appropriate" for teachers to touch pupils while helping them to learn to play musical instruments.

The advice to the contrary had come from the Musicians' Union, the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and the NSPCC, who warn of the danger of abuse allegations from touching.

Mr Gove said it was "important" that people teaching children "felt confident that they can demonstrate how to master instruments and improve techniques by intervening physically with children".

This was the case "whether it is adjusting the position of a violin or demonstrating how to handle drumsticks, showing how a trombone slide should work or introducing new subtleties in oboe playing".

New guidance is planned allowing teachers to intervene physically to end fights between pupils. Teachers accused of abuse will be guaranteed anonymity until a criminal charge is brought against them.

"If we stigmatise and seek to restrict all physical contact between responsible adults and children we will only undermine healthy relations between the generations," Mr Gove said. It would also make children "more suspicious about adults and adults more nervous and confused about their role in our society".