Innocent teachers increasingly quitting their jobs over false accusations by pupils

Some teachers are even considering quitting the profession, despite not having had any allegations levelled against them, through fear that it might happen

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The Independent Online

Innocent teachers and school staff are quitting their jobs after false allegations against them by pupils because they cannot cope with the stigma, according to a report out today.

Some teachers are even considering quitting the profession, despite not having had any allegations levelled against them, through fear that it might happen.

More than one in five school and college staff (22 per cent) surveyed had been the target of a false allegation by a pupil while one in seven had been subjected to a false accusations by a pupil’s parent or family friend. Often the allegations by the pupil were made because they “didn’t like being told off by school or college staff”.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), which conducted the poll, said the number of false allegations made by pupils was rising.

One teacher in the South-east, said: “My late husband was falsely accused by a child he had taught. Even though the Crown Prosecution Service held there was no case to answer, he was a broken man.

“He returned to work briefly, but had lost his nerve. The false accusation  wrecked our family life. My husband died of a sudden heart attack in his fifties.”

The most authoritative study of the situation, commissioned by the Department for Education in 2011, also concluded that the number of false allegations reported to local authorities was “on a rising trend”,  although it argued this could be because more were being reported.

The study said the number of allegations reported to local authority staff was “lower than the total number” in schools due to the rise in the number of academies and free schools which are not part of the local authority support structure.

Today’s study of 685 teachers comes as the ATL debates a call for a reasonable time limit to be imposed on investigating allegations. It also wants anonymity granted to all school staff until charges are brought against them. At present, only teachers are given anonymity until they appear in court.

“Even if the allegation is shown to be false, it leaves a lasting scar,” said David Guiterman, ATL  branch secretary in Cornwall. “In a local case, a member decided to resign even though the allegation was shown to be false. He did not want to carry on lecturing.”

“The increasing occurrence of allegations is one reason why I will be leaving the profession sooner than I would like,” said a primary teacher in Kent.

“Poor parental discipline is leading to children always wanting their way. Unable to discipline children without a comeback has meant this sort of incident will escalate and good teachers will be driven out when they are most needed.”

A Department for Education spokesman said:  “ We recognise the extreme damage that can be caused to teachers who have false allegations made against them, which is why we have made it clear to schools and colleges that staff should be supported throughout and are able to return to focusing their energies on teaching as swiftly as possible.”

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