Accused teachers anonymity call

December 13, 2003

Teachers accused of abusing pupils should be given anonymity to spare them from malicious claims, say the Tories. They say the fact teachers are accused, named and then cleared in most cases amounts to a significant injustice and inhibits school discipline. On Monday Tory education spokesman Tim Collins will promise a change if the Conservatives are elected to power. The government says it wants to see investigations speeded up, but does not support statutory anonymity. Mr Collins will call for a change in the law at a Commons debate on Monday. He is highlighting cases including a head teacher from the Isle of Wight who hanged himself after being accused of abuse. Alastair Wilbee, 47, committed suicide after being accused of a sex offence against a boy pupil. he coroner in that case also called for a right to anonymity in similar cases. The Tories want immediate legislation to give teachers a statutory guarantee of anonymity, at least until a formal criminal charge is brought against them. Mr Collins said discipline was plummeting because teachers were hamstrung from imposing control as they knew a single child uttering the word “abuse” could end their career. Tim Collins, Conservative education spokesman ‘The whole thing turned into hysteria. He told BBC News that current guidelines were not protecting teachers. “It is transparently obvious that they are not working. There is child protection legislation but no teacher protection legislation. “For many of them, they see their personal and professional lives utterly destroyed for a two or three-year period while all this is investigated. “Some [children] make extremely serious allegations without foundation. “In the case of a couple of constituents of mine who came to see me, they were spat at in the street, they had their homes and their cars attacked.” Richard Anderson, head of German at Boston Grammar School, has just been reinstated after being sacked last year following a claim he threw a bag at a pupil. We are working with the teaching unions and others to get a much more efficient system Education Minister Stephen Twigg “There is a detailed and specific child protection act but there is nothing in place for teachers. The teachers do need a charter of their own… that protects teachers just as much as children. “There are increased pressures on teachers and they are finding it very difficult to survive with so few sanctions at their disposal.” The government is reviewing the way allegations of abuse are handled, but says it would rather see them dealt with faster and does not support a statutory guarantee of anonymity. Education Minister Stephen Twigg said: “We have analysed about 1,600 cases in the past year – 40% of these took more than three months to resolve. “That is totally unacceptable, and we are working with the teaching unions and others to get a much more efficient system that is in the best interests of those who face unfounded allegations.”

BBC News


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