Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Teachers In The Dock

From BBC File on 4 - 03 March 2009 (Teachers in the Dock) :

Barry Sheerman, MP
(Chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Children, Schools and Families)

“It is the most damaging, damaging thing that can happen to a human being. Especially when this feeling of injustice, you actually haven’t done anything wrong. Many teachers are being very shabbily treated and I want to get to the bottom of it.”

“I think what the Government is doing is full of good intentions, but it isn’t being felt down there at the grass roots in the schools themselves, and I think that there’s got to be a much more significant announcement, that we’ve got to be much more fairly treating teachers. If I raise it and take evidence, and I can expose the misery this is unfortunately causing to a lot of teachers unfairly, unjustly, then I can, I think, bring pressure on the Government to move much more quickly to put it right.”

Barry Sheerman told File on 4 his Commons committee now plans to hold an inquiry into allegations against teachers following the Parliamentary Easter recess.

“I was brought up to believe in honour, honesty and that ‘truth will out’ but it does not ! It all fails because nobody has the strength and moral integrity or conviction to speak out. This was not justice this was the act of cowards who chose to hide behind bureaucratic policies and procedures that were never followed correctly nor were implemented in good faith. They did what they did not because it was right, they did it because they could !

So I will continue to fight – what choice do I have ? I was once a proud person, a professional teacher who was devoted to her vocation, fostered a sense of value in a humble Chorley primary school and who had a love of children. I remain a proud person for I know that I alone in this utter travesty have behaved with dignity and that I am innocent. I have survived the worst that they could do to me and I promise them that I will not ‘put it behind me’ for to do so would be to accept the situation, something that I can never do.”

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Teachers In The Dock

Efforts to protect children from abuse are intensifying but have some safety measures gone too far ? Julian O’Halloran investigates claims that over-reaction by schools to minor incidents or unproven allegations is wrecking the careers of hundreds of innocent teachers.

courtesy BBC Radio 4 - File on 4

In early January 2009, I started campaigning in earnest for legislative reform of existing policies that deal with allegations of assault by teachers.

I made contact with Helen Boaden, Director of News for the BBC. She was very sympathetic of my plight and suggested that the Radio 4 programme, ‘File on 4’ might provide the best initial investigative route, later maybe followed by television, suggesting ‘Panorama’ and the local news programme ‘Inside Out’.

So, in early February, I met with a BBC researcher from ‘File on 4’ to discuss aspects of my case and my experience. Later, I had a gruelling 3 hour interview by Julian O'Halloran. He was very kind, patient and considerate – it was an ordeal to relate my 20 months of pain and anguish.

In the end, my contribution was not used; they found 3 other cases that were similar that had involved Employment Tribunals. I was a little disappointed but it gave me considerable pride to know that I had catalyzed the creation of the programme and that I had been able to provide some guidance to the format of the presentation.

Subsequent to the broadcast, I was contacted by Julian O'Halloran with the good news confirming that Barry Sheerman, MP, Chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Children, Schools and Families, intends to initiate an inquiry following the Parliamentary Easter recess.

For me, this is just the start for there can be no end until justice is delivered to all those who have suffered my experience and until existing processes are made fair and just.

I extend my grateful thanks to the BBC team for their support and for the positive and optimistic results from their programme.