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.