Friday, 17 July 2009

Where Is The “Fence” ?

Said one, to his pleas, ‘It’s marvel to me
That you’d give so much greater attention
To repairing results than to curing the cause;
You had much better aim at prevention.
For the mischief, of course, should be stopped at its source;
Come, neighbours and friends, let us rally.
It is far better sense to rely on a fence
Than an ambulance down in the valley.
extract from The Ambulance In The Valley - Joseph Malins 1895

Over the past few days, journalists have asked for comment on the recommendations within the Parliamentary Report –

Allegations Against School Staff HC695

The report supports the view that ‘commonsense’ should be a key consideration. It struggles with other issues to do with preserving anonymity. It certainly contains many new initiatives and when implemented, the system will be better than the current situation.

It firmly supports the view that teachers and other school staff should be seen as innocent until proven guilty but what does that mean in practice ? It is much the same as saying “Suspension is a neutral act”; I can assure you that it is not !

An oversight in the report is an expectation that all associated bodies will ‘play-fair’. In my case, they did not and I entered a Kafkaesque world full of horror !

I am reminded of the film “Enemy of the State”, 1998 with Will Smith - well that’s what I have experienced - “It’s not paranoia if they’re really after you” - and they were - Lancashire County Council and school. From the moment of my suspension they ignored all the rules - they are able to do as they wish, secure in the knowledge that there’s nowhere to go to complain !

What is needed is an independently appointed ombudsman who makes certain that rules are obeyed in good faith.

The fundamental problem in the report, is that it does not address protecting the teacher and indeed the child - it discusses policies / procedures that only can be invoked after the event.

The fact is that, no matter what new procedures are introduced, an allegation levied at a teacher will destroy them, their life and their career. Anonymity, is the least concern - a press announcement and an absent teacher does not require the deductive reasoning of Sherlock Holmes to reach a conclusion of “Who dunnit !”.

With reference to “The Ambulance In The Valley”, the focus continues to be the provision of an improved ambulance service to deal with the injured. But where is the “fence” ?

Until there is UK wide social reform, the only protection available to a teacher has to be CCTV surveillance. There has been heated debate in the past on this topic but what else is there ? I would go further and suggest that teachers should be equipped with body worn cameras. If I could rewind two years then I would not hesitate to wear one ... it can save your life !

Would I teach again ? Yes, if I could feel safe. It was my life, I always wanted to teach and I expected to work until my retirement - I loved my job and I loved children - for they are precious and they are our future !