Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Government Response

Allegations Against School Staff:
Government Response to the Committee’s Fifth Report of Session 2008–09

Barry Sheerman, MP, Chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Children, Schools and Families, gave a commitment on Radio 4's File On 4 programme in March, 2009 :

“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.”

Initially, I felt some pride to know that I had, in part, been involved with this work. However, I quickly appreciated that this report only reiterates processes and ideals that already are in place or that have been uttered for the last two decades. Much could and should have been looked at to determine why the existing systems continue to fail and destroy so many lives. So far, not even the surface of the problem has been scratched and the bottom of it still lies, undisturbed, many fathoms below.

Unsurprisingly, the unions were quick to extol this ‘new’ report to be a significant step forward :

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, said :

“The Select Committee report marked another important step forward in addressing the vulnerability of teachers to false allegations from pupils.

I am pleased, therefore, that the Government has accepted the main recommendations.

These now need to be implemented as a matter of urgency. Too many teachers are still having their lives and careers blighted by false allegations.”

Investigating abuse by teachers
Monday 21st November 2005 at 00:00

Ruth Kelly has unveiled new guidance for schools and other education establishments, local authorities, the Crown Prosecution Service and the police on arrangements to speed up the process of dealing with allegations of abuse against teachers and support staff.

The guidance spells out standard procedures that will apply in all local authorities in England to replace existing local procedures and ensure cases are dealt with consistently in all areas.

Government Response : Ruth Kelly

Education secretary Ruth Kelly said : “The number of allegations made each year is very small as a proportion of the children and staff in our schools.”

“But it is vital that they are dealt with properly and fairly. We must protect children. Being abused by a trusted adult can have a devastating effect on a child and their future.”

“Equally, I am very much aware of the devastating effect that being wrongly or unfairly accused can have on an individual, their family and career, and how delay and publicity can exacerbate that.”

Stakeholder Response : NASUWT

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said : “I welcome the positive action the government has taken in response to NASUWT's campaign on this important issue. Too many innocent teachers have had their lives and careers wrecked by false allegations of abuse.”

“Teachers and others who work with children are extremely vulnerable to false allegations. NASUWT has campaigned for years for this to be recognised and for an investigative process which takes this into account to be introduced.”

“The guidance represents a significant step forward towards securing more balanced and fair procedures.”

“This guidance will not prevent those who abuse children from being identified and dealt with appropriately. Those who abuse children have no place in schools.”

“It does, however, have the real potential to ensure that those who are falsely accused, and their families, are spared the months and sometimes years of trauma and distress before being exonerated.”

“Teachers will warmly welcome the fact that for the first time there is a clear recognition in guidance that sanctions, including legal procedures, against accusers, should be considered seriously where allegations are found to be malicious.”

“The tightening up and standardisation of the recording of the outcomes of investigations will help to ensure that teachers who have been the victims of false allegations seeking to obtain a job in another school or local authority are not denied employment on the basis of inaccurate information.”

“Although the procedures do not introduce anonymity for teachers up to the point of conviction, the fast-tracking of investigations should reduce significantly the opportunity for public and media exposure which exacerbates the devastating impact of being falsely accused.”

“Case study analysis demonstrated that the longer an investigation took, the more likely it was for confidentiality to be breached.”

“NASUWT has secured a commitment from the government for the introduction of a monitoring procedure to enable regular review and evaluation of the effectiveness of the new guidance with a view to the introduction of further changes if the problems still persist.”

“Regrettably, these procedures only apply in England and so NASUWT will now continue its campaign in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to secure their introduction. False allegations are not confined to England and teachers throughout the UK deserve the same protection.”

Almost exactly 4 years has elapsed. Isn’t Ruth Kelly saying the same as Barry Sheerman is now saying ? And isn’t Chris Keates repeating herself including the same pious NASUWT flag waving ?

A Google search reveals the same old recommendations - often with Chris Keates with her flag. I’m reminded of the film “Groundhog Day” - am I Phil (Bill Murray) ? Am I the only person who realizes that I’m stuck in a loop in time and teachers’ lives continue to be destroyed by the same corrupt processes ?

It is little wonder that government has ignored most of the report’s recommendations ! There was nothing new to consider or implement ... hardly surprising when teachers and victims of the process were not involved !