Saturday, 11 December 2010

Incest Is Rife

“This is like hiring the Ku Klux Klan to represent you in a desegregation case.” James McElroy

Prejudiced Duke Street Governors
Andrew Kidd Head Teacher
Elaine Haddon Teaching Assistant
Elaine Callan Nursery Nurse
Anne Callander Teacher
Sarah Ridley Deputy Head Teacher
Joan Quinton Teacher - Retired
Steve McLoughlin Parent Governor - Wife teacher
Nigel West Florist
Peter Whittle Nigel West’s Delivery Man
Jane Watts Teacher
The above listed people had been governors at Duke Street Primary School - including myself.

Andrew Kidd, head teacher (by default a governor) must be considered to be a hostile participant in my case. His role was supposed to have been impartial - the investigator has to have an open mind and it is for the governors to consider and judge the evidence. He continued to demonstrate through his actions that he held a significant resentment of me, not only as a teacher, but as a human being.
(Ref : Anonymous Text)

Elaine Haddon was the only witness to the incident. By definition, a hostile witness. (Another witness should have been the 5 year old girl. I would have expected to have seen reports produced by Social Services but there were none submitted !)

Elaine Callan, a hostile witness, whose testimony supported Elaine Haddon’s claim that I had been sitting on a stool using a whiteboard. Otherwise, her testimony was largely hearsay.

Anne Callander, another hostile witness, who claimed that I had admitted the assault to her whilst I was in a hysterical fit on the day of my suspension. Recently, she sent my partner an e-mail in which she admits that she had perjured herself. Her confusion had been apparent at both hearings.

(Elaine Haddon and Anne Callander are friends who meet socially and online through Facebook.)

Sarah Ridley had taught at Burscough Primary School where Andrew Kidd had been head teacher and they had shared the same class for some years. Andrew Kidd offered her a teaching post at Duke Street. Since then she has achieved an unprecedented, meteoric rise to deputy head teacher ... this resulted in understandable speculation by Duke Street staff !

Joan Quinton, a supply teacher, who filled my position throughout my suspension. I had known her over many years as a teacher at Duke Street. Her motivation was always that of self-interest. She had been a well liked teacher and had retired many years ago. It was to her financial benefit that I did not return to school !

Steve McLoughlin had an interest in protecting his wife who was a teacher at Duke Street. His wife, Janet, had been fearful of recrimination by Andrew Kidd - so much so, that, even though we had known one another for 20 years, she could not provide me with a character reference :

Nigel West is a local florist in Chorley, Marshalls. He has the contract for the school’s floral requirement and as such has a vested financial interest and therefore an obligation to Andrew Kidd.

Peter Whittle works for Nigel West as a delivery man. It seems unfair and incorrect that he should have attended my disciplinary hearing with his employer.

My hearings could never have been fair or impartial because everyone, in one way or another, had a vested interest.

Everyone knew one another; at best it was a confused mix of divided loyalties and personality clashes; at worst it was an outrageous theatrical farce !

There are 16 governors at Duke Street Primary School, 10 had a predetermined / vested interest in the outcome of my case. One governor was deliberately excluded and another is ‘intellectually challenged’ but had had their hair done for the occasion !

And that was just the tip of the iceberg ! Throw in a couple of Lancashire County Council HR managers who are not averse to adding their lies and to deliberately excluding the only trustworthy and upright Duke Street governor - Mohammed Naeem.

Christine Toward and Robert Sage are other governors of note who should have been prohibited from being involved with the judgement of my case.

Christine Toward had presided over my disciplinary hearing and Robert Sage over my appeal hearing.

They will feature in later discussion in subsequent blog entries.

I close with a special thanks to another governor, Lorraine Nicholls, school secretary. She approached me at the appeal hearing to let me know how much that she had been looking forward to the day and that she had had her hair done especially !

I hope that she enjoyed the day - it is reassuring to know that there was someone there who could recognize the significance and importance of the destruction of my life whilst still enjoying themselves ! (If you ever attend another hearing, don’t forget your knitting !)

Beat that Mary Antoinette !

Just for you Lorraine - At the execution of Mary Antoinette, Madame Tussaud sat knitting.

----- Original Message -----
From: Anne Callander
To: False Allegation
Sent: 05 January 2010 15:49
Subject: Anne Callander sent you a message on Facebook...

As a Headteacher myself I know that the safeguarding and protection of a child is paramount, above all other concerns, and there are procedures that simply have to be followed.

The outcome would have been so different and Jane would still be teaching today if she had accepted that she needed support during the difficult time she was having. Instead she chose a different route.

The Jane I once knew would have taken the correct advice and accept the support offered from the start. She would NOT have ignored the advice from her union, her friends and the supportive network at county. She would NOT have followed the corrosive and destructive path that was advised by her partner whose first contact with her after the suspension was to tell her to “Shut up and don’t say any more”.

None of this was reported at the hearing. I could have done had I chosen to, but I wanted to say as little as possible whilst still telling the TRUTH.

This was the stance I had taken all along which I now know was “sitting on the fence”. I also took this attitude during the phonecalls that I received from Jane possibly giving the impression that I was agreeing with her by responding with “mmmm” and expressive “oh nos” and the like.


Her e-mail continued but her actions clearly show that she was guilty of lying by omission :

“... I wanted to say as little as possible whilst still telling the TRUTH.”

In her e-mail, she also makes the statement :

“No doubt this is what led to Jane expecting me to lie for her at the hearing.”

I had no such expectation of her or of anyone else but she went ahead anyway and lied for her own reasons ! All that I ever wanted to be presented was the truth but it was witnesses like her and others that chose to lie for reasons that I will never understand that damned me to my life today.

She claims to be a friend but friends do not behave in such a manner - her intent was callous, malicious and scheming, her reasons and rationale are beyond comprehension.

She claims to care about children, their safety being paramount ... but her actions demonstrate that she cared nothing for the well-being of the 5 year old girl, Exxxx ... this is why existing policies and procedures that are there to protect children so often fail with such disastrous results ... because people like her determine their own versions of TRUTH and to hell with the consequences !

Neither I nor my partner can recollect him saying “Shut up and don’t say any more”. But it sounds like good advice when you have such evil and wicked people around who are more than willing and able to take advantage of a person who is suffering so much pain and mental anguish !

Anne Callander is also saying something in her e-mail that is so sinister yet undeniably has substance and validity :

“The outcome would have been so different and Jane would still be teaching today if she had accepted that she needed support during the difficult time she was having. Instead she chose a different route.”

There is an implication that the process of dealing with an allegation of assault by a teacher transcends the truth itself. This is what I have been saying all along – the truth per say was never of any importance. It might be that if I’d grovelled, respected my peers and been remorseful (for something that I’d not done) then somehow it would have all come out right – and bizarrely, I think that she’s probably correct in what she says !

Friday, 10 December 2010

The Lynch Mob

“The mob is man voluntarily descending to the nature of the beast. Its fit hour of activity is night. Its actions are insane like its whole constitution. It persecutes a principle; it would whip a right; it would tar and feather justice, by inflicting fire and outrage upon the houses and persons of those who have these. It resembles the prank of boys, who run with fire-engines to put out the ruddy aurora streaming to the stars.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Michael Gove Empowers and Sanctions Mob Rule

‘Mob Mentality’, ‘Herd Behaviour’, call it what you like, but we hear it all the time to do with emotive issues and some not so emotive ones. The type of mob rule we see when it comes to morals like child abuse is an example where people just talk and very rarely do anything about it.

Moral Panics have several distinct features. According to Goode and Ben-Yehuda, moral panic has the following characteristics :

Concern – There must be awareness that the behaviour of the group or category in question is likely to have a negative impact on society.

Hostility – Hostility towards the group in question increases, and they become ‘folk devils’. A clear division forms between ‘them’ and ‘us’.

Consensus – Though concern does not have to be nationwide, there must be widespread acceptance that the group in question poses a very real threat to society. It is important at this stage that the ‘moral entrepreneurs’ are vocal and the ‘folk devils’ appear weak and disorganised.

Disproportionality – The action taken is disproportionate to the actual threat posed by the accused group.
Especially poignant; the disproportionality of the perceived threat to the mob. The mob sees demons in every corner, supplied indeed by their own imaginations or perceived fears.

Volatility – Moral panics are highly volatile and tend to disappear as quickly as they appeared due to a wane in public interest or news reports changing to another topic.

On 27 September 2007, I was suspended for allegedly assaulting a child. I was not allowed to know the nature of the allegation until my arrest on 31 October 2007.

The police told me that I had been accused of slapping a 5 year old girl on the hand on the afternoon of 26 September 2007. The incident had been reported by Mrs. Haddon, a teaching assistant who had been working in my classroom.

Mrs. Haddon’s statement said :
“On the afternoon of Wednesday 26 September 2007 at approximately 2pm, I was working with 2 children on the table directly opposite to the table J Watts was working with a group of children.

A short while into the activity I heard J Watts shout, I looked up from what I was doing just as she was standing up, she reached over the desk to Exxxx, smacked her hand and snatched the pencil that was in the same hand from her.”

So here is the scene that was alleged :
A five year old girl writing at a circular table using a Staedtler pencil – large in comparison with her small hand. I reached over the 120 centimetre diameter table and slapped her hand, hard enough for it to be clearly audible across a classroom of 28 noisy children but not hard enough to knock away the pencil from her hand !

The police accepted my statement and passed comment on the validity of Mrs. Haddon’s version of events. They were concerned by the fact that Mrs. Haddon had waited 20 hours instead of reporting the incident immediately. The police added that they believed that I was being victimized. They asked me if there were bad feelings between myself and Mr. Kidd and Mrs. Haddon.

The police dismissed the case on 19 November 2007 … the case then moved from the ‘professionals’ to the school – the ‘lynch mob’ – Lancashire County Council, school governors all led by Mr. Kidd !

Whilst the police believed my statement, Mr. Kidd did not and he set about ‘proving what he believed and knew’. Evidence was fabricated and statements embellished – anything that might support my case was suppressed – Mr. Kidd said “Such evidence only served to ‘cloud the issue’ of what I believed and knew.”

Even in the hands of the police, there had been no real or concrete evidence that supported the case one way or another. Mr. Kidd changed that and presented a report to the ‘mob’ that established certainty – absolute and irrefutable evidence.

In the absence of commonsense and through the introduction of ‘mob rule’, the magnitude and scale of the alleged assault now increased beyond all recognition.

Mrs. Haddon and Mrs. Callan agreed that, at the time of the alleged assault, Exxxx had not cried or reacted nor had any of the other children who had been working at the table.

The police had been pragmatic and recognized the trivial nature of the so called ‘slap’ even if the incident had taken place.

By the time Mr. Kidd had finished, it was clear that Exxxx had been fortunate to escape with her life !

To explain the 20 hour delay in reporting the incident, Mrs. Haddon said that the assault had been so vicious, violent and unprovoked that she had suffered shock and had been unable to react. It had taken her many hours to recover from the effects of witnessing such an attack !

The ‘lynch mob’ responded to this dramatic and graphic image in sheer outrage. Mr. Kidd then added further impact by describing the mental state and anguish that Exxxx was still suffering. A year had nearly elapsed and poor Exxxx was still exhibiting signs of post traumatic abuse and bed wetting. She still remained in fear when coming to school just in case Mrs. Watts had returned.

The drama of it all proved too much for the ‘mob’ to bear and I was lynched by a group of so called responsible and upright citizens.

Everyone has experience of one form or another of the result of the ‘mob mentatility’. Sadly, the consequences, especially in those areas where children are involved, can be devastating.

Everyday there are news reports, public outcries for justice - and then it all goes quiet and the story becomes no more than a wrapper for fish and chips. Life returns to normal and nothing ever changes !

When will Michael Gove begin to appreciate the consequences of his policies and initiatives ? How many more innocent people will be lynched by the ‘angry mob’ that he has empowered ?

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Importance Of Teaching

Our document’s called “The Importance of Teaching” because we know that there is nothing which is more important in improving our school system than raising the prestige and esteem of the teaching profession and giving teachers more power over what happens in the classroom. That’s why we’ll be slimming back a lot of the regulation and bureaucracy that’s got in the way of teachers doing their job in the past and it’s why we’ll be giving teachers new powers to keep order and discipline in the classroom ...

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education

Behaviour and Discipline :
The requirement for 24-hours notice of detention will be abolished in legislation.
The DfE will issue a “short, clear, robust guide” on teachers’ power to use reasonable force, giving schools greater discretion on how to monitor these powers. Teachers will be able to search for pornography, tobacco and fireworks.
There will be statutory guidance to extend heads’ powers to punish pupils who misbehave on the way to or from school.
Anti bullying guidance will be simplified from 500 to 20 pages. Inspectors will be given more time to look for evidence on pupil behaviour, if there is bullying in school and how well it is dealt with, taking evidence from pupils and parents. Parents with concerns can ask Ofsted to inspect: they can decide how to proceed.
Allegations against teachers. The Association of Chief Police Officers is looking at how investigations in these cases can be speeded up. Heads will get guidance from the DfE to ensure teachers are not automatically suspended in these cases, and there will be legislation to ensure reporting restrictions prevent the identification of staff until they are charged with a criminal offence. The Government will clarify that referees should not be required to report allegations proved to be malicious or untrue.

We will better protect teachers from false allegations :
3.11 The fact that teachers are often the only adult in a classroom of young people means that they can be subject to false or even malicious allegations. In a recent survey, 50 per cent of staff questioned reported that they or a colleague have had a false allegation made against them. As well as being a distressing experience, this can affect career progression and damage the perception of teachers. So we will legislate to give anonymity to teachers accused by pupils and we will speed up the progress of investigations.
3.12 It is of course absolutely essential that genuine cases of misconduct or abuse are dealt with fairly and effectively. And to do this, false allegations need to be identified and dismissed quickly. Governors and head teachers should ensure that all allegations are investigated without delay. We will work with local authorities, the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to address this issue. ACPO are committed to looking at new ways in which investigations can be speeded up, without compromising their integrity, by eradicating all unnecessary delays.
3.13 Many head teachers have felt that the only option while investigating an allegation is to suspend the teacher in question, regardless of the nature or seriousness of the allegation. We will update guidance to schools to ensure that allegations against a teacher do not automatically result in their being suspended. Where there are no risks to children, we want to see alternatives explored so that teachers do not have to endure the stigma and speculation that accompanies suspension.
3.14 False allegations can damage teachers’ career prospects even once disproved. We will clarify that in future when employers are asked to give references for teachers they should never be required to report prior allegations which were found to be malicious or untrue. We will legislate to introduce reporting restrictions that prevent a teacher’s identity being revealed until the point at which they are charged with a criminal offence.
3.15 We will consider whether these measures should also be applied to the wider children’s workforce.

There have been several inspirational moments during my long fight and campaign for justice. One is especially relevant when, at a low point late one night, I e-mailed Michael Gove for help. He was online too and we exchanged a couple of e-mails and he closed his last by saying :

“Thank you for getting in touch. I very much sympathise with the terrible position you find yourself in. My heart goes out to you. And your position underlines my determination to provide more protection for teachers who’re falsely accused in the future.”

His sincerity gave me hope that maybe one day he might ‘champion’ the cause.

That was two years ago. Today, I feel differently and appreciate the ingenuous nature of people and politicians. He learned nothing of the life of a teacher or what tragic events can lie in wait for them.

Today, in his white paper, he claims to be providing increased powers, support and protection to the teacher. In truth, he is reinforcing the control and scope of the head teacher, governors and LEA and the teacher’s needs have not been addressed – worse their needs have not even been considered, examined or explored.

The head teacher is able to act with impunity, their actions being free from question or scrutiny – the consequence of an autonomous system. In many cases, it is the bully who now is being empowered with free reign and scope.

There is a naïve belief in the fact that everyone will behave fairly but they do not and can not – for they are judges in their own cause – so ‘natural justice’ will never be delivered.

The head teacher said, at my appeal hearing, that he knew that I was guilty of the assault from the day of the allegation. He said that he collected evidence and statements that supported his belief and rejected anything that, in his opinion, only served to ‘cloud the issue’. Lancashire County Council staff knew that there were documented reports of the significant resentment that was held by the head teacher toward myself but their HR staff lied about this fact at my appeal hearing. (Lancashire County Council’s failures and corrupt behaviour is detailed in my entry Sweep It Under The Rug).

I believe, that through my head teacher’s enthusiasm and his malicious intent, a point of no return was reached where it became impossible for Lancashire County Council to back track. To do so would have created a complex situation involving school staff, governors and the head teacher. So Lancashire County Council staff lied at my appeal hearing and pushed through a false finding of my guilt - with the knowledge that their actions would never be investigated. They knew that my health had deteriorated to the point where I was too ill to return to teaching. So they reinstated my position which then denied me the opportunity to take my case to an employment tribunal.

As allegations of abuse are relatively rare, a school can never have the experience and skills necessary to investigate allegations and to manage a case properly.

At best, the teacher is subjected to a theatrical farce where logical argument is replaced by purely emotional decisions by those who may well being ‘doing their best’.

In my case, the governors had no experience or training in handling allegations of abuse. My appeal hearing was like an obscene cross between the execution of Mary Antoinette and an episode from Kavanagh, QC. Two governors even told me how excited they were and that they had been looking forward to it for weeks; adding that they had had their hair done specially for the day !

It seems that there a few who really want to look at the failings of the system. The press and media favour the ‘poor teacher’ story so there’s a wealth of such articles, my own included. The unions claim to have worked on the problem for 20 years but they have achieved nothing. I believe that the unions are guilty of complacency and are responsible for the continuance and acceptance of a situation that can result in suicides – it kills people !

The government have done nothing to correct it – its failure to do so is nothing short of disgraceful negligence. Barry Sheerman, MP did get very close to describing the problem – he said that all that a teacher needs is ‘natural justice’.

And there it is in a nutshell :

“A teacher needs ‘Natural Justice’”

Sadly Barry Sheerman missed the significance of his own words.

Recently Chris Rider, BBC journalist produced the first programme that looks tentatively at the failings of the process. It was broadcast on Radio Lancashire last week. It identified the key failing to be that the school and LEA are both the judge and jury of allegations against teachers. There it is – a teacher can never receive ‘natural justice’ !

So Mr. Cameron and Mr. Gove, I have done your work for you – all that you need to do with your white paper is to amend it so that the teacher will be protected by a framework that guarantees them ‘natural justice’. Do that and we’re all winners !

The white paper sets great store on teacher’s anonymity being a crucial concern. In an ideal world it might be but it must be remembered that it is a school and rumours spread fast. Any expectation of confidentiality is unrealistic. However, this should not suggest that the school can release the story to the media – which is precisely what they did for me, supported by comment by Lancashire County Council.

The other issue is that of returning to work whilst an investigation is underway. I strongly suggest that we stop listening to the unions and use commonsense or psychiatric comment. Try to imagine what it might feel like to a professional teacher when an allegation is made. Your world is shattered instantly – suddenly every facet of your life falls apart. You can barely live let alone work – and can you comprehend what it would feel like to return to the scene of the so called crime ?

What is needed is very fast and comprehensive support for the teacher. The case too must be progressed with speed. It is not unreasonable for a police investigation to take a month to reach a conclusion. The aim should be not more than another month before any other investigative process is completed. That’s a total of 2 months and I believe that to be acceptable. Again, there needs to be an inquiry into why it takes schools years to complete their process – the cynical reason is that the dust will have settled, life’s moved on at school and the teacher and their story is no longer of any import.

Finally, consideration MUST be made of the damage that has been done. Financial compensation, early retirement, long term support to assist the teacher to reintegrate must be considered. We can not ignore an allegation and the priority must always be to the child but we must accept a responsibility to the injured party – and that will be the teacher on most occasions.

It seems wrong that government white papers should be written badly to the extent that they are open to misinterpretation :

“It is of course absolutely essential that genuine cases of misconduct or abuse are dealt with fairly and effectively.”

Surely all cases should be treated fairly and effectively ? There is also a very nasty implication that is inferred in the above statement that is a continuance of the major complaint of the system – a teacher is guilty from the start and that they then have to prove their innocence !

In all previous cases of allegations against teachers, I have considered the case where the allegation is false yet the teacher is found guilty.

I have recently been made aware of cases where an allegation is founded but the school choose to deliberately suppress the allegation in favour of the school’s and the teacher’s good name. Again, as nothing is open to scrutiny by a third party and there is no way to appeal to an external agency then this eventuality is possible.

So what do we have ? We have a system that does not work and never has in the past. It is a system that can put children at risk and kills teachers. It is a system that deters good teachers from entering the profession. It is a system that encourages and empowers the bully. It is a system that encourages good teachers to leave the profession. Everyone is a loser with this system - let us work together to make a system that does work !

House of Commons
Wednesday 24 November 2010
The House met at half-past Eleven o'clock
[Mr Speaker in the Chair]
Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office

The Minister for the Cabinet Office was asked :

David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale) (Con): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his excellent White Paper. What measures does it contain to protect teachers from false allegations made by disruptive pupils ?

Michael Gove: It was a pleasure to meet teachers in my hon. Friend’s constituency during the local election campaign two years ago. I know that they will welcome our proposals to ensure that investigations are speeded up when teachers face false allegations, and to ensure that they enjoy anonymity if such allegations are made. We will also tell head teachers that there should be no automatic suspension of teachers when they exercise legitimate authority in the classroom.

Jane Watts (Chorley ex-teacher): Amazing ! Years of data collation, reports, meetings and recommendations. Dozens of suicides, families and careers destroyed and you come up with something as radical as a chocolate teaspoon ! Anonymity and not being suspended are as much use to a teacher as a bicycle is to a fish ! Why can not a teacher receive ‘natural justice’ as a priority ? Why can not a teacher be compensated for the damage to their health and career ? You really do know how to make a teacher feel safe, protected and so important !

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Helen Denton - LCC

Executive Director for Children & Young People, Lancashire County Council (2008- )

Tel. (44)1772 254868

Helen Denton was appointed on 1 August 2008, following the retirement of Pat Jefferson.

She was born in Blackpool and started her career as a secondary teacher in Moss Side, Manchester before a spell as head of home economics in a school in Hong Kong. On returning to the UK, she completed her Masters degree, worked for the Department for Education & Science and then began her career in local government with Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council.

Initially appointed as an Assistant Education Officer, she gained experience across a range of areas before becoming an Assistant Director with broad responsibilities across the inclusion services. A move to Leeds City Council followed to be Head of Service for Children and Families and she was then appointed as Assistant Education Director for Sefton Metropolitan Council.

Over the years I have written to her to express my concerns with regard to the failings of her departments and their members in my case.

Without qualification, she replied : “I do not feel that it is in the best interests of all of the parties involved for this to be re-examined.”

I also provided Helen Denton with evidence showing that a ‘key’ hostile witness, Anne Callander, had lied and perjured themselves at both the disciplinary and appeal hearings.

She immediately replied : “I do not see that does anything to change the current position with regard to your own closed case, so the situation remains that no further action will be taken within Lancashire County Council.”

16 November 2010 - Helen Denton
courtesy BBC Radio Lancashire - Graham Liver

03 March 2009 - Barry Sheerman, MP
Chair of the House of Commons Select Committee For Children, Schools and Families
courtesy BBC Radio 4 - File on 4

I would suggest that he should make a start with Helen Denton ! (The contrast between what she believes and what he knows is immense; as is his sense of compassion.)

The system’s not fair ! Hmm … I don’t think that I would agree with that ! I think probably we have to say what is the most important thing that we’re doing and that’s keeping our children and young people safe. And in any system we have to have a balance between the needs of children and young people and their parents because parents entrust us with their children and they entrust us to keep them safe.
This is indeed the responsibility of a school and LEA – to keep children safe. Who therefore has responsibility for ensuring the safety and security of a teacher ? There is clearly a conflict of interest that can never be overcome during a case of an allegation of assault by a member staff against a pupil. The requirements for ‘Natural Justice’ can never be met without the intervention of a wholly independent third party.

The governors are in a very difficult position in terms of having to take the word of one member of staff against another.
Again this is why the hearing panel should be independent and trained. It is simply not possible to reliably judge truth in such circumstances and the panel would need to proceed with extreme caution. The ultimate suggestion would be the introduction of a polygraph examination – which I would recommend as a simple yet reliable solution for such situations.

The head master and the governors; they basically sit as judge and jury and the teachers that we’ve been talking to don’t think that’s fair. Yes. Hmm. Our advice to the governors is that they have to keep the vast majority of governors separate from any investigations that take place.
Dead right ! Typical politician ! Little wonder that Helen never answered the question. How can anyone believe that a head teacher and his governing body could ever provide an impartial outcome for any teacher ?

The whole thing is so incestuous – all in bed together ! It’s obscene and outrageous – this is not justice and never could be. The head teacher and governors have their own agenda as does the LEA. The governors have a responsibility to support the head teacher, sometimes without question ! The teacher will be known to the governors.

I had been a governor at Duke Street. The teaching assistant who made the accusation is a governor. The supply teacher who filled my post was a governor. Two hostile witnesses were also governors. The chair of governors resigned over my case. At my disciplinary hearing, I was judged by a florist (Nigel West of Marshalls) and his delivery man. The same florist, now chair of governors, has the contract to supply Duke Street with its floral requirements. How incestuous a relationship do you want ? This was never fair, never impartial and never honest !

It would be very difficult in any circumstances to keep the anonymity of somebody entirely free.
Anonymity will never be easy to ensure and protect; however it would not be expected that the LEA would provide press releases to all local newspapers – they did in my case and on three occasions ! They also failed to alert me to the fact that they had spoken with the press and that a story would be featured.

You know it’s with great sorrow that we would lose very good teachers but there aren’t a very significant proportion of them.
Ho hum … thank goodness there’s only a few teachers whose lives have been destroyed. Remember too that these teachers can end up losing their families and several have committed suicide. How can anyone show such brutal callousness and outright cruelty ? How many would Helen Denton like to see before she considers it to be of concern. Surely one teacher is enough ! Teachers, in these situations, should be compensated for the damage to their careers and lives.

We have to be seen to be keeping children safe and parents would expect us to do that.
Here again is the crux of the injustice. Surely we should be keeping children safe – being ‘seen’ to do so sounds like ‘lip service’. And this is the problem – sacking a teacher, even though innocent, is a politically correct decision that costs nothing and enhances the image of the school, LEA and Helen Denton !

She is dangerously close to sanctioning and authorizing behaviour and processes that are not dissimilar to those of the ‘Salem Witch Trials’ of the 1690’s using exactly the same rationale and paranoid argument !

The system and everybody within it tries to do everything that they can both to support those people who are going through that process and also to make it is as fair and equitable as possible in terms of ensuring that they conduct a proper investigation and thoroughly consider the facts in terms of whenever they take any action against a teacher on the grounds of their professional conduct.
They don’t try very hard ! What support did you provide me ? – Absolutely nothing ! Lancashire County Council sanctioned an investigation by a narcissistic head teacher who had a documented history of resentment toward me. They ignored presented facts and mistakes were made in the final reports. They excluded governors from hearings. Senior HR departmental staff lied – Vic Welch for example. Lancashire County Council took full control of my appeal hearing; the governing body played no part in this farce. 95% of all questions originated from Anne Sutton (HR). In short, it was Lancashire County Council who found me guilty and at all costs !
(ref : Sweep It Under The Rug)

It would be very difficult to see how the system could change to make it fairer.
Well there we go ! A very brave statement, usually reserved for idiots and those about to experience what it feels like to put their ‘foot in their mouth’ ! No system is 100% perfect and this one just does not work at all !

Here’s a suggestion; Why not ask the teachers what they would like to happen ?

By the way, you will find that you can see a lot better with your eyes open !

Helen Denton has the authority, power and control to make a difference, to make changes, to introduce fresh initiatives to help resolve a nightmare for all teachers. Her problem is that it is simpler to sack a teacher, to take their career and their life to appease parents and public alike – child protection is ‘seen’ to be paramount.

It takes a strong stomach to undertake such an act, there can be no regret, no remorse, no sorrow, no heart or compassion. This fact is exemplified in Helen Denton’s radio presentation for she expresses no mention or reference to caring for the teacher.

She knows that I speak the truth. She knows that I did nothing. She knows that I have experienced utter humiliation, destruction of career and life through no fault. She knows that her staff lied, governors lied and that the head teacher, Andrew Kidd, lied. She knows that I never received fair nor impartial treatment or support. She can not reopen my case for she already knows that the outcome would result in the destruction of large and key elements of her own world and that of the school. She also knows that I will never stop. One day the truth ‘will out’ for me and many other teachers.

I challenge her for I can substantiate what I say. She can not for her claims are false and without substance.

Some may wonder why I have not taken action through Lancashire County Council’s own complaints procedure. This course of action was suggested to me by both David Cameron and Michael Gove earlier this year. The ‘Catch 22’ is that Lancashire County Council can veto complaints that they don’t like and this is how they treated my complaint !

Others have suggested taking legal action, embarking on a suit of malfeasance against Lancashire County Council but that requires enormous funds and I have no resources.

So, unless you know of an altruistic legal team, I am reliant on the investigative power of journalists.

I close this entry with my ultimate horror episode. No one, not even Helen Denton, should experience how this feels. It is an event that will live with me forever and, even today, I can not listen to this recording.

31 October 2007 - Jane Watts
courtesy HM Police - Leyland, Preston

It would take a hardened criminal to even consider lying under the stress of a police arrest interview and it is something that even a humble reception teacher is not equipped !

I will say, contrary to what Helen Denton might say, is that this was the only time that I was treated with any humility, kindness and sensitivity. The police have a terrible job to do but they do it well and I thank them !

“I do not feel that it is in the best interests of all of the parties involved for this to be re-examined.”
Helen Denton

It is not in your best interests nor those who were involved in this travesty of justice.

It is, however, in my best interest and of every teacher in the United Kingdom and even the rest of the world !

Ultimately, radical reform will result in improvements in security and safety for child, parent and teacher - which is what everyone wants - Natural Justice !
Jane Watts

Please help me to make a difference – three years of utter misery and struggle is too much to bear. I have fought with honour and dignity throughout but I want an end to my life like this for this is not living, it is a slow death – a prisoner can expect better treatment. For a prisoner there is an end but for me this injustice will be with me forever – every day, every hour, every minute for the rest of my life – it will never fade … imagine how it feels to be wrongly accused of assaulting a child ! Help me to bring those who are responsible to account. Help me to clear my name.

I invite representatives of the media to contact me. Please help me to continue my fight - there is a story of corruption, suffering and is of enormous significance to 450,000 teachers and to the rest of British society - let me continue to tell my story !

Jane Watts :

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

BBC - Fighting For Justice

I wish to express my sincerest thanks and gratitude to Chris Rider, BBC, for affording me such an opportunity to share my thoughts and opinions with so many listeners and for his insight and appreciation of the nature of the problem.

For me this has been a significant milestone. I have been campaigning against the process that destroys so many lives; my own included.

Finally, here is a presentation that has examined the process and not focussed on what I term to be ‘a poor teacher’s story’.

This programme is only the start but it is a beginning. My intention is to be there at the end for I will never stop fighting !

15 November 2010 - Steve Becker, David Roy, Jenni Watson

16 November 2010 - Jane Watts, Ken Cridland, Helen Denton
courtesy BBC Radio Lancashire - Graham Liver

Teachers’ appeal process unfair says Lancashire NUT
BBC News 16 November 2010

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

NASUWT - Déjà Vu

Another year on and here is another response by Chris Keates to recent press coverage of allegations against teachers.

Like a broken record, her words are those uttered last year, the year before and every year since the dawn of time - well, some 20 years !

Nothing has ever changed and nothing ever will without the aggressive determination of individuals to introduce radical reform and overhaul of existing systems.

NASUWT calls to stop teachers’ lives being devastated by false and unfounded allegations
Tuesday, 10, Aug 2010 10:27

Responding to BBC figures on the number of allegations made against teachers by parents and pupils in the last year, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“All allegations made by children and young people must be taken seriously and properly investigated.”
‘Properly investigated’ is the crucial key - at the moment, the only professional, trained and accountable body is the police. The LEA and school have a responsibility to the child and parents - they are obliged to err on the side of caution and can not be expected or trusted to undertake an impartial and fair investigation - worse, they can behave improperly, safe in the knowledge that their actions are not subject to scrutiny by any third party.

“These figures confirm the evidence from the NASUWT’s data which demonstrates that teachers are particularly vulnerable to allegations but that in the overwhelming majority of cases these allegations are false or unfounded.”
Another failing is that no one is prepared to address a teacher’s vulnerability. A teacher needs support; other than their union, they are reliant solely on their head teacher. The use of video cameras in the classroom has become a necessary consideration and I would suggest that all teachers be equipped with personal worn surveillance devices. To do nothing to protect the teacher is a crime in itself.

The sad reality is that such evidential data is based on the abject misery of so many people’s lives that have been destroyed. Isn’t just one person’s suffering and experience sufficient in itself ?

“More work needs to be done in tackling this issue which continues to devastate teachers' personal lives and professional careers.”
In order for ‘more work to be done’ it is necessary to make a start. Nothing has been done to alleviate this problem - Chris Keates is proud to say that she’s committed 20 years of work to the problem - exactly what has she achieved ? Nothing ! Not even basic training to keep teachers safe - no advisory documentation only a continuance of the same hollow and empty words !

“Teachers subject to allegations are often presumed guilty unless they can prove their innocence. Innocent teachers often find they will never be exonerated and are permanently and unfairly stigmatised.”
This is a classic piece of NASUWT phraseology that conveys no detail. ‘Presumed guilty’ – by whom ? In my case, it was the LEA and school that not only presumed my guilt, they predetermined my guilt prior to any investigation. Any conflicting evidence gathered during the investigative period was ignored by them. They then proceeded at any cost, including fabricating evidence and lying, to prove my guilt.

The other stark reality is that, by default, you will feel guilty – try experiencing being arrested and someone, like the NASUWT, telling you that it’s a necessary formality and that no one is presuming your guilt !

As for being exonerated – how ? A press statement expressing profuse apologies ? There is no recovery for a teacher who was wrongly accused. In the end, a teacher can not escape “there’s no smoke without fire” mentality and many will resign quietly, their career and life in tatters through no fault. They will never be able to trust other teachers, authority and their fear of recrimination by parents and children will be ever present.

“Our evidence shows that once the nature of the allegation and the identity of a teacher are known, a witch-hunt will ensue, damaging irreparably the teacher’s health, family relationships and professional reputation.”

“Introducing a legal provision to provide anonymity for school staff up to the point of conviction would safeguard the health and welfare of individuals against whom allegations are made and enable these staff to return back to school life with some professional and personal dignity.”

“A major outstanding problem that blights teachers’ careers is the wide variation in the recording and reporting by the police of so-called ‘soft’ information connected with an allegation and its investigation. More needs to be done to ensure consistent and appropriate practice by the police in the recording and disclosure of information to employers and other bodies.”

“The system is stacked against innocent teachers who are unable to prove their innocence or obtain the exoneration they deserve.”

“Allegations kept on file even when there is no case against the individual means that these teachers remain under a veil of suspicion throughout the entirety of their working lives.”

“Over the last decade, a raft of measures has been introduced to enable teachers to maintain order and discipline in the classroom. However, this is meaningless if a teacher’s professional integrity can be fatally undermined as a result of a false allegation made against them.”

(The NASUWT has maintained a national database of allegations against teachers since 1991. Details of the statistics are available on request.)

I close this blog entry with a personal plea to journalists and television producers. A new government is now in power, uttering the same statements and promises to improve education and the powers of teachers. But the very same problems continue unaddressed, unresolved and unabated.

It’s easy to publish cold statistics and to illustrate the destruction of an individual teacher’s career and entire life in a typical ‘poor teacher’ sob story. Isn’t it time that this whole mess was critically and publicly analyzed in depth ? Isn’t it time to better the education for our children through improving working conditions for some 450,000 teachers ?

I wish my case and my story investigated - it’s a story worth hearing and it is like the film - ‘Enemy of the State’ !

Help me to make a difference - help me to bring the injustice of my story to the attention of the public. I’ve done the ‘poor teacher’ story - help me to fight back - to win a campaign that will help all teachers - something that Chris Keates has failed to achieve in 20 years of work and effort !

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Sweep It Under The Rug

If I was not innocent then :
  • I would have immediately reported the incident myself.
  • I would have confessed during the police interview at the time of my arrest. (Until you experience being arrested, you can not imagine the stress of the situation. It would take a much harder individual to consider lying under such circumstances !)
  • I would not have appealed against the findings of the disciplinary hearing.
  • I would not have undergone a polygraph examination to prove my innocence.
  • I would not have passed the polygraph examination.
  • I would not have exhausted my life’s savings in legal defence costs.
  • I would not have written about my experience and my opinions on a public blog.
  • I would not have allowed my story to be exposed and reported by the media.
  • I would not have shared information with senior members of government, including Gordon Brown, Ed Balls, Jack Straw, David Cameron, Michael Gove and Barry Sheerman.
  • I would not have contributed material to the House of Commons Select Committee Meeting of 17 June 2009.
  • I would not have written to Her Majesty The Queen.
  • I would not continue to fight against this injustice.
I can prove that :
  • Lancashire County Council failed to provide ‘natural justice’.
  • Lancashire County Council denied me all my rights that were applicable to the policies and procedures relating to ‘Handling Allegations Against Staff’.
  • Lancashire County Council sanctioned an investigation by the head teacher knowing that there was a history of significant resentment.
  • Lancashire County Council denied my request to appear before an independent panel of governors due to the complex inter-relationships that existed between Duke Street Primary School governors and witnesses that precluded any possibility of a fair hearing. (The hostile witnesses were governors of the school. Another governor was the supply teacher who filled my vacancy - it was to her financial benefit that I did not return.)
  • Lancashire County Council sanctioned an untrained and inexperienced disciplinary hearing committee that comprised a local florist and his employee. (All floral requirements of the school were supplied by this committee member !)
  • Lancashire County Council intentionally excluded a governor at the appeal hearing.
  • Lancashire County Council denied any consideration of character references / statements.
  • Lancashire County Council attempted to silence me through litigation - they threatened me with a breach of the ‘principles of confidentiality’.
  • Lancashire County Council attempted to silence me through bribery - they offered me £10,000 on the proviso that I did not discuss my case with anyone - including my own family !
  • Lancashire County Council prevented the involvement of one member of their staff from speaking on my behalf.
  • Lancashire County Council reinstated my position yet upheld the allegation of assault. Their action had only one intent - to prevent me taking my case before an independent and impartial hearing at an employment tribunal.
  • The head teacher’s investigation and report was biased and set out to prove guilt at any and all costs.
  • Evidence and statements that did not support the head teacher’s ‘beliefs’ were excluded.
  • Statements were not signed or dated. The signatures and dates on my statement were removed.
  • The hearing committees were not thorough in their consideration of presented evidence. (They missed fundamental context of my statement.)
  • One key ‘hostile’ witness intentionally lied. Her decision to lie and to ‘lie by omission’ not only prejudiced my case but that of the child. Her action, as a teacher, failed to honour and respect the safety of children.
  • The school had failed to adhere to child protection policies. At the time of the allegation, staff had received no Child Protection training for over three years. There were staff working with children whose CRB status had not been verified.
    (I had occasion to write to Helen Denton’s predecessor, Pat Jefferson, on this very point.)
I have written to Helen Denton, Lancashire County Council, Executive Director for Children and Young People on several occasions to express my concerns with regard to the failings of her departments and their members.

Without qualification, she replied : “I do not feel that it is in the best interests of all of the parties involved for this to be re-examined.”

On Monday, 11 January 2010, I provided Helen Denton with evidence showing that a ‘key’ hostile witness had lied and perjured themselves at both the disciplinary and appeal hearings.

Helen Denton immediately replied : “I do not see that does anything to change the current position with regard to your own closed case, so the situation remains that no further action will be taken within Lancashire County Council.”

Lancashire County Council had not even started considering the evidence that I provided, how can they then say it has no bearing on my case ?

Understanding the reasons why one witness chose to lie might provide a basis for explaining why others also lied.

Nothing has made any sense throughout my case.

It was claimed that I hit the girl so hard that she continued to suffer from post-traumatic abuse a year later. It was agreed that, at the time, she showed no reaction nor did any other children – that is not possible … it sounds like another ‘immaculate conception’ story … but I know it never happened – that is the truth and that’s what I can not bear and I will have to fight that injustice forever !

I was judged on ‘Balance of Probability’. Even in this brief summary, can anyone believe that I am guilty ?

The problem for Lancashire County Council is that they dare not and can not allow my case to be re-examined. To do so, would expose their failings and all those directly involved whose actions and inactions resulted in the destruction of my career and my life.

So their only recourse is to continue to ‘sweep it under the rug’ and then to ‘look the other way’.

They know that I will continue in my ultimate goal - I want the justice that they denied me - and the girl, for she was not given justice either.

I want my case re-examined by an independent body who are experienced and impartial - is that too much to ask ?

How much would it cost ? Very little. The value to me would be incalculable as would the lessons to be learnt that might benefit everyone in the future.

All that I want is justice and an end to my suffering and pain - a time when I can move on with my life and never have to look back at what is approaching three years of utter horror and from which there is no escape !

Today, the very core and fabric of my life has been destroyed. I am effectively homeless as my financial state is such that I could no longer afford the mortgage payments on my home ...

... a criminal is given better and fairer treatment and regard to them as a person. At least they can expect an impartial trial before a qualified judge and jurors. A criminal can appeal and not expect to come before the same quango court. A criminal is sentenced to a fixed term and can expect remission. A criminal has an expectation of a life at the end of their sentence. There is an end to the incarceration of a criminal. I did not experience such luxuries nor do I have any hope for the future.

All that I wish for is that my name be cleared and an end to this torment – living with the knowledge that I am innocent and did not receive a fair hearing is a burden that continues to devour my life.

Any miscarriage of justice is a travesty – all that I request is that my case be re-opened and re-assessed. I want to answer all questions before an impartial audience – to be given ‘natural justice’.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Lies Of Omission

To lie by omission is to remain silent and thereby withhold from someone else a vital piece (or pieces) of information. The silence is deceptive in that it gives a false impression to the person from whom the information was withheld. It subverts the truth; it is a way to manipulate someone into altering their behavior to suit the desire of the person who intentionally withheld the vital information; and, most importantly, it’s a gross violation of another person’s right of self-determination.

A lie of omission is the most insidious, most pervasive, and most common lie on the entire planet. Commonly, those who use this type of lie, have conned themselves into believing that to intentionally remain silent when ethical behavior calls for one to speak up is not a lie at all. In spite of overwhelming evidence that their silence deceives, misleads, and often causes untold grief and misery, they refuse to speak the truth.

There is also the common misconception that intentional deception by silence has no consequences. Lies of commission (telling a lie) and lies of omission (withholding the truth) are both acts of intention deception.

To lie is to make statements that are untrue, when the falsity of such statements is known or suspected by the speaker. A lie can be a genuine falsehood or a selective truth, a lie by omission, or even the truth if the intention is to deceive or to cause an action not in the listener’s interests. A lie (also called prevarication) is a type of deception in the form of an untruthful statement, especially with the intention to deceive others, often with the further intention to maintain a secret or reputation, protect someone’s feelings or to avoid a punishment. To lie is to state something that one knows to be false or that one has not reasonably ascertained to be true with the intention that it be taken for the truth by oneself or someone else.

Startling to most people is that, in considering whether a statement is a lie, the least important consideration is whether it is true ! The more important considerations are : Did he believe it ? Did he intend to deceive ? Was he trying to gain some advantage or to harm someone else ? Is it a serious matter, or a trivial one ? Even a true statement can be considered a lie if the person making that statement is doing so to deceive. It is the intent of being untruthful rather than the truthfulness of the statement itself that is considered. How can that be ? If a completely truthful and accurate statement is deliberately delivered in a manner that suggests that it should not be taken seriously, then it is a lie. Also, it is a lie when a person accidentally makes a true statement when he thought it was false. It’s the intent to lie that makes it a lie.

Reasons For Not Lying
Philosophers over the millennia have agreed that there is no good reason for lying. Their most important arguments are :

  1. Lying is a perversion of the natural faculty of speech, the natural end of which is to communicate the thoughts of the speaker.
  2. When one lies, one undermines trust in society.
There are different kinds of lies that have different effects and severity. The most important categories of lies are as follows :

A fabrication is a lie told when someone submits a statement as truth, without knowing for certain whether or not it actually is true. Although a fabrication may be possible or plausible, it is not based on fact. Rather, it is something made up, or it is a misrepresentation of the truth. Example of fabrication : A person giving directions to a tourist when the person doesn’t actually know the directions.

Bold-Faced Lie
A bold-faced lie (often also referred to as bare-faced or bald-faced lie) is one which is told when it is obvious to all concerned that it is a lie. For example, a child who has chocolate all around his mouth and denies that he has eaten any chocolate has told a bold-faced lie. There are political statements that are way beyond exaggeration that would fall in this category.

Lies Of Omission
One lies by omission by omitting an important fact, deliberately leaving another person with a misconception. Lying by omission includes failures to correct pre-existing misconceptions. An example is when the seller of a car declares it has been serviced regularly but does not tell that an unrepaired fault was reported at the last service. Another example of lying by omission happens when one person witnesses, or has knowledge of, a lie by a second person to a third (who subsequently relies upon the veracity of the lie) but does not inform the third person of the lie; Here, two people are lying to the third person.

Misleading Statement
A misleading statement is one where there is no outright lie, but still retains the purpose of getting someone to believe in an untruth. Dissembling likewise describes the presentation of facts in a way that is literally true, but intentionally misleading. Sarcasm and obfuscation are frequently used to mislead or dissemble.

Contextual Lies
One can state part of the truth out of context, knowing that without complete information, it gives a false impression. Quoting out of context is a classic example. Likewise, one can actually state accurate facts, yet deceive with them. To say “Yeah, that’s right, I slept with your best friend” utilizing a sarcastic, offended tone, may cause the listener to assume the speaker did not mean what he said, when in fact he did.

For children, lying is a learned habit : Evolutionary psychology is concerned with the theory of mind which people employ to simulate another’s reaction to their story and determine if a lie will be believable. The most commonly cited milestone in the rising of this, what is known as Machiavellian Intelligence, is at the human age of about four and a half years, when children begin to be able to lie convincingly. Before this, they seem simply unable to comprehend that anyone doesn’t see the same view of events that they do - and seem to assume that there is only one point of view - their own - that must be integrated into any given story. If we grew up and lived in total isolation, lies would not exist for lack of need - there would be no one to lie to !

When children first learn how lying works, they lack the moral understanding of when to refrain from doing it. It takes years of watching people tell lies, and the results of these lies, to develop a proper understanding. Propensity to lie varies greatly between children, some doing so habitually and others being habitually honest. Habits in this regard are likely to change in early adulthood. Some never learn this lesson, or at least not the universality of the lesson. In one respect, they are lying to themselves for thinking that it is acceptable to lie when it is convenient or to their perceived benefit.

One standard form of legal oath before making a deposition or taking the witness stand in a court trial is “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth ?” For which the proper response is “I do.” There’s a reason for making the oath so complicated. It’s a reminder to the deposed and the witness how not to lie. The first clause (tell the truth) is the affirmation part of the oath, the second clause (the whole truth) reminds the oath taker to leave nothing out, that is, no lying by omission, no out-of-context lies, and no misleading statements, and the last clause (nothing but the truth) is a reminder to relate no falsehoods, including fabrications.