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.”
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
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 !