Friday, 4 November 2011

Lies, Damn Lies ...

“It is not only pupils and parents that level malicious accusations against teachers it is school governors, local authority representatives and even other teachers. Teachers sabotage one another and LEAs have whispering campaigns in order to scupper colleagues. There needs to be renewed emphasis on morality all round and the immediate dismissal and prosecution of anyone maliciously damaging another person’s reputation.”
Comment Daily Telegraph 15 Oct 2011

I was innocent of the allegations that were levied at me 4 years ago. I became the first teacher in the UK to undergo polygraph examination in a vain attempt to prove my innocence.

The problem is that when you have a malicious head teacher, a weak and inexperienced board of governors and a confused / corrupt LEA HR department then you’ve got a recipe for utter disaster.

No one has even bothered to ask why a school’s investigative process can take 6 months or more. What are they doing during that time ? The answer is nothing - time allows everyone to forget who you once were - the incident and its detail becomes blurred and all the while your mental state spirals out of control.

I lost everything because people lie - 30 years in teaching - it reached a point where they had to lie otherwise so many heads would roll ... the LEA tried to gag me by offering to pay me off if I kept quiet (A pittance of £10,000 !).

So what is needed is a system where malicious, vindictive and corrupt behaviour can be detected and rooted out. An accusation MUST be heard and investigated - but the process must not be dealt with by the school or LEA - it needs independent and accountable trained agencies and the teacher must have support - and not from their union - they are guilty of allowing this travesty to exist for over 20 years.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Why Kill Yourself ?

“They tell us that suicide is the greatest piece of cowardice... that suicide is wrong; when it is quite obvious that there is nothing in the world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person.”

The procedure when dealing with allegations of abuse by teachers is horrendous for the accused. The strict adherence to Child Protection Policy means that the affected teacher is required to immediately leave the school, speak to nobody, and wait at home for further instruction by the relevant authority. Suspended from duty, and in a state of considerable anguish, some teachers have had to wait up to two years or more for their case to be heard in court. In the interim many suffered broken relationships, mental breakdowns, bankruptcy, and some even committed suicide.

I too have contemplated suicide – I still do today as I have no money, no job and I lost my home. Two years ago, one lonely and despondent evening, I exchanged a couple of e-mails ‘live’ with Michael Gove. He closed his last e-mail with :

“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.”

The other day on interview, he said : “We need to restore the authority of a teacher and that’s why we’re giving them new powers to make it easier to exclude or to detain children who misbehave and to protect them from false allegations.”

All that Michael Gove has given teachers is the forlorn and unrealistic expectation that their case will be dealt with anonymously and powers that will back-fire on the teacher. He knows that teachers need protection and support. He knows that the process for handling allegations against teachers will inflict incalculable damage to such an extent that some commit suicide, most will never return to teaching. “Anonymity” doesn’t sound like a form of protection ? Troops going into battle expect better protection than ‘anonymity’ !

Protection : That which protects or preserves from injury; a defence; a shield; a refuge.

No, that definition of protection makes no reference to anonymity or maybe Michael Gove has a different dictionary !

The bottom line is that Michael Gove has not given teachers protection or support. No one has addressed the problem and dangers of allegations against teachers. Until that fact is understood and resolved, teachers will continue to suffer and live in fear and education standards will continue to erode.

Michael Gove, his advisors, union leaders and all educational bureaucrats are fully aware of the most dreadful impact on the life of a teacher on the day when they become accused of an assault on a child.

They know that the teacher will be subjected to inhuman levels of stress and pain to such an extent that some will kill themselves – a quantifiable fact.

Is it murder ? To deliberately subject any human being to stress with no regard for them or their feelings, knowing that they will be broken and destroyed by the process; suicide, in these circumstances, by definition, must be murder.

Legal Analysis of Murder
William Blackstone (citing Edward Coke), in his Commentaries on the Laws of England set out the common law definition of murder as :

“when a person, of sound memory and discretion, unlawfully killeth any reasonable creature in being and under the king’s peace, with malice aforethought, either express or implied”

The first few elements are relatively straightforward; however, the concept of “malice aforethought” is a complex one that does not necessarily mean premeditation. The following states of mind are recognized as constituting the various forms of “malice aforethought” :
  1. Intent to kill,
  2. Intent to inflict grievous bodily harm short of death,
  3. Reckless indifference to an unjustifiably high risk to human life, or
  4. Intent to commit a dangerous felony.
Under state of mind (iii), the killing must result from defendant’s conduct involving a reckless indifference to human life and a conscious disregard of an unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily injury.

There it is “Reckless indifference to an unjustifiably high risk to human life.”

How many more teacher’s lives must be destroyed ? How many more deaths, murders must there be before this most horrendous system is finally replaced.

I challenge Michael Gove to look at me, at my example. I am innocent, life destroyed, supported by medication. I live every day, every hour, every minute knowing that those responsible lied and cheated. I know that for the rest of my life, I must suffer the pain of a sentence that I do not deserve. A criminal can expect fair and just treatment and a sentence that is finite. I do not even have that expectation and that my suffering will ever end. There is no escape from this prison created by policy and procedure - total anonymity is delivered to those accountable and responsible !

Realize that the very thought of harming or abusing a child is horrible - to assault a child is to fail in life. To commit such a crime does warrant stern measures but the consequence of being falsely accused is a nightmare – which becomes so much worse when you are found guilty by a corrupt school management system of a crime that you did not commit !

Contrary to what is being claimed by Michael Gove, anonymity is a relatively minor consideration, the press coverage of teacher allegation cases is low and stories that are covered usually originate from events that took place many years ago. Google searches confirm this observation.

When the very fabric of all that you once held dear has been taken, the resulting shame and pain prevents most people from coming forward. But occasionally, others find the strength. I close with this item that I found on the TES website :

“I was a successful and confident Curriculum Head in a large establishment when a student made a false allegation against me. A full Safeguarding process swung into action and I was suspended. The experience was soul destroying and that first weekend into the suspension left me seriously contemplating suicide; I had done nothing wrong but what if I couldn’t prove that ?

I was one of the lucky ones. The Head of HR and Principal ensured my absolute support and protection from the moment I was suspended. They were objective and followed procedure, of course, but took every legitimate step to ensure my safety and well-being and even when I was totally exonerated after clearly withstanding scrutiny, ensured that I too received after-care with access to Counselling and Support. I will always be thankful that they managed with compassion and concern and professionalism.

The experience still haunts me and yet despite the way in which I was protected and supported, I had left that establish around 9 months later as my confidence has been dented beyond repair. I am now a Senior Manager in another establishment but have to admit to being almost paranoid around Safeguarding issues.

Sadly, so many professionals are left to endure a terrifying experience with no support, care and protection and I know of numerous people who have left the professional in an untimely fashion.”

My heart does go out to them and all teachers who have suffered such experiences and to all teachers in the future - sadly this mess is fated to continue. My desire and ambition is to make a difference, to maintain my personal and lonely campaign to provide protection for teachers and to end this evil process, bringing those responsible to account.

I had intended to close this entry with a list of some reported teacher suicides but, apart from the fact that their stories reduced me to tears, it seems morally wrong for newspapers to report such tragedies for little reason, purpose or benefit ... many reports clearly demonstrate the lynch mob mentality of ‘there’s no smoke without fire’ !

I have no wish to cause those families further distress by publicizing such stories and I leave you to explore and to consider this waste of human life, the needless deaths of so many teachers - Google key phrases such as ‘teacher hanged’ or ‘teacher suicide’ - sadly there are many and recent too !

Many reported suicides relate to cases where an allegation had been made against the teacher whilst others describe cases where teachers have been stressed beyond breaking point by a system that knows no compassion and that provides no support.

So just how many teachers have been sacrificed over the years ? How many more futile tragedies do we need before Michael Gove and everyone else realizes that the British education system and its management structures kill teachers !

Government Tested and Approved by Michael Gove

“The Little Protector”

Take control of your class the easy and painless way : Pull trigger and solve all your worries and problems and ours too !
(Fully guaranteed anonymity included)

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Anonymity – “At what price ?”

“It’s not fair that the accused is not protected from adverse publicity whilst the accuser is guaranteed anonymity, whatever the verdict.” Jonathan King (1944- )
“Sacrificing anonymity may be the next generation’s price for keeping precious liberty, as prior generations paid in blood.” Hal Norby

The Education Bill ("Michael Gove - Falling Down On The Job 3")
“The Emporer’s New Clothes”

An Emperor who cares for nothing but his wardrobe hires two weavers who promise him the finest suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or “just hopelessly stupid”. The Emperor cannot see the cloth himself, but pretends that he can for fear of appearing unfit for his position or stupid; his ministers do the same.

When the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they dress him in mime and the Emperor then marches in procession before his subjects. A child in the crowd calls out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor cringes, suspecting the assertion is true, but holds himself up proudly and continues the procession.

Teachers are to be granted anonymity when pupils make allegations against them, which will only be lifted if a charge is made. The proposals are set out in Michael Gove’s Education Bill.

The teachers’ unions were quick to rush in with their responses, laying claim to the fact that it was their initiatives and actions that has now resulted in the government’s bequest :

Dr. Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said : “Teachers will be delighted if the Education Bill helps gives them more protection against false allegations.”

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union said : “We are pleased that the Government has responded to our calls for safeguards for teachers facing allegations. False complaints have a devastating impact on innocent teachers, who may find themselves outcast within their community, but this can be reduced if anonymity is retained.”

Philip Parkin, General Secretary of Voice said : “We have been campaigning for the right to anonymity unless and until charged with a criminal offence.”

Somewhat surprisingly and completely out of character :

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, said : “The Bill has all the hallmarks of being conceived by power junkies. This Bill should be a wake-up call to all those who care about children’s education that time is running out to stop this Coalition from destroying our education system.”

(Why do the NUT and NASUWT always make the claim that they’re the biggest union - one of them must be but which ? And remember that biggest isn’t always best !)

Then teacher support agencies blew their trumpets :

Julian Stanley, Chief Executive of Teacher Support Network, said : “Teachers were vulnerable to allegations, but that Teacher Support Network had lobbied hard for those facing such allegations to remain anonymous. I am pleased that this new legislation will provide anonymity.

In a BBC radio interview, Helen Denton, Executive Director for Children & Young People, Lancashire County Council expressed doubts about Michael Gove’s promise to provide anonomity. She was of the opinion that it was not realistic and that anonomity could not be assured :

“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.

I was suspended on 27 September 2007. Two days later, there was an article published on the front page of the Lancashire Evening Post. On 3 October 2007, the Chorley Guardian published a story. (Neither newspaper reported my name but they did include comment by Lancashire County Council. As Lancashire County Council contributed to these articles, you might have imagined that they would have alerted me to the fact – but no, they never cared !)

I have always pondered who had contacted the press, it was odd that the Chorley Guardian should have covered two stories on 3 October 2007 about Duke Street Primary School. The first presented an article about Andrew Kidd, head teacher and another reporting the allegation. It seemed too coincidental. I did ask Lancashire Evening Post who had reported the story. They said that, as with many stories, they had received an anonymous call. The Chorley Guardian said that they could not divulge such confidential information. I pointed out the coincidental publication of the two articles and asked how that was possible. In the end, they intimated that it was a school employee but refused to provide any other details.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Education Bill

The Education Bill
Presented by Secretary Michael Gove
Supported by the Prime Minister,
the Deputy Prime Minister,
Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer,
Secretary Vince Cable,
Sarah Teather, Mr Nick Gibb,
Mr David Willetts and Mr John Hayes.

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Confucious(551 BC-479 BC)
“If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down.” Mary Pickford (1893-1979)
The Education Bill ("Michael Gove - Falling Down On The Job 1")

The Education Bill ("Michael Gove - Falling Down On The Job 2")

“We want to remove from teachers the fear factor of ending up in court or some disciplinary procedure if they intervene.”

“We need to give teachers more powers to keep order so they can nip bad behaviour in the bud.”

“What we need is to take a step back and say ‘Why is it we as a country have a problem with children’s nutrition and obesity ?’ These are things we can all solve rather than suggesting that teachers solve them for us.”

“Nothing is more important than raising the prestige and esteem of teaching.”

So why does he continue to sanction the ever increasing use of any unqualified person to cover and teach lessons ? His lack of action is undermining teachers and the teaching profession.

courtesy BBC Radio ‘The Today Programme’ - 27 January 2011

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year’s Resolution

A New Year resolution is a commitment that an individual makes to a personal goal, project, or the reforming of a habit. A New Year’s Resolution is generally a goal someone sets out to accomplish in the coming year.

Another year has passed and I have not succeeded in my goals. It’s hard to appreciate that almost 1200 days have now elapsed since that dreadful day. I can hardly bear to look back for I have lost everything.

Looking back at 2010, my proudest achievement was to have participated in the recent BBC Radio Lancashire program. I had hoped to do so much more but those challenges are now my goals for 2011.

My partner continues to encourage and support me; without his help, I truly believe that I would have ended my life several years ago. It is the realization that I can never put this mess behind me. When you’ve been found guilty of a crime that you didn’t commit then it just gnaws away at you like a cancer that invades your life. Worse when you know that those who were responsible and accountable cheated, deceived and lied, denying me my right to a fair hearing and justice.

Remember too that this is not an ‘ordinary’ crime, a minor misdemeanour. This a heinous crime, an assault on a child – any assault must be considered serious – but that on a child is contemptuous and deserves the full weight of the law and subsequent punishment.

I have lived through hell, I have experienced the misery and destruction of my life – nobody should suffer in this way, but sadly they do, for I am not alone in my pain. Recent papers are full of stories of teachers who have been sacked for doing their jobs – sacked because of their enthusiasm and commitment to their career.

Everyone cries in outrage about the stupidity, injustice and waste but tomorrow’s headlines soon provide new stories and the misery of that particular teacher’s life is forgotten.

Michael Gove said he would change everything and would support teachers in the future – “The Importance of Teaching”. But he has not done anything to improve the situation – in fact, providing the LEAs and schools with greater powers will make matters worse.

My greatest ambition is to put an end to this nightmare for all teachers. NASUWT have worked on this for 20 years – I, on my own, have tried for 2 years. In two years, I have brought about a parliamentary committee meeting, television and radio interviews and newspaper coverage of the problem. I have exchanged letters with MPs, including David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Michael Gove and others.

In short, an ordinary reception teacher from a humble Chorley primary school has fought harder and with more success than any union or MP.

I want to be heard, I want my case publicly exposed for all to scrutinize – only then can the policy makers begin to appreciate the corruption that exists within our local county councils and schools – only then can we begin to create a new framework that will support teachers and children in the future.