Friday, 28 September 2012

Anonymity For Teachers

One lonely, desperate and frightened night in 2007, I exchanged e-mails with Michael Gove in real time. I no longer felt alone and my heart was filled with hope. He said :

“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.”
crock1 n
  1. an earthen pot, jar, etc.
  2. a piece of broken earthenware
  3. Also crock of shit UK, US and Canadian informal: a quantity or source of lies or nonsense
Michael Gove not only has failed me but every teacher in the United Kingdom. I am not given to swearing but he has delivered a ‘crock of shit’.

Anonymity is a 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.

Michael Gove has introduced impractical legislation that can not be enforced.

Courtesy BBC Radio 5

So everyone in the school and the children’s parents will know about the teacher and the details of the allegation. What action will be taken when the children publish the details on Facebook, Twitter, etc ? What action will be taken when parents discuss the case with friends, family and neighbours ?

“Anonymity doesn’t do much good then either. Instead, human rights laws and bureaucratic red tape is wrapped around teachers’ necks. With their hands tied and no leg to stand on, it’s only a matter of time before they topple. “There’s no way I’d go back into the classroom without being able to prove my innocence,” says Jane. “I think body-worn cameras are needed.””

Helen Denton 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 anonymity. She was of the opinion that it was not realistic and that anonymity could not be assured :

And there we have it, Helen Denton confirms that anonymity for a teacher will not work. It is a distraction but it is so dangerous - teachers should not be given anonymity - like the police, doctors and many others - they are entrusted professionals and should be and must be accountable and answerable - the child MUST always come first inspite of the possible consequences.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

5 Years Today

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. Elaine 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 Ebony, 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.

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 !

It was claimed by LEA representatives that I hit the girl so hard that she continued to suffer from post-traumatic abuse a year later including bed-wetting. It was agreed that, at the time, she showed no reaction nor did any other children.

(No supportive evidence / reports were provided by social services even though Ebony had been interviewed by their investigators. Requests for their provision were ignored and deemed unnecessary by the LEA and school.)

What was never explained was :

Why, at the moment of the alleged assault, Ebony did not react. She did not move or cry out.

Why, at the moment of the alleged assault, no other child in nearby proximity reacted nor did they recount stories of the incident to anyone.

Why, at the moment of the alleged assault, Mrs. Haddon did not go to the rescue of Ebony or make any effort to comfort her at that time or later.

Why, at the moment of the alleged assault, Mrs. Elaine Callan did not go to the rescue of Ebony or make any effort to comfort her at that time or later.

(Mrs. Callan was a nursery nurse who had been working in the same classroom - she said that she saw nothing but that she heard the assault.)

The impossibility of smacking the girl’s hand so violently whilst not dislodging the pencil that she was holding between her fingers. Mrs. Haddon claimed that I smacked her hand and that I then snatched the pencil from the same hand !

Why the head teacher was allowed to lead the investigative process when there was proven conflict between us.
Lies, Damn Lies

The truth is that the allegation was false. The police suspicions were true; I had been victimized by those who were prepared to lie for their own personal gain.

Andrew Kidd, the head teacher, had been instrumental in destroying my career through his malicious actions 5 years ago - today justice needs to be delivered to those who were responsible ...