1-in-4 school staff faced false allegation

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A quarter of school staff have had a false allegation made against them by a pupil, and one in six have had an allegation made by a member of a pupil's family, according to an Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) survey.

In addition, 50 per cent of school staff reported that they or a colleague have had a false allegation made against them in their current school or college by a pupil or a member of a pupil's family.

These were the key findings of a survey of over a thousand (1,155) ATL members working as support staff, teachers, department heads and school leaders in state and private schools around the UK.

In half the cases the allegation was immediately dismissed by the school. The police were only notified in 16 per cent of instances, and took no further action in 55 of the 67 cases they investigated.

Dr Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary, said: "School staff are having their careers blighted by false allegations and their private lives damaged as a result of the stress. We are losing good teachers, heads and support staff to the detriment of children's education. We all accept the protection of children is paramount, but that should not be at the expense of natural justice - school staff have rights too.

"This survey suggests huge numbers of staff are facing false allegations every week. It's time the balance was redressed so that school staff are not presumed guilty until proven innocent. The right to anonymity should be re-examined, to reduce the damage to the lives of innocent staff and make it less difficult to reintegrate into school.

"We would also like heads to avoid putting an automatic bar on staff having contact with colleagues, because cutting contact with colleagues compounds stress and feelings of isolation so makes a return to school less likely even when allegations are proved false."

www. atl.org.uk

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