Sunday, January 16, 2011

False Allegations Against Teachers

Seven years ago some girls alleged that Sheffield teacher Robert King had groped them, the case went to court and he was found not guilty. The Education Secretary told Sheffield Council that no action should be taken to bar him from teaching. This didn't happen, as you can see from the news article here and here

I don't want to focus too much on this individual case, as to be honest, I don't really want dyslexic teachers who need 'teaching aids' in front of my kids thank you very much and there were 'other issues' cited by the Council which haven't been disclosed, so we need to be careful before judging whether the school should have got rid of him. (I admit that's a bit rich coming from me.)

The point I do want to make however is that false allegations made against a teacher really can ruin the rest of their lives. Successive Governments have promised to address this problem and the sooner they get on with doing so, the better. It is so easy for a vindictive pupil to make up an allegation, which will always be always treated extremely seriously, escalating rapidly through the Head, the Police and the Courts without the child ever really being given an opportunity to retract their tale. (Which is why when they are finally cross examined in Court by a barrister, their claim is often found to be full of contradictions). Unfortunately by this time it is too late for the poor teacher whose life is in tatters.


Kimpatsu said...

OK, but what are you going to do in cases where the accusation is true? Ignore the child?

English Pensioner said...

I went on one of our pensioners outings, and at one stop I was talking to our coach driver. It seems that he had been a language teacher until one of the girls, to whom he had given (what she considered to be) unsatisfactory marks, threatened to complain that he had "touched her up" and that her friend would confirm this. He reported this to the head who suggested that this could be considering as preparing the ground for an alibi!
As a result, he gave the girl the marks she wanted and gave up teaching - he said that he was not prepared to put his whole family through the consequences of a complaint.
Seems to me that whatever teachers do they are in a "no win" situation.

Anonymous said...

Ok Kimpatsu what is your answer to English Pensioner ?

Defence Brief said...

I hate to disagree Frank, but a child making an allegation is given ample opportunity to retract.

They will be spoken to no doubt by the head teacher. When the police are called the officers will find out what happened before the child is taken to a special interview room where they are questioned about the allegation by a police officer specially trained for the task and who is supervised through out and receives feedback during the (always lengthy) video recorded interview as to contradictions or holes in the child's story.

Often the contradictions are glaring but the policy seems to be to proceed regardless of how believable an account given is.

Anonymous said...

So our justice system is not fit for purpose but we know that.

Kimpatsu are you saying although he was found not guilty he really was guilty and the obvious no smoke without fire.

Damned if you do damned if you don't eh!

I hope you are never on the end of a malicious allegation.

Anonymous said...

What happens, Kimpatsu, is that the allegation is investigated without fear or favour, with anonymity for the accused , and the normal presumption of innocence applying. If it can be proved beyond reasonable doubt that the allegation was fabricated, the system comes down on the pupil like a ton of bricks.

JH said...

Anon 23:11 that is certainly not what happened in a case in my school in the last 5 years. The teacher was suspended, had no anonymity and no action was taken against the pupils as they were in year 11 by the time their allegations were shown to be untrue.