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Children who falsely accuse teachers of committing assaults should be prosecuted amid fears over a rise in the number of malicious allegations, unions said.Pupils should be routinely reported to the police after making unfounded claims simply to get their own back on teachers, it was claimed.
The NASUWT union said lying schoolchildren “must understand there is a consequence” to making allegations that are “unjust and malicious”.
The comments came as new figures showed the vast majority of claims made against teachers were unsubstantiated.
Data from the NASUWT shows that fewer than one-in-20 allegations of unlawful behaviour made against teachers last year – including assault, sexual abuse and serious threats – resulted in court action.
Addressing the union’s annual conference in Birmingham, activists insisted that pupils who make false claims should be prosecuted.
Ian Brown, a teacher from North East Derbyshire, said: “Schools must have procedures in place where, when allegations are made, the pupil is made aware at the earliest point of the investigation, through their parents if necessary, that if they wish to proceed with the allegation and are found to be lying, then they will face sanctions.
“They must understand there is a consequence in making those allegations if they are found to be unjust, lies and malicious.”
According to figures from the NASUWT, most allegations made against teachers last year failed to result in court action.
Some 103 claims were made, with no further action being taken in 60. Some 39 are yet to be concluded, although the union claim the vast majority are unlikely to ever make it to court.
The Coalition has already announced measures designed to protect teachers from malicious allegations.
A new Education Act gives staff the legal right to anonymity until they are charged with a criminal offence and schools are being told to speed up internal investigations into abuse claims.
Guidance issued to head teachers also makes it clear that pupils can be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice if they make a “false allegation about an offence in order to have a person arrested”.
But around 80 per cent of teachers surveyed by the union claimed new-style protections did not go far enough and heads failed to report enough pupils to the police.
It passed a motion claiming that “the most effective way to protect teachers from malicious allegations is to make such an allegation a criminal offence”.
Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said: “The issue of false, malicious and unsubstantiated allegations against teachers continues to be an enduring problem.
“Teachers’ fear of having allegations made against them is very real, yet four out of five did not feel that current protections for teachers are adequate.
“The fear of having an allegation made against them is compounded by the fact that even if they are exonerated, their career will be permanently blighted by the fact that the allegation will remain on record.”
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “Heads should have absolutely no tolerance of malicious allegations against teachers.
“We’ve made crystal clear that heads can suspend or expel pupils who make false claims – and should report them to the police if they believe a criminal offence has been committed.
“All investigations must be quick and thorough, with unfounded allegations stripped out of individual teachers’ personnel records.
“We’ve legislated so teachers have a legal right to anonymity before they are charged with an offence, to prevent their names being dragged through the mud.”
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