Posts Tagged ‘NASUWT’

Students Should not be Prosecuted for False Allegations

April 10, 2012

Those of you who follow my blog know how concerned I am about the threat of false allegations against teachers. Data has shown that it is one of the major factors for driving potential male teachers away from the profession. I have a friend who was accused of innapropriate touching by a child for doing nothing more than guiding the child’s hand in a handwriting exercise. She did nothing more than help the child hold the pencil correctly and it landed her in hot water, until the child recanted on his original claim.

But as much as I abhor false accusations, I am aware that the role of the teacher is to put the welfare of the child over their own. If students were prosecuted for false claims, it would have dire consequences for the wellbeing of the student population. The threat of prosecution would ultimately deter students from speaking up against teachers who have genuinely molested them. It is already difficult for victims of sexual assault to speak out and name their perpetrators, lets not put any stumbling block that may keep them quiet.

Still, it seems as though I am in the minority of teachers on this one:

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.

Just because most claims against teachers fail to lead to conviction doesn’t mean they were erroneous. Protecting the welfare of children is tantamount, even when it comes to the expense of teachers.

As much as I would like to see children punished for any salacious lie, I desperately don’t want any prohibitive regulation that would deter genuine victims from seeking justice from their perpetrator.

 

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Schools Must Share the Blame With Parents

April 18, 2011

Teachers are great at blaming poor parenting for the bad habits of their students. Often it is completely justified. However, sometimes parents are not the only one that deserves the criticism. Sometimes when students present poorly at school, it is just as much the failure of the school to engage and enforce standards as it is the parents.

Take this case for example:

Teachers are warning that pupils are failing to pack their schoolbags with basic classroom equipment and instead are bringing mobile phones, iPods, hand-held computer game devices and even the latest iPads to school.

Some schools have even begun to introduce new agreements which require parents to ensure their children are equipped with textbooks and pens at the beginning of each day.

“They often don’t come to school with their books, or without their homework and sometimes they are lacking something so basic as a pencil to write with,” said Chris Keates, the general secretary of the NASUWT union.

“They come with all this electronic equipment, it would be nice if they just brought a pen.

“My message to parents is that you can send a very powerful message to your child about the importance of their schooling by making sure that they are ready to work when they get to class each morning.”

The problem will be discussed at the union’s annual conference later this week, which will also hear from schools which have drawn up “learning contracts” with parents to encourage them to take a keener interest in their child’s day-to-day progress.

Frustrated by pupils forgetting the basics but arriving with hundreds of pounds worth of electronics in their blazer pocket or schoolbag, one Sheffield teacher was instrumental in introducing a learning contract at his school.

The English and drama teacher, who declined to be named, said: “I teach children from some of the wealthiest backgrounds in the city but it was getting to be an absolute pain in terms of the day-to-day basics.

“It’s amazing how many devices kids carry around with them these days. Young people aspire to have these Macbooks and other expensive equipment but it seems to me that the priorities are skewed.

“They automatically reach for their MP3 players and so on, but not for the writing equipment.

“I believe they should be able to pick up a pen and construct a sentence, which is correct in terms of grammar and spelling, without resorting to an electronic spellchecking device which will probably give them an incorrect, American version.”

He added: “Our policy sees any forgotten equipment being marked in children’s daily log books for parents to see and I urge all parents in the country to check their child has the basic equipment for the school day.”

The Education Bill published in January proposed new powers for teachers to confiscate prohibited items, including electronic gadgets, and to also enable staff to examine data such as video clips for evidence of bullying or other bad behaviour.

A survey in 2006 found that 91 per cent of children owned a mobile telephone by the age of 12.

This article is a great example of teachers blaming parents for a problem they have a share in. The following points need to be made:

  1. If you have a child at your school for 5-15 years and they still haven’t grasped the concept of bringing pens and text books to class, you are not running a very good school. Where are your rules? Where are your expectations? Don’t blame parents for not overseeing their kids’ schoolbag – surely you can do more to enforce standards of organisation.
  2. What has mobile phones and i-Pods got to do with not bringing books and pens to school? If you have a problem with electronic gadgets, ban them or at least set some guidelines. Kids will always be drawn to modern gadgets. Don’t blame mobile phones for the lack of student organisation. There is no reason why kids can’t be taught the importance of balancing educational and extra-curricular activities.
  3. If you’ve got something to say to parents don’t do it through the media. Teachers and parents must work together. Articles that have teachers preaching to parents often create a divide which helps no one.
  4. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a likely reason for our students being so disinterested in their studies as to come to class unprepared, is due to the lack of engagement on the part of teacher. One of the most important skills a teacher must have is the ability to stimulate and interest their class. If their class seems bored, it is probably because they have a boring teacher. It’s so easy to blame parents and i-Pods, when the real issue is there are too many teachers who offer little and expect a lot in return.

You might accuse me of being disloyal to my profession. The truth is, I am a parent as well as a teacher, and I empathise and relate to both sides of this debate. Sure there is far too many parents out there that don’t get involved with their child’s educational needs. I hear horror stories all the time. But let’s not forget that teachers choose to enter this profession because they want to make a difference to their students. To do this, they must be prepared to work through all obstacles and challenges.

Apportioning blame is fine – just as long as all parties accept some responsibility.


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