PROTECTION plans for teachers falsely accused of mistreating pupils has been announced by the coalition Government to prevent careers being wrecked by malicious allegations.
Schools minister Nick Gibb announced the Justice Bill proposal, which would ensure an absolute right to anonymity for teachers accused of abuse or ill-treatment unless and until they are charged with a criminal offence.
An ex-deputy head teacher, Theresa McKenzie, 39, a married-mother-of-two formerly of Chester Road, Kelsall, was cleared of seven counts of sexual activity with a child in a position of trust at a Cheshire special needs school following a two-week trial at Chester Crown Court in March.
It is hoped the new law would offer more protection to innocent teachers careers being ruined by false claims, which it is claimed one in four teaching staff has faced.
Mr Gibb said: “We are giving teachers subject to allegations by pupils anonymity unless and until they are charged with an offence.”
The move comes after incidents of innocent teachers facing depression, ruin and leaving the profession.
Figures show just two per cent of allegations result in caution or convictions.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teaching union, welcomed the move but has called for the government to extend anonymity to the point of conviction, adding “if a teacher is faced with an allegation by a pupil, there is a lot of pressure on the school to say: ‘there’s no smoke without fire’.
“The teacher finds themselves tried in the local media.”
The Chronicle attempted to speak to Ms McKenzie but she was not contactable.