Allegations Against School Staff - Children, Schools and Families Committee Contents


Case Studies


    An allegation was made against an NASUWT member that he physically assaulted a Year 9 male pupil on 19 March 2007. The member was interviewed by the police on 4 April 2007. On 19 April 2007, the Union's solicitors confirmed that the police would be taking no further action against the member. The member was not charged or cautioned with any offence. The Union subsequently discovered that two employees of Bradford Social Services had visited the member at his home on the day he was informed of the allegation. The member says they treated him like a criminal and were very intimidating. They informed him they were investigating his family situation under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989. The same social workers subsequently visited the member again the following day and allegedly pressurised him and his partner to sign a formal document confirming their agreement:

    —  not to physically chastise their son;

    —  to report any injury to their son to the Social Services duty worker;

    —  to co-operate with Social Services and other agencies involved; and

    —  to Social Services undertaking an assessment.

    The member pursued a formal complaint against Social Services.


    An NASUWT member teaching in a primary school in London was placed on gardening leave in June 2008 following allegations of child abuse from a parent. The member's headteacher and senior management team were fully supportive of him, as the allegations had come from parents who had made allegations against male primary school teachers before and seemed intent on preventing any males from teaching their children. The member is also a foster parent and a carer for his disabled wife. The allegations were referred to Social Services who instructed him that he was not to sleep overnight at his family home, which caused him and his family emotional trauma as well as practical difficulties. In addition, he was summonsed to an interview with Social Services. The case was reported in the press, which caused the member further distress. After approximately three weeks, the headteacher confirmed to parents that the police and Social Services had found no evidence to substantiate the complaints and that the case had been closed. Social Services' restrictions on the member were lifted and he returned to work. However, the member remained traumatised by the events and seriously considered leaving teaching.


    A female pupil made allegations against an NASUWT member teaching in a secondary school in North Yorkshire on 11 January 2008. The member was suspended on 15 January 2008 without being told what the allegations against him were. The police interviewed the pupil but not the member and, on 21 January 2008, confirmed to the school that they would be taking no action. The school therefore instigated its own disciplinary investigation.

    The member attended his first investigatory interview on 24 January 2008 but at this point, he was still not informed of the nature of the allegations. On 29 January, the employer wrote to the member informing him of the detail of the allegations. The pupil was not interviewed until 7 and 14 March 2008, some two months after the allegations were made. Nine other pupils and another teacher were interviewed over April, May and June. It was clear from the pupils' responses that there had been considerable discussion amongst Year 11 pupils about the allegations. In addition, a number of the pupils made reference to the headteacher questioning them about the member prior to their interview, although no notes of these conversations were ever disclosed or referred to during the disciplinary investigation and hearing.

    On 29 June 2008, the pupil who made the original allegation came forward with a further allegation about an incident she alleged occurred in Summer 2007. The member was interviewed on three more occasions, but these meetings were described as "pre-disciplinary interviews"', which did not exist under the school's disciplinary procedure and suggested to the member and his Union representative that an assumption of guilt had already been made by the investigators.

    It was also clear that the employer did not seek to investigate all avenues in order to seek the truth about the allegations, as 22 additional potential witnesses (mostly suggested by the member, but some named by the pupils interviewed) were not questioned. The investigation amounted to a trawling exercise to find damning evidence and elicit more allegations. It failed to explore potential evidence that could have proved the teacher's version of events. These concerns were raised by the NASUWT at the beginning of the disciplinary hearing before a panel of governors. As a result, the panel acknowledged there were problems with the investigation and procedure. The panel decided that the overarching allegation of "inappropriate behaviour of a sexual nature" was not evidenced, although the member was issued with a final written warning in relation to four less serious allegations.


    An NASUWT member was working as a supply teacher through an agency at a secondary school in Lancashire. On 8 November 2007, the member was suspended for allegedly having an inappropriate relationship with a female looked after pupil. The pupil fell under the jurisdiction of Blackpool Council. However, the teacher was investigated under the procedures of Lancashire County Council. At a Section 47 strategy meeting on 15 November 2007, concerns were raised about the relationship between the teacher and the pupil. Social Services and the police visited the teacher at home and her ongoing suspension was confirmed. At a second strategy meeting on 3 December 2007, it was decided that further investigation was necessary. The member's agency informed the member she would not be considered for further employment whilst the investigation was ongoing. To date (11 May 2009), no formal conclusion to the investigation has been reached by Lancashire County Council or Blackpool Social Services. No formal investigatory interview with the member has ever taken place in contradiction of Lancashire County Council's Child Safeguarding Procedures. On 16 July 2008, a report was received from Blackpool Social Services, but this reached no conclusion and stated no outcomes. In a letter dated January 2009, the County Council appeared to be retrospectively pushing responsibility to investigate onto the teaching agency in their capacity as "employer". The agency finally held a "Disciplinary Investigation Meeting" on 16 September 2008 (some 10 months after the allegation was made). The investigation found that the teacher's conduct was "inappropriate" and that the member's relationship with the pupil in question "went beyond the professional boundaries of a teacher". However, no disciplinary action was to be taken against the teacher, but before she could be considered for further placements, the member was required to undertake child protection training. This training was finally scheduled to take place in March 2009. The member attended the venue for training as scheduled but on arrival was told that no training was required and that she would simply have to go through the induction notes given to new teachers. To date, the member has not received the induction notes. The member has had to re-register with the agency but has still not yet been given any teaching placements.


    An allegation was made at the end of the Spring 2007 term against a student member of the NASUWT who was undertaking teaching practice in a school in the Yorkshire and Humberside Region. The school did not investigate the allegation, but refused to allow the student to continue his placement there. The member was due to qualify in Summer 2007 and had a job offer to commence in September—he was therefore at risk of losing this job if he was not able to finish his teaching practice. The NASUWT Regional Official wrote to the school, the University and the two Child Protection teams involved requesting that the allegation be investigated in order to resolve the matter. (The police were informed but declined to investigate as they felt no criminal offence had been committed.) A consensus was eventually reached that the University should investigate. The University finally confirmed it had investigated and was satisfied that the member was suitable to work with children, and stated that he should be supported in order to complete his teacher training. The only point outstanding then was whether the member could start at the school where he had obtained a job from September. The school was supportive and prepared to allow him to complete his final teaching practice there but the local authority had reservations. The member did, however, start work at the school as an unqualified teacher in order to complete his final teaching practice.


    In March 2006, the NASUWT secured a settlement from the police following the unlawful detention of a member at a police station. The supply teacher member from the West Midlands was accused of assaulting a pupil and was taken to her local police station for questioning. She was arrested and questioned, following which a "no further action" decision was taken. At this point, the member should have been released, but she was detained and her photographs, DNA and fingerprints taken. The NASUWT submitted a judicial review application against the police decision to detain her and was given leave to proceed by the Court. The police then conceded the claim in full, agreeing to destroy the records and they paid, to the member, a token amount of compensation.


    An NASUWT member voluntarily attended Washington police station in May 2008 where, despite protests from his solicitor, he was arrested over allegations of common assault against a school pupil. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing. As part of the arrest process, the police took DNA samples, a photograph and fingerprints. By law, police can keep these records irrespective of the outcome of the arrest. The Police National Computer (PNC) had also been marked with "CJ arrestee", which would lead to disclosure to any prospective employer carrying out the obligatory enhanced Criminal Records Bureau Check. The NASUWT challenged the legality of the member's arrest and sought destruction of his personal records. The High Court granted permission for a judicial review, but on 1 May 2009, a few days before the full hearing, the police conceded, agreeing to a Consent Order declaring the arrest unlawful. An order was made that the photographic, fingerprint and DNA records be deleted and the PNC was amended. This climbdown has implications throughout the public sector and will significantly change the way teachers who are accused of assault are dealt with by the police. The decision implies that police should be better trained to apply provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) when dealing with teachers and other public servants. Regrettably, the member has now left the teaching profession after 15 years' service because of the trauma caused by this ordeal.


    An allegation was made against an NASUWT member in Flintshire on 15 February 2007 that he held a penknife to a female pupil's throat and threatened to kill her. The Union's solicitors were instructed to represent the member. On 6 March 2007, the Union's solicitors confirmed that the police would be taking no further action against the member. They subsequently provided a copy of an e-mail from the investigating police officer, which unusually confirmed that the investigation had revealed the allegation was completely made up. The member had not even been interviewed by the police. On the Union's solicitors' advice, the member then lodged a formal complaint against the pupil to the police. The Union was advised that the pupil had been cautioned for "making false witness". The police subsequently confirmed in writing that the pupil "was arrested and formally reprimanded for her actions". As far as the Union is aware, no disciplinary action has been taken against the pupil by the school.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2009
Prepared 16 July 2009