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October 27, 2009

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3 in 10 UK teachers falsely accused

NEARLY three in 10 teachers in the UK have faced false allegations of misconduct from pupils, according to a poll published yesterday.

The survey for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers found that 28 percent of staff had faced allegations that later proved groundless.

Mary Bousted, the union's general secretary, said false claims blight teachers' career, private lives and health.

"It is time the balance was redressed so that school staff are not presumed guilty until proven innocent," she said in a statement. "We are losing good teachers, heads and support staff to the detriment of children's education."

The survey of 1,155 teachers and support staff in private and state schools found that half of the allegations were immediately dismissed. Police were involved in 16 percent of the cases, and mostly took no action.

A primary school teacher said she had not been back to work since being accused by a parent of hitting their child.

The union, which has 160,000 members, said staff are at risk of malicious claims by a handful of pupils that are then copied by other children.

A separate poll for the same union in April found that nearly half of staff had considered quitting the profession because of pupils' increasingly bad behavior.

A fifth said they had suffered mental-health problems from coping with their pupils.


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