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False abuse claim led to misery

Frances Rafferty and Josephine Gardiner find OFSTED is to be the focus of the Easter union conferences.

When Glynne Rowlands addresses the Association of Teachers and Lecturers next week on the subject of malicious accusations he will be reliving the worst fortnight of his life.

Mr Rowlands, who teaches in a primary school in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, was branded a child abuser following allegations by a pupil after a school disco. Although he has since been cleared, his name is still on police files. He said: "I was supposed to have taken the girl out of the disco, picked her up and kissed her. But there wasn't a word of truth in it. The mother reported me to the school, social services and the police. The word soon got round that I was suspected of being a child abuser - a pervert."

Mr Rowlands, who has two teenage sons, told his family about the allegations before they heard any gossip. Fortunately his headteacher believed his story and the police did not take any action. Two weeks later the child, aged eight, admitted she had made up the story.

"Her mother was very apologetic and said she would put the story straight, but even so I used to dread going to the supermarket or out in the town, scared I would meet somebody who had heard the allegations. I have since complained to the police and asked to have my name wiped off, but I have got nowhere, " he said.

He will now ask his union to support a motion calling for new investigative procedures to protect teachers from the consequences of accusations and liaison with local authorities to produce advice and guidance. The motion also calls for the Home Office to review the groups of adults who have access to children but do not undergo checks to see whether they have criminal records.

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