Nearly 1,000 school staff have been accused of having a sexual relationship with a pupil in the last five years, with one in four of them facing police charges, research shows.
New figures show that between 2008 and 2013, at least 959 teachers and other school staff were suspended, dismissed or faced disciplinary action after being accused of a sexual relationship with a pupil.
Police charges were brought in 254 of these cases, although it is not clear how many of these cases led to teachers being prosecuted, convicted or dismissed.
Children’s charities responded to the findings by calling for sexual abuse complaints to be taken more seriously.
But teaching unions have stressed that many allegations made against staff are false.
The figures, which were obtained by BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat programme via a Freedom of Information request, are based on responses from 137 councils.
The statistics apply to state schools under local council control, meaning that academies and private schools are not included in the results.
Teaching unions said that any teacher abusing their position should face the full consequences but also said they had concerns about the impact of false claims.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said: “There can be misunderstandings and malicious allegations are made, so it is critical that investigations are carried out quickly with due process.”
Donald Findlater, a child abuse expert with The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, a charity that campaigns against child sex abuse, added: “If a child develops the courage to say something, we have to take it seriously.
“That does not mean we have to assume it is absolutely true, but we have to take it seriously and investigate it.”
He said that he agreed that a false claim could ruin a teacher's career, but added that research conducted for the government had shown that just 2 per cent of allegations against teachers are malicious.