A fine balance

20th April 2001 at 01:00
There can be few incidents more traumatic for a teacher than being wrongly accused of assaulting a pupil. On the word of one pupil a teacher can face a police investigation, public suspicion and loss of livelihood. In 80 per cent of cases teachers are suspended.

The recent high profile trial involving Welsh headteacher Marjorie Evans (page four) brought the anguish suffered by such teachers to the public's attention. Hundreds of other cases each year go unreported.

A new government target to reduce th length of time falsely accused teachers are suspended is a welcome, if belated, recognition of the problem. It remains to be seen if regional co-ordinators will have any impact on the time social services take to process cases. Whatever the Government does, schools will face the same dilemma - suspend a possibly innocent teacher or leave a potential abuser in charge. The pendulum may have swung too far away from the rights of teachers. But any hasty redress must not override the safety of children.

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