Plans to give teachers the protection of anonymity following serious accusations made by students were put forward yesterday as the Government published its second piece of schools legislation.
The Education Bill will pave the way to grant teachers anonymity following an allegation made against them by a pupil until a police charge is brought.
The policy comes in response to an Association for Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) survey in 2009, which showed that a quarter of school staff have had a false allegation made against them by a pupil, and one in six has had an allegation made by a member of a pupil's family.
ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said she supported the latest move by the Government, adding that it was something her union had been campaigning for for some time.
"The vast majority of allegations made against staff are either malicious or turn out to be false," Dr Bousted said.
"We have numerous cases from our members who have had their careers and personal lives ruined by allegations. It is not just the allegation that can be damaging but also the investigations, which are often slow and badly handled; staff often become guilty by association."
The proposal is part of a raft of measures contained in the bill to improve discipline and behaviour in schools that the Department for Education hopes will make teaching a more attractive occupation.
Education secretary Michael Gove said the legislation will aim to stop the flood of teachers leaving the profession due to ill-discipline and bureaucracy in schools.
"This Government backs teachers," Mr Gove said. "All the evidence from those countries with great education systems tells us that nothing is more important than attracting great people into teaching. And supporting them in the classroom.
"Under the last government, thousands of great people left the teaching profession because behaviour was out of control and they were forced to spend far too much time on paperwork.
He added: "That's why we're taking action to restore discipline and reduce bureaucracy. Teachers will be free to impose the penalties they need to keep order. And free from the red tape which swallows up teaching time."
According to the DfE, behaviour in schools is "out of control" with nearly 1,000 pupils suspended for abusive or violent behaviour every school day, and assaults on members of staff reaching a "five-year high".
In response, the Education Bill will seek to provide teachers with greater powers to search pupils and make it easier for heads to expel violent students, and will reform independent appeal panels that will not "compel reinstatement".
The bill will also put in place plans to abolish the General Teaching Council for England and the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency.
ALSO IN THE BILL: TOP SEVEN
- Exempt outstanding schools from inspection.
- Strengthen Ofqual.
- Reduce Ofsted's inspection framework.
- Remove 24-hour notice on detentions.
- Give staff greater powers to search pupils.
- Reform exclusion appeals panels.
- Remove bureaucratic burdens on staff.