Cleared teacher to call for protection

13th April 2001 at 01:00
MARJORIE Evans will be using her unwanted fame this weekend to press for government action to protect staff accused of physical assault.

In an interview with The TES, - the first newspaper to be allowed into her school since she returned two weeks ago - she has described how she is still grappling with the problem of working with her accusers.

She and her supporters are resentful that those who accused her are still in their jobs. "They would have been quite happy to see me possibly go to jail. But nothing has been said to them as far as I know," she said.

A number of the staff who gave evidence against her have left or are on sick leave. Her other critics, including the school secretary, two teachers and two dinner ladies are still working at St Mary's junior school, Caldicot. One teacher ignored her when she went into her classroom.

Mrs Evans endured an 18-month ordeal after the claim was made that she slapped a 10-year-old and mistreated other pupils. Her name was cleared last month by a disciplinary panel of governors that found there was no credible eidence against her.

She is due to speak in favour of a motion at the National Union of Teachers conference calling for accused staff to have their anonymity protected. Education Secretary David Blunkett will address the issue when he speaks at the Cardiff conference on Saturday, the day before Ms Evans takes the podium.

He is expected to put forward proposals to speed up investigations into accusations but will not meet the NUT's demand that the automatic suspension of teachers who are accused be dropped.

The union wants nationally agreed guidelines on suspensions and a reduction in the time taken by police and social services to investigate allegations.

Doug McAvoy, NUT general secretary, said: "The implications of the case are far-reaching. Positive action is needed to improve significantly the current procedures."

The Welsh Assembly is carrying out an investigation into the procedures followed by governors at St Mary's and Monmouthshire education authority, which came in for criticism during the case.

Full interview, Friday magazine

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