Teachers right to protection

26th September 2003 at 01:00
The Professional Association of Teachers supports Gail Wilee's call for a change in the law to protect teachers accused of abuse (TES, September 12).

At their recent conference, PAT members voted in favour of a motion calling for "the introduction of basic safeguards and rights for teachers, and all other persons involved in child welfare and education, who are accused of assaulting pupils."

There have to be procedures to protect children, and any allegation of abuse has to be investigated. However, school staff need protection too.

Allegations can be malicious and staff can become so demoralised they are unable to continue working and their health suffers.

In her speech, the motion's proposer, May Castrey, called for:

* the right to be treated with respect, courtesy and consideration;

* the right to be told of what one is accused;

* the right to put one's case to those investigating the allegation;

* the right to be told, speedily and in an understanding way, the decision of the investigating team and the reasons for that decision;

* and the right to anonymity unless and until found guilty of a criminal offence.

PAT conference supported this motion. I call on the Government to do the same.

Jean Gemmell

General secretary, Professional Association of Teachers

2 St James' Court Friar Gate, Derby

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