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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 May, 2004, 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK
Teachers 'live in fear' of pupils
Classroom
Accused teachers should be granted anonymity, Dr Tutt said
Pupils who make malicious accusations of physical or sexual abuse against teachers must be expelled from school, a headteachers' union has demanded.

Teachers instead of pupils now live in fear of punishment in schools, National Association of Head Teachers president Rona Tutt told the union's conference.

Staff were having increasing trouble with disruptive pupils, she said.

The union also called for league tables to be scrapped and schools subjected to less control from Whitehall.

Nowhere else has performance tables for schools - they keep them for competitive sports, where they belong
Dr Rona Tutt
Dr Tutt said teachers' ability to discipline children was being compromised, at the same time they were being forced to deal with an increasing number of "disturbed, disruptive and distressed" pupils.

"It used to be pupils who lived in fear of punishment.

"Now it is the staff and, as some of you in this room know to your cost, at any moment of the day any one of us may be suspended from our posts for weeks, months, years at a time, often as a result of trying to keep safe those who are in our care.

"It is simply not good enough that pupils, sometimes to deflect attention from their own misdemeanours, can have the power to destroy a teacher's reputation and possibly their livelihood."

'More pressure'

She called for anonymity to be granted for teachers accused with assaulting a pupil until they are convicted of a crime.

A Department for Education spokesman said they took the issue extremely seriously, and would support headteachers taking firm action against false accusations.

"We have to get the balance right between protecting the reputation of teachers but also ensure that genuine complaints are dealt with properly," he said.

Dr Tutt went on to attack school league tables, saying while Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were moving away from testing, the government was putting more pressure on English pupils.

"Nowhere else has performance tables for schools - they keep them for competitive sports, where they belong," she said.

The government says it has already changed many of the tests for seven-year-olds, in response to concerns raised by teachers and parents.

"Tests are important because they provide independent objective benchmarks of performance and are an important part of the drive to deliver excellence and equity in our system," the education spokesman said.

The NAHT represents 85% of primary heads and more than 40% of secondary school chiefs in England and Wales.


SEE ALSO:
Head teacher exodus 'near crisis'
30 Apr 04  |  Education
The strikes that never happen
10 Apr 04  |  Education
More teachers despite money cuts
29 Apr 04  |  Education
Is teaching the most stressful job?
27 Mar 04  |  Education
Teachers 'demand more protection'
16 Apr 04  |  Northern Ireland
Calls for sex case anonymity
26 Oct 03  |  Hampshire/Dorset


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