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Jane Davidson, Welsh Education Minister
"The assembly will decide on this issue its own way"
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Sunday, 15 April, 2001, 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK
Minister to consult on abuse measures
Marjorie Evans with David Blunkett and Doug McAvoy, NUT conference
Marjorie Evans's case took centre stage in Cardiff
Welsh Assembly Education Minister Jane Davidson has given a cautious response to David Blunkett's plans to speed up dealing with allegations made against teachers.

The UK education secretary revealed his proposal that enquiries into allegations should take no more than three months.

And Mr Blunkett wants a network of coordinators to give guidance on alleged incidents, in the wake of the 18-month ordeal experienced by Welsh headteacher Marjorie Evans.

Jane Davidson,
Jane Davidson: 'An issue for Welsh Assembly to decide'
Mr Blunkett has earmarked 1.4m for the network of co-ordinators in England.

But Ms Davidson said it would be for the Welsh Assembly to decide its own way forward on the matter.

"With regards to the proposals for child protection co-ordinators, that is an English proposal," she said.

"In Wales we would be looking to work with the teaching unions and the profession generally to look at the way forward."

Devolution in Wales means we do take our own decisions and we will make them in our own way

Jane Davidson, Welsh Education Minister
In an interview with BBC Wales, Ms Davidson said the issue was a "very difficult and delicate area".

"We need to see more of the details about what David Blunkett is proposing.

"We will consult with the relevant people to put the best system in place, to have the confidence of the profession and parents.

"I always view any announcements made by David Blunkett as being very welcome - but devolution in Wales means we do take our own decisions and we will make them in our own way."

David Blunkett
Education Secretary David Blunkett at the conference
Ms Davidson said the assembly was currently investigating issues arising from the case of Mrs Evans, who returned to work at St Mary's School, Caldicot, last month.

As a result, it would be "absolutely improper" to make any statement on the issues involved.

"We have said right from the beginning of this case that we would look at all the issues and I have made a number of announcements regarding guidance on teacher allegations and pupil restraint," said Ms Davidson.

"The current guidance that exists does not mean that governors have to suspend teachers, although that is quite often usual practice."

Mrs Evans returned to work after governors agreed she had no case to answer.

The 56-year-old had successfully appealed against a three-month suspended sentence for slapping a 10-year-old pupil, with the backing of NUT Cymru.

Further allegations of improper conduct were dropped by the CPS.

The union supported Mrs Evans's bid in the High Court to return to work at St Mary's when governors had prevented her from doing so last December.

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See also:

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Head's 'nightmare journey'
13 Apr 01 | Education
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26 Mar 01 | Education
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