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Do allegations figures raise fair child protection concerns?

16 January 2014

A Freedom of Information request made to local authorities in the UK has revealed that nearly 1,000 school staff have been accused of having a sexual relationship with a pupil. Local authorities provided figures to show where staff had been suspended, disciplined or dismissed following an allegation by a pupil.

It's concerning that these numbers indicate a level of unlawful relationships from 2008 - 2013 well beyond the high-profile cases we occasionally read about. But do these statistics accurately reflect the extent to which school staff actually breach their position of trust? It's thought that historically many schools have been overzealous in suspending or disciplining staff as a knee-jerk reaction to an allegation. The Government's most recent guidance for schools (issued in 2012) is clear that suspension should be a last resort. Now that there is more onus on schools to give careful consideration to their duties as an employer and the risk of false allegations, similar statistics for 2012 onwards may well paint a different picture.

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