Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Allegations of abuse

A new guidance document has been issued by the DfES which, while not superseding existing guidance, helpfully draws together all the strands which members have to address when allegations of abuse are made against teachers and other staff.

Copies of the guidance are available from www.teachernet.gov.uk/childprotection

It covers matters such as supporting those involved, confidentiality, resignations and compromise agreements, record keeping, timescales, oversight and monitoring, and initial items to consider when an allegation is made.

It also discusses the matter of staff suspension in more detail than previous documentation. A final summary of process provides a useful aide-mémoire for school action.

All schools and colleges - including independent schools and local authorities exercising education functions - should find this guidance helpful in reviewing and, where appropriate, modifying practice and procedure for dealing with allegations of abuse.

Most encouraging, the guidance gives a strongly worded recommendation to police and local authorities to maintain confidentiality, especially in regards to identifying individuals in the media, while an allegation is being investigated.

It also calls for cases to be resolved as quickly as possible and to avoid all unnecessary delay.

Unfortunately the guidance is not statutory, and it will be up to the police and local authorities to adopt the recommendations. ASCL will continue to raise the issue with all stakeholders to make sure that teachers and staff, as well as pupils, are treated fairly.

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