January 17, 2014
Almost 1,000 teachers have been accused of having a relationship with a pupil in the last five years, according to figures released today.
Of these, just over one in four faced police charges over the abuse allegations.
The figures, obtained by BBC Newsbeat, show that between 2008 and 2013, at least 959 teachers and other school staff were accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a pupil.
At least 254 of these cases (26 per cent) led to a police charge, the findings show, although it is not clear how many of these charges ultimately resulted in convictions.
The past few months have seen a number of high-profile cases of teachers convicted of abusing their pupils.
In June last year, Jeremy Forrest was jailed after being found guilty of abducting a 15-year-old girl whom he taught at Bishop Bell School in Sussex and taking her to France.
And last month, Nick Clegg’s former headmaster Roland Wright was convicted of abusing five young girls during his time in charge of Caldicott Prep School in Buckinghamshire.
The BBC data is based on responses from 137 councils who were asked how many school staff were suspended, dismissed or faced disciplinary action after being accused of some form of sexual relationship with a pupil.
More than 40 councils refused to respond to the request, which was made under the Freedom of Information Act.
The statistics apply only to state schools under local council control – meaning that if private schools, academies and free schools were included the number of abuse allegations would doubtless be much higher.
Donald Findlater, a child abuse expert with The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, told Newsbeat: ‘If a child develops the courage to say something, we have to take it seriously.
‘That does not mean we have to assume it is absolutely true, but we have to take it seriously and investigate it.’
Warning: Teachers’ union leader Christine Blowe said the speed of investigations was vital to avoid ‘misunderstandings and malicious allegations’
He said research conducted for the Government had shown that just two per cent of allegations against teachers are malicious – but agreed that a false claim could unfairly destroy a teacher’s career.