Teacher suspensions cost councils £15m in public money

The number of teachers suspended for reportedly mistreating children has almost doubled in the past five years, forcing councils to spend almost £15m of public money.

Since 2004, the number of full pay suspensions as a result of complaints has risen by 86%. Claims range from verbal abuse and use of unreasonable force through to indecent assault, misuse of drugs or alcohol, and gross misconduct.

But Sharon Liburd, a solicitor for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said many of the claims are false.

“There’s a worrying trend of parents not going to the headteacher, but instead heading straight to the police,” she told the BBC. “Parents automatically believe the child and often the facts are embellished. They go to the police to create the maximum amount of hurt to the school.”

Liburd also said that three-quarters of allegations considered by the Crown Prosecution Service resulted in no action being taken against the teacher due to lack of evidence.

Employers say suspending a teacher is a “neutral” act and does not imply any guilt. But Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said he believed suspending a teacher could be disastrous for their career.

“It is not a neutral act and doesn’t feel like a neutral act,” he said. “Especially when a teacher is suspended as a result of false or malicious allegations. Something like that can badly affect a teacher’s career and their whole life.”

A Freedom of Information investigation by Donal McIntyre on BBC Radio 5 Live on 40% of the UK’s local authorities found that the number of teachers suspended on full pay rose from 168 in 2003-04 to 314 in 2007-08. The local authorities said they have spent £14.5m on suspended teachers salaries over the past four years.

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