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Safeguarding and malicious allegations

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by lovejoy_antiques, Oct 25, 2019.

  1. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Senior commenter

    Posted this elsewhere but I think it's a good point for discussion....

    This is what I read in a school safeguarding policy that perturbed me....

    "It is rare for a child to make an entirely false or malicious allegation, although misunderstandings and misinterpretations of events do happen."

    Rare? Am I the only teacher in the UK to have witnessed the making up of malicious allegations fast becoming a national sport?
  2. MissGeorgi

    MissGeorgi Occasional commenter

    At a school I worked at, a very well spoken girl made accusations, falsely, about a member of staff. Of course she was expelled.
  3. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I've never known any in over 20 years of teaching in state secondary, middle, primary and special schools and a few years in an independent prep.

    Does that mean it's rare? No idea.
    Pomza likes this.
  4. The-Gaffer

    The-Gaffer Occasional commenter

    I think a lot of that might be due to you having mainly permanent posts?

    I had no malicious allegations against me in 13 years, in 2 & a bit years on supply I was referred to the LADO once. no case to answer & the school kept me on - for that I’m grateful as supply can be no longer required very easily. The allegations, because I had to write statements about “what happened during ...” meant I knew who had accused me but not what of.

    interestingly I now work in a PRU & most days one of our staff is accused of something, usually being racist or sexist.

    I recognise this is not a typical school setting though
    agathamorse likes this.
  5. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Possibly. Though I've done a total of about 4 -5 years of supply, but not in the last 10 years.
    pepper5 likes this.
  6. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    Trust me when i say it's not rare. I've had loads and so have my colleagues and I mean everything yes even that !. All were unsubstantiated. Most of them were from pupils who were known trouble makers who with even worst parents. Some would eventually apologise others laughed at the distress they caused teachers as all allegations were investigated. I remember crying over such allegations. It was 20-30 yrs ago when we were young vulnerable new teachers. My colleagues have received worst. Maybe it is just me and I had this naïve innocent look about me ( easy fodder ) and my colleagues and the nasty children we had. The things these children would say really shocked me. The children would often ask me such terrible things I never knew even existed which I then had to report to child safe guarding team. The school is now completely different ( as I am ) and has a very affluent intake ..we receive a different type of complaint eg " don't you think Johnny should be given more challenging hwk" and do we do " art and culture evenings". Irritating but nothing like the bad old days.

    So my answer to OP is yes is was and for many is still going on.
  7. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Senior commenter

    I've had countless minor threats to 'get me done' for things. Got one today last lesson when I told some kids if they weren't going to be quiet and listen when I was telling them to pack away the equipment we'd pack away after the bell! Apparently it's now illegal to make kids late for CBBC!

    Casual threats of legal action occur all the time. Had a few just plain nasty ones too in my time. Mostly incurred by trying to enforce other people's rules! Always nice to feel supported when this happens but never felt that way very often!
  8. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    I've only known one allegation against one colleague, in 14 years.

    He's currently serving at Her Majesty's Pleasure for sex offences with minors.
  9. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    As a proportion of allegations made which relate to safeguarding it is very rare.

    It is wrong to conflate threats with safeguarding allegations.
    It is also wrong to conflate kids abusing or parents abusing staff with formal allegations/complaints.

    It is this kind of conflation which masks the real safeguarding elements of our jobs and can make both us and people around us doubt young people who are brave enough to come forward with a legitimate problem.

    When parents, children, guardians or members of the public approach the police, CSC, school or another body to make a formal concern they are more often than not based on truth. Whether that truth is the whole truth is a different matter, and we all know that perspective and other information informs the whole picture. However, to believe that these are malicious more often than not is dangerous, both because it is untrue and also because it leads us to treat them as untrue. If this method of thinking became commonplace, both in and out of school, then our ability to safeguard our children becomes severely compromised.
  10. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Senior commenter

    In my experience the only difference between a threat to get you done for something and a malicious safe guarding allegation is is how vindictive the student/family/SLT are!
  11. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    When a "banned teacher" article appears on TES it comes up prominently in initial unadorned "TES" search results, but it was only recently that my curiosity was piqued enough by one of the stories to look further.
    I read the public documents relating to the decision,and most of the inquiry was based on student allegation. Something had happened, allegedly, in the presence of just the student and the teacher. It was said that this student, obviously anonymised, had "no history of lying, presented coherently and remained calm throughout, so the panel decided on the balance of probability she was telling the truth"
    I cannot argue with a disciplinary or safeguarding panel. I was not privvy to all the facts and evidence and statements as they were.
    But the teacher was banned, and a key piece of evidence behind this decision was this balance of probability.

    I could not stop mulling over this precept of justice, for it cannot apply in this cursory almost ad hoc way in a court of law as far as I know. And I reflect on a friend of mine who,many years ago was banned from teaching for an untoward comment allegedly made to a child, which ended up distorted and in the local press.
    All these years,knowing this friend extremely well, and also having heard from her on the very day when the comment was alleged, about how this student had been castigated and sanctioned by her according to policy for something pretty sh$tty she had done, all of this told to me before anybody had even heard this allegation, the balance of probability was that the story was entirely made up.
    It broke her.
    I wish I could say more, but it's not the place. But the concept is there-that the parameters of "justice" for teachers,maybe other public servants too, mean that your public integrity and therefore continued inclusion in the profession is really not in your hands.

    Kick me, kids.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2019
  12. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    Only a criminal court has the high standard of 'beyond reasonable doubt'. Civil courts always rule on balance of probability.

    Obviously the school board is not a court, but it has legal and statutory responsibilities for safeguarding and so applying a similar standard as part of it's decision making is not unreasonable. If the teacher in question feels it has been unfair, or incorrectly applied, then their union can and should support them through any appeals process.
  13. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Yes, I know.
    My point was that in this example the balance of probability was based on "no history of lying, presented coherently and remained calm" as applied to a child.

    Well-I have been demonstrably lied to several times by several children who have presented precisely this balance of probability.

    Food for thought, in response to the opening post.
  14. FormosaRed

    FormosaRed Occasional commenter

    In my previous school, students knew they could make malicious allegations against staff in the full knowledge they would be believed. The result was a school that has gone from outstanding to tipping into special measures within a short few years. Needless to point out that once staff saw which way the wind was blowing, a third left for safer ground within 18 months. Some schools are literally being run by a bunch of disaffected, psychotic students and their parents.
  15. modgepodge

    modgepodge Established commenter

    One year at my old (primary) school, the same teacher had 2 allegations against her, a TA had an allegation against her, and 2 supply teacher had allegations against them. All were found to be unfounded or in one case malicious. No consequence to any child who made a false allegation.
    Cooperuk, agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  16. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    How do you know these things? That is a lot of stuff to claim to know. They are by nature confidential matters.
    Pomza and caterpillartobutterfly like this.
  17. peter12171

    peter12171 Star commenter

    This is where it becomes difficult for SLTs across the nation. All allegations made need to be taken seriously, and rightly so. Where is the line between being taken seriously and being believed drawn?
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  18. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Unfounded allegations that are not malicious should not come with consequences. Just because an allegation is found to be untrue, doesn't mean the person who made the allegation did something wrong.
  19. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    'Malicious' and 'Unfounded' regularly get treated as if they are the same thing on here but the DfE statutory safeguarding guidance is clear that they are not:

    200. The following definitions should be used when determining the outcome of allegation investigations:

    Substantiated: there is sufficient evidence to prove the allegation;
    Malicious: there is sufficient evidence to disprove the allegation and there has been a deliberate act to deceive;
    False: there is sufficient evidence to disprove the allegation;
    Unsubstantiated: there is insufficient evidence to either prove or disprove the allegation. The term, therefore, does not imply guilt or innocence;
    Unfounded: to reflect cases where there is no evidence or proper basis which supports the allegation being made.

  20. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Senior commenter

    So the main difference between malicious and unfounded is whom ever is investigating giving the accuser the benefit of the doubt?
    agathamorse likes this.

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