NEWS • VIEWS • INFORMATION • ADVICE
RUGBY TACKLES HOMOPHOBIA
The NASUWT has helped the Sheffield Eagles to make history by becoming the first professional sports team to wear an anti-homophobia slogan on their kit.
The rugby league side, which plays in the Co-operative Championship division, now takes to the field in a specially commissioned kit printed with the slogan ‘Homophobia: tackle it!’ on the chest.
The kit has been sponsored by the NASUWT, along with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History Month and other teacher unions.
The kit was officially launched in March, with the team being presented with the first ever Pride Sports Challenge Cup in recognition of rugby league’s support of LGBT History Month.
The NASUWT is a supporter of Pride Sports, an organisation that works to tackle homophobia in sport. LGBT History Month, which is held annually each February to celebrate the contribution and achievements of LGBT people in society, has made sport its theme for the next two years in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics.
Further details can be found at www.lgbthistorymonth.org.uk and www.pridesports.org.uk. Resources and advice are also available at www.nasuwt.org.uk/LGBT.
Landmark ruling gives more protection to teachers
National police procedures must be rewritten following a court ruling on the wrongful arrest of a NASUWT member.
The High Court has ruled that the police unlawfully arrested and falsely imprisoned a member of the NASUWT who voluntarily attended a police station for interview after a pupil made an allegation of assault against him.
The police will also now be required to consider removing the entry of the arrest on the Police National Computer (PNC) and destroying DNA samples, fingerprints and photographs taken of the teacher or face further legal action.
The decision marks a significant victory in the NASUWT’s campaign to protect teachers’ lives and careers from being blighted as a result of false allegations made by pupils.
Around 95% of NASUWT members who are arrested following allegations made by pupils are completely exonerated, but many are left virtually unemployable as the disclosure of the arrest on Enhanced CRB Certificates that teachers are required to produce is generally fatal in any future job application and can also jeopardise their current employment.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said: “This is a landmark decision for teachers and others who are vulnerable to allegations made by children and young people.
“New guidance for police is needed urgently to prevent these needless arrests that wreck innocent people’s careers.
“On the basis of the judgement, I will be writing to the Secretary of State for Education and the Home Secretary to seek changes to national procedures to end this disgraceful practice.”
In a separate move, the Coalition Government recently announced that it was introducing new powers for headteachers to prosecute and permanently exclude pupils for making false allegations.
No details of how these powers will operate has been forthcoming and the NASUWT is concerned this move is more about populist headline grabbing than giving real protection to teachers.
“There is no information on whether making a false allegation is now to become a criminal offence, how this will protect teachers from children who are under the age of legal responsibility and what the penalties will be if such a prosecution is mounted,” Ms Keates said.
The decision by the Coalition to introduce fines for schools and make them formally accountable for the educational outcomes of excluded students could also act as a disincentive to schools, she argued.
“Headteachers already have the power to permanently exclude pupils who make false allegations. Unfortunately, there are still too many who fail to do this.”
Since the NASUWT started campaigning on the issue of false allegations in 1990, considerable progress has been made on improving the relevant procedures, but the Union believes more needs to be done.
The NASUWT is calling for:
• police guidance to be rewritten;
• training to be introduced for police officers to prevent teachers being arrested when they voluntarily and willingly cooperate with an investigation into an allegation made against them; and
• a legal provision to be introduced to provide anonymity for staff facing allegations up to the point of a court decision.
Further advice can be found at www.nasuwt.org.uk/falseallegations