Suffolk/Essex: Teachers dismissed after abuse claims

NEARLY 20 teaching staff have been sacked from Suffolk and Essex schools over allegations of physical and sexual abuse during the past three academic years, figures have revealed.

A study for law firm IBB Solicitors found a total of 342 allegations of abuse have been made against qualified teaching staff at schools between 2008 and 2011.

In Essex, the total number of allegations stands at 299 with 97 in 2010/11, 95 in 2009/10 and 107 the previous academic year, while in Suffolk there were 13 in 2010/11, 20 in 2009/10 and nine the year before.

The study, Safe from Harm, also found that the number of suspensions has risen from three in 2009/10 to 15 in 2010/11 in Essex, while Suffolk’s suspension rate has remained the same at four a year during the same period.

From the founded allegations, a total of nine teaching staff have been dismissed from their posts in Essex and eight in Suffolk.

Graham Newman, Suffolk’s cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said Suffolk County Council takes safeguarding concerns seriously.

“Where concerns are raised they are appropriately and robustly investigated and the necessary action is taken,” he added. “The numbers of cases in Suffolk continue to remain low in comparison to our statistical neighbours.

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“This is in no small part due to the work of the county’s Children Safeguarding Board who deliver training, advice and guidance to all schools in Suffolk.

“However, one case is one too many and we will continue to focus our efforts on ensuring young people can enjoy a fulfilling education experience in a safe and nurturing environment.”

Nationally the figures revealed a 19% increase in allegations of physical and sexual child abuse in schools in the past three academic years. In that time dismissals have increased by 66% and suspensions have risen by 41%.

An Essex County Council spokesman said: “All schools across Essex must have a child protection and safeguarding policy to ensure the safety and wellbeing of pupils.

“If schools have concerns they can, and do, contact our Safeguarding Service who are always available to provide guidance and support to teachers.”

The study, based on Freedom of Information requests to both county councils, was commissioned to see if children are better protected by measures introduced in the wake of the murders of Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

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