LONDON - Nearly three in 10 British teachers have faced false allegations of misconduct from pupils, according to a poll published yesterday.
The survey for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers found that 28percent of staff had faced allegations that later proved to be groundless.
Mary Bousted, the union's general secretary, said false claims blighted teachers' careers, private lives and health.
"It is time the balance was redressed so that school staff are not presumed guilty until proven innocent," she said. "We are losing good teachers, heads and support staff to the detriment of children's education."
The authorities should also consider allowing staff under investigation to remain anonymous to make it easier for them to resume work if the claims do not stand up.
The survey of 1155 teachers and support staff in private and state schools found that half of the allegations were immediately dismissed.
Police were involved in 16percent of the cases. They took no action in 55 of the 67 cases.
The union, which has 160000 members, said staff were at risk of malicious claims by a handful of pupils who are then copied by other children.
An anonymous teacher from Wales, head of a department at his school, said he faced a false allegation after reprimanding a pupil for being late.
"Though the allegation was bogus ... a record of the allegation would be made and kept on my personnel file."
A separate poll for the same union in April found that nearly half of staff had considered leaving because of pupils' bad behaviour.
A fifth said they had suffered mental health problems due to the stress of coping with their pupils. - Reuters