UNISON says there are serious question marks over new child protection guidance after hundreds of innocent school staff are suspended.
UNISON’s Head of Education Jon Richards said:
“UNISON is totally committed to the safeguarding of children. However there are serious question marks over whether the Department for Education’s supplementary advice to schools is an effective tool in child protection. It has already resulted in hundreds of innocent staff being suspended from schools.
“Because the regulations apply to people living or working in the same household, many members of staff are being suspended for issues completely unrelated to child safety. Staff who have been in post for a long time and have demonstrated that they do not pose a risk are being suspended and left in limbo.
“The way that this advice has been rolled out means schools are misapplying it and suspending staff for issues unrelated to the regulations. We are also concerned that Ofsted may not have the capacity to deal with all these cases quickly, which will be disruptive for both staff and pupils. UNISON is dealing with more than 300 cases but it is still early days, and there is no doubt this number will rise
“We also have concerns that the questions being asked by some schools are breaching the Data Protection Act, causing unnecessary stress, unwarranted reputational damage and invading privacy.
“There has been no satisfactory explanation from the Department as to why this advice has been issued, and why there was no prior consultation with trade unions. If the advice is not going to be withdrawn, we need a proper consultation that results in a far more sensible approach.”