Teachers could face rap over abuse signs

Teachers who fail to report signs of suspected abuse among their
pupils could face disciplinary action or dismissal under new

An amendment to the Education Bill, passed last week, will place
a legal duty on schools and local education authorities to make
arrangements that will safeguard and promote the welfare of

The move is a response to the death of Lauren Wright, who was
killed by her stepmother in May 2000. Weeks before she died, the
six-year-old attended school covered in bruises and weighing just
two stone. But teachers did not report this to social services. No
action could be taken against them because, while teachers had a
duty to report suspected abuse, the school child protection
guidelines were not legally enforceable.

The NSPCC which, along with Gillian Shephard MP, has campaigned
for a strengthening of the child protection role within schools, is
now calling on the government to ensure all teachers are fully
trained in child protection awareness as part of their professional

Research conducted by the charity shows that on average teachers
received just two hours of child protection training.

The study found that 80 per cent of teachers designated for
child protection were worried that many of their colleagues could
not recognise signs of child abuse and act on them. And two-thirds
of schools were unsure when to contact social services about a
child protection concern.

Child Protection and Education is available from the NSPCC
publications department on 020 7825 2775.

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