“It’s not fair that the accused is not protected from adverse publicity whilst the accuser is guaranteed anonymity, whatever the verdict.”
Jonathan King (1944- )
“Sacrificing anonymity may be the next generation’s price for keeping precious liberty, as prior generations paid in blood.” Hal Norby
The Education Bill ("Michael Gove - Falling Down On The Job 3")
“The Emporer’s New Clothes”
An Emperor who cares for nothing but his wardrobe hires two weavers who promise him the finest suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or “just hopelessly stupid”. The Emperor cannot see the cloth himself, but pretends that he can for fear of appearing unfit for his position or stupid; his ministers do the same.
When the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they dress him in mime and the Emperor then marches in procession before his subjects. A child in the crowd calls out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor cringes, suspecting the assertion is true, but holds himself up proudly and continues the procession.
Teachers are to be granted anonymity when pupils make allegations against them, which will only be lifted if a charge is made. The proposals are set out in Michael Gove’s Education Bill.
The teachers’ unions were quick to rush in with their responses, laying claim to the fact that it was their initiatives and actions that has now resulted in the government’s bequest :
Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union said : “We are pleased that the Government has responded to our calls for safeguards for teachers facing allegations. False complaints have a devastating impact on innocent teachers, who may find themselves outcast within their community, but this can be reduced if anonymity is retained.”
Philip Parkin, General Secretary of Voice said : “We have been campaigning for the right to anonymity unless and until charged with a criminal offence.”
Somewhat surprisingly and completely out of character :
(Why do the NUT and NASUWT always make the claim that they’re the biggest union - one of them must be but which ? And remember that biggest isn’t always best !)
Then teacher support agencies blew their trumpets :
In a BBC radio interview, Helen Denton, Executive Director for Children & Young People, Lancashire County Council expressed doubts about Michael Gove’s promise to provide anonomity. She was of the opinion that it was not realistic and that anonomity could not be assured :
Anonymity will never be easy to ensure and protect; however it would not be expected that the LEA would provide press releases to all local newspapers – they did in my case and on three occasions ! They also failed to alert me to the fact that they had spoken with the press and that a story would be featured.
I have always pondered who had contacted the press, it was odd that the Chorley Guardian should have covered two stories on 3 October 2007 about Duke Street Primary School. The first presented an article about Andrew Kidd, head teacher and another reporting the allegation. It seemed too coincidental. I did ask Lancashire Evening Post who had reported the story. They said that, as with many stories, they had received an anonymous call. The Chorley Guardian said that they could not divulge such confidential information. I pointed out the coincidental publication of the two articles and asked how that was possible. In the end, they intimated that it was a school employee but refused to provide any other details.