Figures from the UK Department for Education show that around 44% of claims made by pupils and their parents were "unsubstantiated, malicious or unfounded", writes Graeme Paton at the Telegraph.
Despite widespread concerns over a wave of false claims, one in five cases saw teachers automatically suspended while investigations into allegations were carried out despite fewer than one in twenty allegations leveled at staff resulted in a criminal conviction. The Government warned that false allegations had a "devastating impact" on teachers' lives.
A new education bill will give teachers the legal right to anonymity until they are charged with a criminal offense, writes Paton.
Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister, said:
"Every allegation of abuse must be taken seriously, but some children think they can make a false allegation without any thought to the consequences for the teacher concerned. When these allegations are later found to be malicious or unfounded, the damage is already done. It can have a devastating impact and ruin a teacher's career and private life."
The Coalition advises head teachers to report pupils to the police if they have been found to be making false claims against staff.
"This research shows why the Coalition Government's plan to give teachers a legal right to anonymity when allegations are made by pupils is so important," says Gibb.
The Government data found that 12,086 allegations of abuse had been made by schools in 2009/10. It obtained the data from 116 out of 150 local authorities in England.
Almost a fifth resulted in teachers being suspended while allegations were investigated. More than half of investigations took longer than a month to complete – beyond the target limit identified by the Government, writes Paton.