LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Teachers need extra protection
from pupils who abuse or humiliate them on "rate my teacher"
Web sites, a British union leader said on Thursday.
There is a growing trend for children to leave offensive
comments on the sites or to make allegations against staff on
social networking sites, National Association of Schoolmasters
Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) head Chris Keates said.
He said the rise in abusive messages has had an impact on
some teachers' health, while others say the public criticism
has damaged their careers.
"They actively encourage the abuse of school staff," Keates
said. "Teachers are named, exposed to ridicule and subjected to
false and malicious allegations."
The union wants the government to review the law to give
teachers more protection from being named on sites such as
Nearly a million teachers at 7,500 schools are listed on
the site, with staff given an "overall quality" rating based on
their popularity, clarity and helpfulness.
While most comments are positive, some random negative
views include: "An irritating harlot"; "She should be locked up
in Belmarsh (prison)" and "Nice bloke, can't teach."
The site's founder Michael Husey said 70 percent of the
comments were positive and teachers find the feedback useful.
All postings are read before being published. Any that
break the site's rules, which include restrictions on bad
language, appearance or sexuality, are deleted.
"I know it helps teachers," he said. "We get emails back
all the time from teachers ... who are using the Web site to
bring them closer to their students and create mutual respect.
"They (unions) are attacking things that undermine their
power structure. They aren't adjusting too well to the
Children and Schools Secretary Ed Balls said he understood
teachers' concerns about online bullying.
"Clearly anything that undermines the authority of teachers
has to be stopped," he said in a statement.
(Editing by Steve Addison and Paul Casciato)