Almost 1,000 teachers nationally have been accused of having a relationship with a pupil in the last five years, according to a Freedom of Information request, with ten teachers in Cornwall suspended over for allegations of improper relationships with pupils over the past three years.

The national figures, obtained by the BBC, show that between 2008 and 2013, at least 959 teachers and other school staff were accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a pupil.

At least 254 of these cases (26 per cent) led to a police charge, the findings show, although it was not clear from the responses how many of these cases led to a prosecution, conviction, or were dismissed.

The data is based on responses from 137 councils who were asked how many school staff were suspended, dismissed or faced disciplinary action after being accused of some form of sexual relationship with a pupil.

The statistics apply to state schools under local council control.

In Cornwall the ten suspensions were related to allegations of sexual contact or behaviour and the allegations were investigated by Devon and Cornwall police, although the force has not said what action was taken.

Cornwall Council, which responded to the FOI request, has not said which schools were involved.

Donald Findlater, a child abuse expert with The Lucy Faithfull Foundation told Newsbeat: "If a child develops the courage to say something, we have to take it seriously.

"That does not mean we have to assume it is absolutely true, but we have to take it seriously and investigate it."

He said that he agreed that a false claim can ruin a teacher's career, but added that research conducted for the Government had shown that just two per cent of allegations against teachers are malicious.

Teaching unions said that any teacher that abuses their position should face the full consequences but also said they had concerns about the impact of false claims.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) told the BBC: "There can be misunderstandings and malicious allegations are made, so it is critical that investigations are carried out quickly with due process."