The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

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Employer's responsibilities

Legal Obligations

Employers have a legal duty to refer a case to GTC Scotland if:

  • a teacher is dismissed on grounds of misconduct or incompetence
  • a teacher resigns or otherwise stops working for the employer in circumstances where, but for leaving that employment, the employer would have or might have dismissed the teacher on grounds of misconduct or incompetence

Discretionary Referrals

It is important to note that employers can make a referral to us if they are concerned about the conduct of a teacher at any time, even if formal disciplinary action has not yet been concluded or if the teacher remains in employment but serious concerns exist over their suitability to be a teacher.

Such a referral should be made where the employer is concerned that the conduct of the teacher suggests that he/she may not be fit to teach. The employer may refer to the Code of Professionalism and Conduct when considering whether to make a referral.

When should the case actually be referred?

The legal obligations placed on employers to refer a matter to us in the particular circumstances noted above take effect as soon as the teacher's employment is terminated. There is therefore an expectation that an employer will make the referral to us almost immediately following the dismissal or resignation event. Employers should not wait for any employment appeals process to be concluded before making the referral but, if such a process is ongoing, this should be pointed out as part of the referral.

Where an employer is making a discretionary referral, it is a matter for the employer to decide when to refer. As a matter of best practice, we would anticipate that employers would seek to make a referral at an early stage where the conduct matter involved raises child protection concerns in order that immediate protective steps could be taken. Where concerns are not of this extreme nature, and in fairness to the teacher concerned, referrals are best made after the employment procedure has been brought to a conclusion.

What information should be provided with a referral?

In any case where an employer refers a case to us, all information relating to the employer's investigation into the matter should be provided including copies of:

  • any relevant correspondence
  • the outcome and findings associated with any formal disciplinary proceedings taken
  • any investigation reports produced, accompanied by any witness statements taken

Guidance for making an Employer Referral

  1. Please include the outcome letter/investigation report and all appendices.
  2. It is helpful, if names are redacted in the paperwork, that a key is provided to aid our comprehension. We will continue to maintain pupil confidentiality but we may need to take our own statements, so knowing who is who is important.
  3. It's helpful if the referral provides us with a contact name for further correspondence (rather than just the person who made the chaired the disciplinary panel) particularly to facilitate contact with witnesses.
  4. Please make the referral at the same time as a dismissal or resignation, unless the concerns are particularly serious, in which case tell us as soon as possible. We are available on the telephone and by email to offer you advice.
  5. Please inform us if you have referred the matter to other agencies where relevant, particularly the police/PVG and whether they are taking any action following your referral.

Competence referrals

Employers should refer to the Framework on Teacher Competence (FTC) if they have concerns regarding the competence of a teacher. This document outlines how such concerns should be addressed by employers. It is made clear in the FTC that the Standard for Full Registration (SFR) is the document against which teacher’s competence should be measured.

We can only consider cases relating to the competence of registered teachers in relation to their performance as classroom teachers, in line with the SFR. We cannot consider concerns relating to the ability of teachers in terms of their performance within the specific criteria of promoted posts.

Investigating Referrals

Once a referral has been made to us, the matter will be investigated.

We seek to keep employers informed as to the progress of an investigation but contact may be made with our Investigating Officer at any time should this be helpful.