The investigations process
Throughout our investigating process, we aim to ensure that the process is fair and transparent and that any action taken is proportionate given all of the circumstances and options available. An outline of the process followed is set out below:
- Complaint received
A complaint may be referred to us from a variety of sources including employers and members of the public.
We are notified directly by the police of any conviction against a registered teacher. In the case of an individual applying for registration or re-registration we will obtain confirmation by checking the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme membership status of any convictions relating to that person, whether spent or unspent, as well as any other relevant non-conviction information which the police may make available.
Once a complaint is received by us, we investigate it to gather further information to provide to an Investigating Panel. Investigations vary according to the particular case circumstances but this may include corresponding with law enforcement agencies (e.g. the police), Courts, employers and any witnesses.
The investigation is carried out independently of any other process and is focused on the matter of fitness to teach. This is a very different focus from those investigation processes carried out by, for example, an employer who are considering an individual's status as an employee or a law enforcement agency who are considering whether an individual is guilty of a crime.
- Teacher/Applicant Responds
All information gathered is shared with the teacher/applicant concerned in order that they may respond to it.
We strongly suggest that advice should be sought from a professional association, trade union or solicitor as part of preparing or submitting a response.
We would suggest that a response should address the allegation(s) set out in the complaint and provide the teacher/applicant's version of events. Where appropriate, it is helpful if a teacher/applicant is able to show that they have reflected upon matters and taken any corrective action that may be appropriate or possible in the circumstances.
- Consideration of the complaint an Investigating Panel (IP)
IPs are made up of Council members, a majority of which must be registered teachers. There must always be at least 1 non-teacher on the Panel. The IP consist of 3 members sitting at any meeting in order to consider a case.
The teacher/applicant is given at least 28 days notice of the meeting at which their case will be considered.
IP meetings are held in private. Neither the teacher/applicant nor any complainant, employer or witness is entitled to attend. The IP makes its decision purely on the basis of the written evidence placed before it.
The IP will decide whether or not to refer the case to a Fitness to Teach Panel for a hearing. It may do so where it is satisfied that evidence has been provided that demonstrates that the individual concerned may not be fit to teach. This is not a determination of guilt, it is a determination that there is potentially an issue that the Fitness to Teach Panel should look at more fully.
The IP will make its decision taking into account all the circumstances of the complaint, including how long ago the alleged events took place and whether any other or similar complaints have been made about the teacher/applicant concerned. Each case is considered individually.
Where no referral is made by IP, the investigation process will be considered concluded at that point. Please note that the IP may also defer its decision in a case to a future meeting in order to allow further information to be obtained.
Part of the investigations process is the Investigating Panel (IP). Find out more about the Investigating Panels.
Investigating Panels (IP) are made up of members of Council and will sit as a panel of at least 3 members to give consideration to whether a complaint against a registered teacher or applicant should be referred to a hearing. If an IP does decide to refer a case for a hearing this will be heard by a Fitness to Teach (FtT) Panel.
IPs will have a majority of registered teachers on them and at least 1 non-teacher.
Meetings of an IP are held in private and the neither the teacher concerned, nor any complainants are entitled to attend. Decisions are taken on the basis of written submissions only.
The options open to an IP following consideration of a case are:
- To instruct that no further action is taken
- To adjourn its consideration of a complaint to a future meeting in order that further information can be obtained
- Issue a Reprimand Consent Order
- Refer the complaint to a FtT Panel
If an IP determines that there is a case to answer it can issue a Reprimand Consent Order which, if accepted by the teacher concerned would mean that a reprimand would be recorded against the teacher's entry on the register. This has the same effect as a reprimand issued following a FtT Panel.
If an IP does decide to refer a case to a FtT Panel this does not constitute a finding made or a final determination of the case, they are only making a decision that there is a case to answer.