The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

Making a referral about a teacher

You can make a referral about a teacher using our online form. When we receive a referral about a registered teacher or an applicant for registration, consideration is first given to whether the referral is relevant to determining a person's fitness to teach.

If we determine that the referral may be relevant to their fitness to teach, appropriate investigations will be carried out. We may ask the complainant to provide evidence to support the referral, contact any employer concerned to seek additional information or ask law enforcement agencies (e.g. the police) to provide us with information. All information received will be shared with the teacher or applicant concerned and he/she will be given an opportunity to provide a response to it.

Our Investigating Panel (IP) will consider all of the information provided in relation to the complaint and decide whether the matter should be referred to a hearing before a Fitness to Teach (FtT) Panel.

Fitness to Teach Outcome Statistics

  Jul 2014 Aug 2014 Sep 2014 Oct 2014 Nov 2014 Dec 2014
Removal Order   1 1 1 1  
Removal with Consent Order       1 1  
Reprimand Order 1          
Reprimand with Consent Order       2 1  
Conditional Registration Order            
Conditional Registration & Reprimand Order   1        
Application Refused            
Application Granted       1    
No Impairment to Fitness to Teach     1   1  
No Order            


Making a referral as a member of the public

What referrals do we consider and why?

In ensuring that teachers achieve and maintain professional standards of conduct and competence, we investigate and consider referrals to us that question whether teachers who are registered with us or who have applied to be registered have met and are maintaining the required professional standards and are fit to teach.

The types of referrals that we consider relate to alleged misconduct, alleged incompetence and any conviction for a criminal offence. Allegations of misconduct may be referred to us by anyone including employers and members of the public. Allegations of professional incompetence may only be referred to us by employers. We are notified of criminal convictions by police authorities and in the course of applicant disclosure checks/vetting. We are often asked why it is necessary for us to investigate and consider referrals when action may already have been taken by the teacher's employer and/or by the police/courts through the criminal justice system. The answer to this is that we are legally required to take these steps in our distinct role as a professional regulator.

The reasons for this are:

  • We consider allegations in terms of whether they question whether the person has met and maintained the required professional standards - this is distinct from what employers and the police/courts consider. Employers are concerned with the impact that the allegations have on employment and the police/courts are concerned with whether the criminal law has been broken. In order to maintain standards of professionalism and conduct within teaching, it is essential that we consider the allegations from this distinct, fitness to teach, perspective
  • Where allegations are found to be established and where we determine that it is appropriate to do so (for example, where there are child protection concerns), we can remove the teacher from our register. This means that the teacher concerned may not be employed by any Scottish local authority and would not be eligible to work in the vast majority of Scotland's independent schools. The existence of a Register of those who are fit to teach is an essential part of ensuring the safety of children, young people and learners
  • The police/courts must prove a criminal allegation "beyond reasonable doubt". Sometimes it is difficult to prove an allegation to the criminal standard based on the evidence that is available, particularly where the offence alleged involves young children. We require to prove allegations on the "balance of probabilities" in order to take appropriate action

What we can't do

Our FtT process centres solely on the question of whether the person concerned is fit to teach in terms of their suitability to be a member of the profession. We can't:

  • intervene or overturn any decision made by a school or local authority
  • investigate referrals against a school or local authority in terms of how they have dealt with a particular situation
  • facilitate mediation between any teachers and members of the public
  • ask that a teacher apologise for any action
  • investigate any allegation from a member of the public that relates to the competence of a teacher
  • intervene in matters between an employer and a teacher

To raise a referral

You can raise a referral with us by completing the online referral form.

Please read the information provided on the form and then submit the completed form to the Fitness to Teach department.

Details of any referral will be shared, in full with the teacher against whom the referral is made.

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


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 that, if names are redacted in the paperwork, 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.

To raise a referral

You can raise a referral with us by completing the online referral form.

Please read the information provided on the form and then submit the completed form to the Fitness to Teach department.