The investigation process
When we receive a referral, we review the allegations. We use our Threshold Policy to decide if we should investigate.
Saying that a teacher or college lecturer’s fitness to teach is impaired is a serious matter. You are alleging that they have done something that raises concerns about their ongoing fitness to teach and they are a risk, now and in the future.
The purpose of an investigation is to find out what has happened and establish if action should be taken in the public interest.
We gather information to establish if the teacher or college lecturer’s fitness to teach is impaired.
We approach the investigation process in a neutral way.
We are not investigating to build a case for or against the teacher or college lecturer.
How long does the fitness to teach investigation process take?
How long the investigation process takes depends on the complexity of the allegations and the information that needs to be gathered. It also depends on if the allegations are being investigated somewhere else (for example by the police).
Who we speak to during an investigation
Sometimes we need to make a lot of enquiries and speak to many people. Sometimes we do not need to do much.
Our investigations can involve asking the person who has made the referral to provide more information. We may not need to speak to the referrer – it depends on whether they have relevant information to provide. We may also contact the teacher or college lecturer’s current/former employer, the police or courts for information.
We often need to speak to people who have been identified as witnesses. Witnesses are individuals who might have seen what happened or been involved in some way.
If a teacher or college lecturer recognises that they have made an error in judgement or have done something wrong, we will investigate what they have done to:
- reflect on events openly and honestly,
- learn and make changes to ensure there will be no repetition.
We encourage people who are referred to us to engage early with the investigation and provide as much relevant information and insight as possible about the allegations.
What happens when we finish an investigation
When we have finished the investigation, we produce an investigation report and consider if there is sufficient evidence to prove the allegation(s).
We continually assess the case as information is gathered to ensure a fitness to teach investigation is still justified.
We close cases if we find that:
- the case no longer meets the required investigation threshold or;
- there is insufficient evidence available to support the allegation(s).
Unless a case is closed, it is considered by a Panel at the end of the investigation.
Stages of the Investigation Process
Notice of Investigation
The teacher/college lecturer and any known employer are informed that an investigation has started.
The teacher/college lecturer has 14 days to supply a first response to the allegations.
We will investigate to gather the relevant information.
We may take witness statements, or contact an employer, police, or others for information.
This usually takes around 6 months. It can take longer if we are waiting for employer investigations or criminal procedures to conclude.
We will continually assess:
- if it is in the public interest to continue the investigation and
- if there is enough evidence to support the allegation.
- We will decide if there is enough evidence to support the allegation.
- The Investigation Report is produced and provided to the teacher or college lecturer.
- The teacher or college lecturer has 28 days to respond to the Report.
Panel Consideration meeting
- The Panel will consider the case in private based on the paperwork. The teacher or college lecturer does not attend the meeting and neither do witnesses.
- The Panel decides what should happen next with the case.
- The Panel’s decision will be sent to the teacher or college lecturer, usually within 28 days. The employer, referrer and those who have given witness statements are also informed.
Find out more about Panel Consideration Meetings.