What we investigate

We investigate when an allegation is of a level of seriousness that we think a teacher or college lecturer is a risk to children, young people, students and/or colleagues.  We also investigate where we think there is a potential risk to public confidence in the teaching profession. 

We investigate when, based on the information received, we think there is a prospect that a teacher or college lecturer’s fitness to teach would be found to be impaired.  

We investigate conduct. The process we follow for competence is different and involves employers. 

Our investigations are thorough, involving evidence gathering and hearings.  


We investigate the way a teacher or college lecturer has allegedly behaved, if the allegation is serious enough to meet our threshold for investigation.   We consider allegations based on behaviours both inside and outside the workplace if we think there is a realistic prospect that the teacher’s fitness to teach would be found to be impaired.

We use the Code of Professionalism and Conduct to assess a teacher or college lecturer’s behaviour.  

Examples of behaviours that may raise a concern about a teacher or college lecturer’s fitness to teach

Abuse of their position of trust for personal gain.  
Forming, or trying to form, inappropriate relationships with learners/young people/vulnerable adults.  
Behaviour of a violent, aggressive or threatening nature.  
Sexual misconduct or indecency (including child pornography).  
Behaviour which is discriminatory or demonstrates intolerance or prejudice of another’s background, personal circumstances, cultural differences, values and beliefs.  
Substance abuse or misuse.  
Misuse of social media or other public expression/demonstration of views that undermines confidence in the teaching profession or infringes the rights of others by being of an abusive, offensive, inflammatory or discriminatory nature.  
Fraud or dishonesty that is material, of consequence and demonstrates an intention to mislead. 


We can investigate teacher’s skills, knowledge and ability to teach, which we call competence. 

Only employers can refer a teacher to us based on their professional competence. If you are a member of the public, raise concerns about a teacher’s ability to teach to their employer. 

How we assess

We use:  

There would be concerns about a teacher’s ability if their:  

  • professional knowledge;   
  • skills; or   
  • abilities   

fell short of these standards.  

College Lecturer’s competence
Although there is a legal obligation on employers to refer a registered college lecturer on grounds of competence, there is no benchmark standard for college lecturers. Accordingly, we cannot progress competence referrals about college lecturers for the time being.

How we assess Fitness to Teach

When we assess fitness to teach we look at:  

  • the shortfalls in behaviour or ability to teach identified;  
  • where the teacher or college lecturer is now in terms of the standards expected of them.   

In line with the law, we consider:  

  • what steps have been taken by the teacher or college lecturer to reflect openly and honestly on the issues;  
  • how the teacher or college lecturer has learned from mistakes;  
  • how the teacher or college lecturer has made changes to ensure the issues will not happen again.    

This approach recognises that we all make mistakes.  

There are times when the shortfalls found are in areas so fundamental to being in the teaching profession that there is no possibility for them to be made right. If this is the case, the teacher or college lecturer will be removed from the Register of Teachers.  

 We aim for the investigation process to be fair and transparent and that any action taken is proportionate given all the circumstances and available options.  

Our Threshold Policy (PDF 127 KB) explains what we investigate in more detail.  

© The General Teaching Council for Scotland - Registered Scottish Charity No. SC006187