We rely on employers to alert us to fitness to teach concerns and to cooperate in our Fitness to Teach process.

We need your help to gather evidence and schedule hearings. We need you to share information with us. If you are aware of an ongoing police investigation let us know at once.

Our investigation is independent from any other processes including employer, police and criminal court processes.

Legally, we cannot rely on the findings made by employers or their case. We must gather evidence and pursue the lines of inquiry that we believe are necessary.

Sharing information with us 

When you share information with us, send investigation documentation that is complete and not redacted. This allows us to identify lines of inquiry so we can investigate effectively.

It also allows us to take immediate action to restrict the teacher or college lecturer’s registration, in the interests of public protection, in cases where they present a high risk.

We understand that data sharing is a complex landscape and we appreciate the issues that you face with this. Be assured there is a legal basis on which information can and must be shared with us to enable us to investigate fitness to teach.

When to refer a teacher or college lecturer to us

The teacher or college lecturer is no longer in your employment 

As an employer of a teacher or college lecturer, you must legally refer a case to us if:

  • a teacher or college lecturer is dismissed on grounds of misconduct or incompetence;
  • a teacher or college lecturer resigns or otherwise stops working for you in circumstances where you would have, or might have, otherwise dismissed them. This includes any teacher or college lecturer who has signed a compromise agreement, no matter the terms of that agreement, and any circumstance where the teacher or college lecturer has left employment but might have been dismissed on grounds of misconduct or incompetence.

These legal obligations take effect as soon as the teacher or college lecturer’s employment is terminated. Make the referral to us almost immediately following the teacher or college lecturer’s dismissal or resignation.

Do not wait for any employment appeal process to be concluded before making the referral. If such a process is ongoing, mention this in the referral.

The teacher or college lecturer is your employee

Although there is no legal requirement for you to make a referral when a teacher or college lecturer remains employed, there are circumstances when you should still refer them to us. Please do this as soon as possible so we can take immediate protective steps, if required.

Examples of when you should refer include:

  • when you have referred the teacher or college lecturer to Disclosure Scotland
  • you have serious concerns about the conduct of a teacher or college lecturer

Concerns about conduct

If you have serious concerns about the conduct of a teacher or college lecturer, you do not need to have concluded formal disciplinary action before making a referral.

This would apply where the allegations involve behaviour that is incompatible with being a teacher or college lecturer. For example, sexual abuse, violence or child protection matters. In this case, the risk is so serious that we need to take immediate action to restrict the teacher or college lecturer’s registration in the interests of public protection.

Where concerns about the teacher or college lecturer’s conduct are not of this nature, conclude your own disciplinary and then read our Fitness to Teach threshold policy to decide whether to make a referral.

Our threshold policy provides valuable information about our process. It explains how we make decisions about whether to investigate referrals.

Concerns about competence

If you have concerns about a teacher’s ability to teach, read the Framework on Teacher Competence (FTC).

This document outlines how such concerns should be addressed by employers. The Standard for Full Registration is the measure for assessing a classroom teacher’s ability to teach. We cannot consider concerns about the ability of teachers in promoted (e.g. management/leadership) posts.

Supporting your staff and learners through the process

Referred staff members

After we have told the teacher or college lecturer about the referral, we will share this with the employer listed on their record on the Register of Teachers.

We inform you so you can support the teacher or college lecturer through the process. You can find information to support them in our advice for referred teachers and college lecturers (link below).

If the teacher or college lecturer has not updated their record or have moved employment during an investigation, we may be unable to inform you.

If you find a flag on the Search the Register entry to say an employee is under investigation, please contact us for further details. We can only give this information in writing.

Staff members acting as witnesses 

Fitness to Teach relies on teachers and college lecturers taking part at various stages including as Panel members and witnesses.

Please release teachers, college lecturers and other staff to allow them to take part in our process and encourage them to do so. We are unable to progress cases without them.

It is in the best interests of everyone involved that we progress cases as quickly as possible.

Witnesses are an important part of our Fitness to Teach process. Their evidence helps us investigate concerns about teachers and college lecturers.

There are many ways witnesses take part in the process. View our advice for witnesses:

Learner witnesses

Learner witnesses can bring critical evidence in a case.

There are legal reasons why, for our process, we cannot always rely on a statement taken from a learner witness for the purposes of another process.

We will only interview a learner or former learner where we consider this necessary. Please support us in making these arrangements and talk to us about how you think we might best support the person concerned.

Wellbeing support

We know that being involved in the Fitness to Teach process may be stressful. The following services are available to you if you need them.

Education Support: 08000 562 561

Breathing Space: 0800 83 85 87

The Samaritans: 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org  

Teacher Support Network, Recourse and Turn2us: 08000 562 561, email support@teachersupport.info or download practical guides

Turn2us (0808 802 2000) is a free service that helps people in financial need access welfare benefits, charitable grants, and other financial help. Turn2us works in partnership with Teacher Support Scotland regarding the financial concerns of teachers.