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 a position of trust for personal gain. This includes any position of trust held by a teacher both inside and outside of the workplace
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 sexual abuse and possession of child sexual abuse images)
Behaviour which is discriminatory or demonstrates intolerance or prejudice of another’s background, personal circumstances, cultural differences, values and beliefs
Substance abuse or misuse
Public expression/demonstration of views through social media or other means that undermine confidence in the teaching profession or infringe the rights of others by being abusive, offensive or inflammatory or comments that lead to a reasonable belief that the individual would discriminate against certain types of people.
Fraud or dishonesty that is material, of consequence and demonstrates an intention to deceive


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 the Standard for Full Registration to assess a teacher’s competence and the Standard for Provisional Registration to assess provisionally registered teacher’s competence.

There would be concerns about a teacher’s ability if their professional knowledge, skills or  abilities  fell short of these standards.

College lecturers

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 explains what we investigate in more detail: