The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) determines which criteria defines whether a teacher should be prohibited from working in schools on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education.
The Education Act 2011 gives responsibility to the Secretary of State to regulate teachers’ conduct and to hold a list of teachers who have been prohibited from teaching. Schools are required to refer cases which meet their criteria (see below) and to check the Prohibited List, to ensure that the teachers they either currently employ or intend to employ, are eligible to teach. They must also hold this data on the school’s Single Central Record.
Prohibition decisions are determined by the NCTL and each finding is published in report format on the gov.uk website. Each case makes for an extremely interesting read. The number of cases relating to teachers who blur the boundaries or embark on sexual relationships with students is staggering, as is the number of teachers who falsify their employment history and qualifications. Sadly, it appears that the relevant checks are not always being completed through a robust safer recruitment process.
What constitutes the recommendation for imposing a prohibition order?
A prohibition order means that the person concerned is NOT allowed to undertake unsupervised teaching work in schools or the other settings. Where an individual is prohibited, their details will appear on the Prohibited List.
A prohibition order is likely to be appropriate when the behaviour of the person concerned has been fundamentally incompatible with being a teacher. The primary purpose of a prohibition order is:
- to protect pupils
- maintain public confidence in the teaching profession
- uphold proper standards of conduct, referred to as public interest.
There are three key areas of finding ‘unacceptable professional conduct’, ‘conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute’ or a ‘conviction, at any time, of a relevant offence’. The process for hearing a case can be lengthy and there is a requirement to ensure a fair hearing. It’s therefore important for employers to know that if certain criteria are met, an interim prohibition order can be imposed by the NCTL whilst a case is being heard and will be clearly marked as such on the Prohibited List.
The key principles are:
- The NCTL should only be involved in the most serious cases of gross misconduct to determine whether a teacher should be prohibited from teaching work.
- Cases of gross misconduct should be referred to the NCTL where the teacher has been dismissed or would have been dismissed had they not resigned.
The NCTL are heavily reliant upon the information submitted by the employer, police and other agencies in order to reach an informed decision. As an employer, you must ensure that your investigations are thorough taking legal and HR advice where necessary.
Referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service vs the Prohibition of Teachers – What’s the difference?
The DBS will consider cases that concern safeguarding matters (i.e. harm or the risk of harm to a child), barring individuals from working with children where appropriate. When considering whether to bar a teacher, the criteria used by the DBS differ from those used by the NCTL. Where the DBS has decided a case does not meet its criteria for barring, the NCTL can still decide to refer the case to a professional conduct panel for consideration. Cases should be referred to either one or both agencies if the case meets the criteria.
The NCTL panel must decide whether the facts of the case have been proven on the balance of probabilities, as is the case with employers’ disciplinary hearings. A different standard is applied in criminal law of reasonable doubt. In determining the facts, the panel consider criminal convictions and cautions, in addition to whether there has been;
a) “unacceptable professional conduct”;
b) “conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute”;
c) “conviction, at any time of a relevant offence”
The latest NCTL guidance includes the following list of ‘relevant offences’ which include:
- intolerance and/or hatred on the grounds of race/religion or sexual orientation;
- fraud or serious dishonesty;
- theft from a person or other serious theft;
- possession of class A drugs;
- supplying of illegal substances of any classification;
- sexual activity;
- arson and other major criminal damage;
- serious driving offences, particularly those involving alcohol or drugs;
- serious offences involving alcohol;
- serious offences involving gambling;
- possession of prohibited firearms, knives or other weapons;
- any activity involving viewing, taking, making, possessing, distributing or publishing any indecent photograph or image or pseudo-photograph or image of a child, or permitting any such activity, including one-off incidents.
In making their decision the panel will consider any relevant mitigating factors but once a decision is made a prohibition order applies for life. However, it may be decided that a teacher should be allowed to apply to have the prohibition order reviewed after a specified period of time, the minimum being two years.
A copy of the latest guidance can be accessed using this link
Support is available from FusionHR for all investigation and disciplinary matters, including advice on your Single Central Register, Teacher Prohibition and DBS referrals and also Accredited Safer Recruitment training. Please speak to your HR Advisor for more information, call 01924 827869 or email email@example.com