Teacher misconduct: the prohibition of teachers

January 19th, 2014

The Department for Education has issued revised advice on the way in which teacher disciplinary panels will review misconduct by teachers.  The new advice is available here, and is accompanied by the government’s response to the consultation on the changes made to the advice.

The teacher prohibition regime is composed of sections 141A to 141E of the Education Act 2002 (read with Schedule 11 to that Act), and the The Teachers’ Disciplinary (England) Regulations 2012.  Sections 141A to 141E and Schedule 11 were inserted into the 2002 Act by section 8 of the Education Act 2011.  In short, the legislation provides that the Secretary of State may prohibit a teacher from carrying teaching work under section 141B of the 2002 Act following an investigation.  The two grounds for making a prohibition order are, broadly, that the teacher:

(a) is guilty of unacceptable professional conduct or conduct that may bring the teaching profession into disrepute, or
(b) has been convicted (at any time) of a relevant offence.

Relevant offence is defined  in effect as any offence that has any material relevance to the person’s fitness to be a teacher.  See the 11KBW Education Blog’s summary of the 2012 Regulations here, and a discussion of recent cases here.

The new advice primarily clarifies the DfE’s expectation that any sexual misconduct and any criminal conviction or caution involving indecent images of children is likely to lead to prohibition, save only in the most exceptional cases.  It also:

– Explicitly sets out that cautions as well as convictions will be taken into account by disciplinary panels, and provides guidance as to how they should be considered (pages 6-8 and 11);

– Clarifies what may be considered to constitute ‘sexual misconduct’ and ‘serious sexual misconduct’ (pages 10 & 12);

– States that behaviours associated with committing offences that did not in themselves result in a conviction are nevertheless relevant to the ‘unacceptable professional conduct’ and ‘conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute’ grounds set out above (pages 7-8).

Thomas Ogg

 

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