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Teachers’ Defence – National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) - “Teaching Agency” (TA).

Unlike other professions Teachers are regulated directly by the Secretary of State for Education through the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) commonly referred to as the “Teaching Agency”. Previously this had been the domain of the General Teaching Council (GTC) until this was abolished with the introduction of The Teachers’ Disciplinary (England) Regulations 2012, which came into effect on 1st April 2012.

Who is covered by the Regulatory system?

Teachers in all school settings come within the ambit of the regulations. Teachers are defined as those who do “teaching work”, which will include “Teachers and Instructors” but not Teaching Assistants and other support staff who operate under the supervision and direction of a Teacher. “School Setting” is defined as covering all Independent Schools, Sixth Form Colleges, Youth Custody settings, Children’s Homes, Academies, Free Schools, Local Authority Maintained Schools and Non-Maintained Special Schools. What does the Teaching Agency investigate? Only cases of “Serious Misconduct” will be investigated and not cases involving incompetence or underperformance.  Therefore only the most Serious Misconduct Cases should be referred. Incompetency should be dealt with at a local level by employers. What action could be taken? If the Teaching Agency considers that a Teacher may be guilty of “unacceptable conduct” or “conduct which may bring the Profession into disrepute” or has been “convicted” (at any time) of a relevant offence, the Teacher must be informed of the allegations and given the opportunity to submit written representations and evidence, in reply. The Teaching Agency will then determine whether the case should: 1. Be referred to the Professional Conduct Panel (PCP); 2. Take no action (discontinued). If the case is considered so serious at the investigation stage, the Secretary of State can impose an “Interim Prohibition Order” which would act as a prohibition until the case is finally determined by the Professional Conduct Committee. The Teacher is provided with 7 days’ notice, to enable any representations to be made. There is no appeal against such an order, if imposed.  It is subject to review at 6 monthly intervals. If the case is subsequently discontinued, the Interim Order ceases to have effect from that date.

Professional Conduct Panel:

This comprises of a selected Panel (minimum of 3) which will include at least one member of the Teaching Profession. The case is presented by a lawyer instructed by the Teaching Agency in which all the evidence is adduced. The Teacher has the right to be represented by any person or may represent him or herself. After hearing all of the evidence the Panel must determine the following questions, in sequence: 1. Has the case been proved, on the balance of probabilities? 2. If so, does this amount to “unacceptable professional conduct” or “conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute” or has there been a “conviction” of a relevant offence”? 3. If so, is it necessary to recommend the imposition of a Prohibition Order? This is the only sanction available to the PCP. In order to answer question 2, the Panel will consider whether the conduct fell significantly below that expected of a Teacher as judged by the latest Standards published on behalf of the Secretary of State by the Teaching Agency. This could be conduct both within and outside the teaching environment which brings the profession into disrepute. Convictions before a Criminal Court are also considered but must be for a “relevant offence”. These may be offences committed in England & Wales or abroad.

Prohibition Orders:

As the word implies, a Prohibition Order immediately stops a Teacher from being able to teach. This is the only sanction available to the Professional Conduct Panel by way of recommendation to the Secretary of State. A Prohibition Order once imposed can be for an indefinite period or subject to Review after a stipulated period of time (minimum - 2 years). When considering the imposition of a Prohibition Order, the Panel must take into account any mitigation put forward and also apply the principle of proportionality in balancing the interests of the Public with those of the Teacher. There is a right of Appeal to the High Court, but this must be made within 28 days of the Prohibition Order being served.

Review of Prohibition Orders: If granted the right of Review, the Teacher may apply to have the original Prohibition Order set aside. This must be in writing and specify the grounds. The Secretary of State must decide whether to allow the Review or refer the matter to the Professional Conduct Panel with such a recommendation. If the Review application is refused, it must specify when a subsequent Review could be made (minimum of 1 year).

How we can help:

At Bankside Law we fully appreciate the impact that any investigation can have on a Professional whose entire career is at stake.  We have significant experience in representing Teachers, gained over the years, during Police Investigations and ancillary Disciplinary Investigations. We have represented teachers on recommendation through the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. We strongly recommend that advice is sought as early as possible since this can have a fundamental impact as to how the matter progresses. We provide robust informed representation throughout for the best possible outcome.

If you are a teacher in need of advice please contact Bill Wilson on 0207 407 2356 for free initial advice if:

  • You are under investigation by the Police or another prosecution authority
  • Under NCTL (Teaching Agency) Investigation
  • Under NCTL (Teaching Agency) Professional Conduct Panel Hearings.
  • Seeking a Review Application
  • Seeking a High Court Appeal to the imposition of a Prohibition Order
  • Representations to the Disclosure & Barring Service.