Teacher misconduct: referring a case

How to refer cases of teacher misconduct. Includes who can make a referral and in what circumstances.


The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL), acting on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education, is responsible for investigating allegations of serious misconduct against teachers and headteachers in schools in England.

If appropriate, NCTL can prohibit a teacher from teaching in schools, relevant youth accommodation, sixth form colleges and children’s homes in England.

Who can be referred

Allegations can be referred to NCTL if they relate to anyone undertaking teaching work in all schools in England, including:

  • independent schools
  • sixth form colleges
  • relevant youth accommodation
  • children’s homes

This includes headteachers and their assistants and deputies.

Teachers who may be subject to disciplinary procedures should refer to Teacher misconduct: information for teachers.

NCTL won’t investigate cases where the Secretary of State has no legal powers. Examples include:

  • if the allegation relates to professional incompetence
  • if the person is not a teacher

If the allegation may be appropriate for another regulatory body or other organisation to investigate, NCTL will contact that body as soon as possible and may forward relevant details to them.

Referring a case against a teacher

Allegations of serious misconduct against a teacher may be referred to NCTL by any of the following:

  • a teacher’s employer, including an employment or supply agency
  • members of the public who think that a case of misconduct by a teacher is serious enough to warrant a prohibition order
  • the police
  • the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and other regulators who are aware of relevant information

A referral is appropriate if the alleged misconduct is so serious that it warrants a decision on whether the teacher should be prevented from teaching. Cases of less serious misconduct, and all cases of incompetence, should be dealt with locally by employers.

NCTL can put an interim prohibition order in place to prevent a teacher from teaching until their case has been fully investigated. The prohibition of teachers explains the types of misconduct and relevant offences that may lead to prohibition.

Referrals by employers

Employers have a statutory duty to consider referral of cases involving serious professional misconduct to NCTL.

Where a teacher’s employer has dismissed the teacher for misconduct, or would have dismissed them had they not resigned first, they must consider whether to refer the case to NCTL.

If you decide to make a referral, make sure you set your concerns out fully, explaining your reasons for making a complaint, and enclosing all previous correspondence and relevant documentation.

Employers should use the Teacher misconduct referral form for employers and include the following information:

  • details of all relevant conduct by the teacher
  • all relevant evidence regarding such conduct
  • all relevant evidence submitted by the teacher

Examples of the types of information that may be relevant are:

  • letter or notice terminating a teacher’s employment
  • statement of reasons for dismissal
  • employer’s records relating to the dismissal or any contemplated dismissal, including those on the teacher’s conduct up to that point, such as notes and minutes of meetings; interview notes; and evidence supplied to or obtained by the employer
  • employer’s letters, warnings or notices issued to the teacher and the teacher’s replies or representations relating to them
  • any other statements, representations and evidence submitted by the teacher to the employer
  • letter of resignation

NCTL will decide on the level of seriousness of the case and whether there is enough evidence to investigate further. We will then confirm whether a referral will lead to an investigation and a hearing, as set out in our disciplinary procedures.

Referrals by members of the public

Members of the public may consider referring a possible case of misconduct to NCTL where it is serious enough to warrant a prohibition order.

However, this should only be considered after all possible local procedures have been followed, including contacting the school’s headteacher and/or chair of governors or the local authority, where they are the teacher’s employer.

Referrals should be made using the Teacher misconduct referral form for members of the public and should include as much relevant information and evidence as possible, as well as details of the local procedures that have already taken place to deal with the allegation.

NCTL will confirm whether a referral will lead to an investigation and a hearing, as set out in our disciplinary procedures.


Safeguarding is when an allegation against a teacher is in any way connected to the risk of harm, or actual harm to a child. In such a case a referral should be made to the Disclosure and Barring Service. Contact details for the DBS are below.

If a safeguarding issue also involves misconduct by a teacher, a referral should be made to both the DBS and NCTL. NCTL and the DBS will consider the misconduct and safeguarding aspects of the case respectively and in parallel.

DBS barring

DBS barring
PO Box 3963
Royal Wootton Bassett

We cannot guarantee the security of information until it is in our possession, and will not take responsibility for such information until we receive it. For this reason we recommend submitting referrals via our secure online referral form, however if you are using a paper referral form we recommend using registered post.

You can also use Webchat on DBS online services to contact us about any general enquiries.


Please contact us if you have any questions about referring a case.

Teacher misconduct

53-55 Butts Road
Earlsdon Park

Published 28 March 2014