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Teacher misconduct: regulating the teaching profession
Find out how misconduct in the teaching profession is regulated, investigated and managed.
All schools in England are required to have a published complaints procedure. If you wish to make a complaint about a teacher, you should follow this procedure in the first instance.
Please refer to our guide Complain about your child’s state school for details on the complaints procedure.
Regulation of teacher misconduct
In cases of serious teacher misconduct where you have already been through all the local complaints procedures, you can make a referral to the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL), which is an executive agency of the Department for Education.
NCTL is responsible for regulating the teaching profession in England. We investigate cases of serious teacher misconduct and decide whether to refer a case to a professional conduct panel. The panel then investigates whether a prohibition order should be issued.
The Education Act 2011 gives responsibility, from 1 April 2012, to the Secretary of State for Education to regulate the teaching profession in England and to hold a list of teachers who have been prohibited from teaching.
The Teachers’ Disciplinary (England) Regulations 2012 (the Regulations) as amended by The Teachers’ Disciplinary (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2014 provide information about the arrangements. NCTL operates these on behalf of the Secretary of State.
These regulations apply to all people carrying out teaching work in England, covering:
- all schools
- sixth form colleges
- children’s homes
- youth accommodation
They cover cases of serious misconduct. This is when a teacher’s behaviour:
- is fundamentally incompatible with being a teacher
- could lead to them being prohibited from teaching
The regulations don’t cover the cases of less serious misconduct, incompetence or under-performance. A teacher’s employer should deal with these cases.
Professional conduct panels
Panel members are recruited through a public appointments process. A panel consists of 3 members, and will include: a teacher, or someone who has been a teacher in the previous 5 years; and a layperson, specifically not from the teaching profession. The third panel member may be a person who has taught previously, but does not currently meet the ‘teacher panellist’ criteria and will be referred to as a ‘former teacher panellist’.
We will appoint one panellist to act as chair.
A legal adviser is present to advise the panel on the legal process. They can’t be a member of the Department for Education and will take no part in the decision-making process.
The teacher will be able to submit relevant evidence and will be given the opportunity to comment on all the evidence that NCTL is considering relating to their case. For more detailed information, please see these publications.
Details of forthcoming hearings will be published 5 working days before they are due to take place.
Hearings are usually held in public and can be observed by members of the press and the public. However, they may sometimes be held in private, for example to protect children or vulnerable witnesses. For more information on observing hearings, please see Teacher misconduct: information for observers.
The teacher may appear in person and/or be represented by someone else. Both the teacher and the person presenting the case may call witnesses. Please see Teacher misconduct: information for witnesses for more detailed information.
In certain circumstances, where the teacher agrees the facts of the case, the case may be considered without a hearing.
The panel will consider all the evidence and decide whether there has been:
- unacceptable professional conduct
- conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute
- a conviction, at any time, of a relevant criminal offence
If the panel decides that there has been any of the above, it will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State. A senior NCTL official will decide on behalf of the Secretary of State whether a prohibition order is appropriate.
We will notify the teacher before the full written decision is published on this website. If a prohibition order is imposed, the individual’s name will appear on the prohibited list.
A list of hearing outcomes is available.
Employer access is a free service available for schools, local authorities and teacher supply agencies in England.
The service enables employers and potential employers to view the record of any teacher with qualified teacher status (QTS) (with the exception of teachers who have achieved QTS through holding qualified teacher learning and skills (QTLS)) or any teacher with an active restriction (including any teacher with QTLS to whom this applies).
A prohibition order applies for life. It means that the person can’t undertake teaching work in any school, sixth form college, children’s home or youth accommodation in England.
The primary purpose of a prohibition order is to:
- protect pupils
- maintain public confidence in the teaching profession
- uphold proper standards of conduct
Where an individual is prohibited, their details will appear on the prohibited list.
In exceptional cases, we may decide that an allegation is so serious that the teacher should not teach while the case is being investigated and concluded. We may then impose an interim prohibition order.
A teacher may appeal against a prohibition order within 28 days of the date a notice was served. They need to apply to the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court under Part 52 of the Civil Procedure Rules.
A lawyer is not required to lodge an appeal, although it may be beneficial to speak to a legal professional. Appeals cannot be made to NCTL, the Department for Education or the Secretary of State. However, the person appealing should serve a copy of the appeal notice, together with copies of any other documents they have filed in the High Court, on the Secretary of State within the period specified by the court.
Applications to set aside a prohibition order following a review period
When the Secretary of State decides that a prohibition order is appropriate, the prohibition applies for life.
However, under some circumstances and after a minimum of 2 years, the Secretary of State may allow a teacher to apply for the prohibition order to be removed. This would only be possible following a recommendation by a professional conduct panel.
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Published: 28 March 2014
Updated: 27 July 2016
- Additional information added under 'Professional conduct panels' regarding former teacher panellists.
- Added a link to the legislation amending the 2012 Regulations. Added more information on appeals.
- First published.