An accusation of gross misconduct can spell the end of a career in teaching, but of course there are many cases when such an accusation is unjust or even completely baseless.
If you have been accused of gross misconduct and dismissed as a result, your matter will be referred to the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL), a Department for Education agency that exists to improve the quality of the workforce throughout the education system.
Referrals to the NCTL may be made by parents or schools or the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS), and often follow on from a school’s own disciplinary proceedings.
What are your rights?
As a teacher formally accused of gross misconduct, you have the opportunity to officially contest the allegations made against you internally in the first instance. Once the matter reaches the NCTL, the process is much longer and can be complicated.
In some instances teachers can receive an Interim Prohibition Order (IPO), which means they cannot teach whilst the case is being determined by the NCTL. When a decision is made to issue an IPO, the teacher and school are informed and the teacher’s name is added to the list of prohibited teachers. The teacher has the opportunity to challenge the IPO within 28 days of issue.
If the matter is referred to the NCTL and there is a case to answer, the NCTL will then investigate the case, considering all relevant evidence. Accused teachers will be kept informed of all evidence that may be used against them and invited to submit evidence in support of their case.
Facing a professional misconduct panel
The case may then be referred to a professional conduct panel. After being informed of this decision, the teacher has 14 days to provide a written response to the NCTL. If in that response a teacher does not accept the charges levelled against them, the case will then be considered at a hearing. At that hearing, it is up to the teacher to persuade the professional conduct panel that the allegations against them are ill-founded.
Meticulous case preparation and timely action are absolutely key to success in these cases and at Match Solicitors, we are proud of our record of successfully representing unfairly accused teachers.
We have a team of specialist education lawyers who have a great deal of experience acting for teachers who have been wrongly accused. Indeed, we have, on many occasions, successfully persuaded such panels that the case made against the teacher by the NCTL is groundless.
Our vast experience in this area enables us to make certain that your case is prepared professionally and to the highest possible level, ensuring the best chance of defeating the allegations against you and enabling you to get on with your career.
Anita Chopra is a director at education law specialists Match Solicitors and is a regular media commentator on legal issues arising in education. She has a “huge breadth of experience across all kinds of education” and “has a great instinct for cases.”
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