Beware: Prohibition orders and settlement agreements

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The Secretary of State regulates teachers’ professional misconduct through the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL).  NCTL maintains a list of teachers who have been prohibited from teaching by reason of serious professional misconduct.  Capability issues are distinct, and dealt with by schools locally.

What are prohibition orders?

A prohibition order prevents unsupervised teaching. This is a lifetime ban, although in certain circumstances the teacher can apply for review of the order, after a specified period. The Secretary of State also has power to issue an interim prohibition order preventing a person from teaching until their case has been fully considered and concluded, if this is in the public interest.

When are they made?

It is worth noting that a prohibition order is likely to be made where the behaviour of the individual is considered to have been “fundamentally incompatible” with being a teacher.  This includes:

  1. unacceptable professional conduct;
  2. conduct that may bring the teaching profession into disrepute; and
  3. conviction of a relevant offence (including allegations of violence/ sexual activity/ serious drugs, alcohol or driving offences/ theft/ racial hatred/ and any activity involving the creation of possession of indecent images of a child).

What do schools need to do?

Irrespective of a school’s potential obligations to consult with the Local Authority Designated Officer, in such circumstances where there are allegations of serious misconduct against a teacher, the school has a statutory duty to consider whether a referral should be made to the NCTL.  The duty applies even where an individual resigns before dismissal. Equally, it would apply where a teacher and school part ways under a settlement agreement (formerly compromise agreement). Schools should therefore take care when drafting settlement agreements to place no restriction on their ability to report allegations of serious misconduct to the NCTL.

For more information, help or advice please contact Amy Sergison on 0191 211 7995.