Effective Representation Of Teachers Before The Professional Conduct Panel Of The Teaching Regulation Agency


30 September 2019

By Elizabeth Bradshaw

Effective representation of Teachers before the professional conduct panel of the Teaching Regulation Agency.

There have been a number of panel outcomes in respect of teacher misconduct from last month that serve to illustrate important factors when determining sanctions.

The professional conduct panel of the Teaching Regulation Agency is the body that considers matters of teacher misconduct and, effectively, regulates the teaching profession.

Decisions from the panel from last month have included:-

– a teacher prohibited from teaching indefinitely without any entitlement to apply for      restoration of eligibility following the receipt of a police caution for distributing an indecent image of a child

– a teacher similarly prohibited indefinitely without entitlement to apply for restoration following his inappropriate and sexual behaviour towards a former pupil who he knew to be vulnerable

– a teacher prohibited from teaching but with eligibility for that to be set aside after two years for engaging in inappropriate and/or unprofessional behaviour by consuming alcohol whilst setting up for a Year 11 Prom

– a teacher similarly prohibited but with the eligibility to apply to set aside after two years for attending school under the influence of alcohol and teaching in an inappropriate manner

– a teacher who admitted making inappropriate physical contact with pupils and making inappropriate comments being informed that the publication of the adverse findings of the panel would be sufficient to send an appropriate message as to the standard of behaviour that was not acceptable. The panel declined to recommend a prohibition order.

This raft of recently published decisions from the professional conduct panel helps to confirm some important factors in effective representation before such panels in respect of the teaching profession – although these could be extended to most other professions.

Where matters are admitted the panel will determine whether this amounts to unacceptable professional conduct and/or may bring the profession into disrepute and will then consider a myriad of factors when deciding whether to impose any sanction and if so of what severity.

As a guide, consider the ten following positive factors when attempting to influence a potential sanction:-

               1. Evidence of insight

               2. Evidence of remorse

               3. Engagement with the regulatory process

               4. Clearly accepting responsibility for one's actions

               5. Attendance on relevant training courses, both online and in person

               6. Completion of articles, policies and reflective pieces that demonstrate insight

               7. The provision of testimonials from parties who are aware of the allegations

               8. The provision of appraisals from any current employer who also has such knowledge

               9. Timely admissions to matters raised

               10. Self-reporting of incidents.

The panel will need to be persuaded that any misconduct is easily remediable, that it has been remedied and that it is highly unlikely to be repeated. The factors (1 -10) referred to above will help to demonstrate these issues leading to the best possible outcome.

Conversely, professionals should be acutely aware of the need not to minimise their behaviour or to blame external personal factors which may lead a panel to have grave concerns about the likely repetition of misconduct.

Of the five recent panel decisions referred to above it is, perhaps, unsurprising that the least sanction imposed was on the last of the individuals who was able to demonstrate far better than the others steps taken by him that  evidenced genuine insight and remorse.