The current rules which regulate teacher misconduct haven’t been substantively amended since 2012. That’s set to change. The Schools Bill 2022 is progressing through the House of Lords and will move to the Commons to be debated soon. Once enacted, it will allow the government to make a number of changes, including strengthening the rules around teacher misconduct for schools and applying the same standards to FE colleges and other education providers.
The government launched a consultation, Teacher Misconduct: regulating the teaching profession earlier this year. It proposed to:
- broaden the scope of the teacher misconduct regime to include persons who commit misconduct when not employed as a teacher, but who have previously carried out teaching work in a relevant setting.
- broaden the scope of the teacher misconduct regime to include a wider range of relevant education settings, including post-16 and online providers
- enable the Secretary of State to consider referrals of serious teacher misconduct regardless of how the matter comes to their attention.
This Bill reflects the DfE’S commitment to implement these changes.
Part 5 of the Bill will broaden the regulatory scope of the Secretary of State via the Teaching Regulation Agency to investigate and prohibit individuals from working as teachers in order to safeguard pupils and students and uphold high standards in teacher conduct.
As currently drafted, section 51 of the Bill will amend parts of the Education Act 2002 which apply to teacher misconduct as follows:
- S.51(2) will allow the Teaching Regulation Agency to investigate teachers in a wider range of settings including, further education institutions, online education providers and independent training providers.
- S.51(4) defines an ‘online education provider’ as a company or charity providing education to at least one student in England who is of compulsory school age, under the age of 19, or over that age with an EHC plan specifying that they should be in full-time education. The provider itself must be set up to provide online content to the majority of its pupils.
- S.51(5) allows the Teaching Regulatory Agency to investigate alleged misconduct which may have been uncovered by another body under the umbrella of DfE. This means that internal referrals will be allowed.
- This amendment also allows the Teaching Regulatory Agency to investigate misconduct that has taken place at any time. For these purposes, it doesn’t matter whether the person was employed or engaged to carry out teaching work at the time of the alleged misconduct or conviction. This means that individuals can be banned from teaching even if they are not currently working as a teacher.
- S.51(6) amends section 141(D) of the Education Act 2002 (supply of information following dismissal, resignation etc). It will be widened to include, further education institutions, online education providers and independent training providers. They will be required to make a referral to the Secretary of State where they have dismissed a teacher for serious misconduct or where the teacher resigned before they were/or were likely to have been dismissed for misconduct.
- The Bill also applies to those people who are ‘employed or engaged’ in teaching, so it will include working relationships other than those employed under a contract of employment.
When will these new rules come into force?
The Bill started in the House of Lords and has one more stage to clear before it goes to the House of Commons to be debated. Our best guess is that it’s likely to become law sometime next year.#
By Helen Dyke, Irwin Mitchell