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Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) Lawyers

What is the Teaching Regulation Agency and what does it do?

The Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) is an executive agency of the Department for Education. As well as being the body tasked with acting on allegations of serious teacher misconduct, the TRA also provides support to employers, schools and head teachers in relation to their safeguarding responsibilities. Their role as the competent authority for teaching in England, means that the TRA is also responsible for awarding qualified teacher status to appropriately qualified teachers from outside England.

The TRA maintains a record of all teachers and trainee teachers in England which means that they are also able to provide employers with access to teacher records in order to complete pre-recruitment checks, which ensures that those who have been prohibited from teaching or subject to a sanction from the Secretary of State are identified.

Arguably the most important function of the TRA is the operation of the regulatory system for all teacher misconduct. This means that the TRA has the responsibility for:

  • investigating all cases of misconduct and deciding which cases are serious enough to result in prohibition and therefore ought to be referred to a hearing
  • deciding whether an interim prohibition order should be imposed during the course of an investigation, thereby preventing a teacher from working whilst an investigation is carried out
  • administering the hearing process and procedures
  • considering the recommendations of the professional conduct panel and deciding, on behalf of the Secretary of State, whether a prohibition notice is appropriate and if so whether or not a teacher may apply for a review of the order

How can Olliers assist with a TRA case?

The regulatory team at Olliers are committed to helping professionals defend their careers and reputation. Our experienced lawyers are on hand to provide legal advice and assistance to teachers and trainees facing investigation and/or proceedings brought by the TRA.

We are also able to assist with any associated criminal investigations or proceedings and our holistic approach ensures that those we represent have a seamless experience throughout the process.

Why choose Olliers for TRA cases?

Our lawyers provide tailored, expert representation for teachers throughout the course of their dealings with the TRA, advising at all stages of the process, from initial referral to submissions on the imposition of an interim prohibition order through to representation before the professional conduct panel, where necessary.

As fellow professionals, we understand the anxiety that such matters can cause. We also appreciate the potentially far–reaching consequences for your career, your professional and personal reputation, the financial impact of being prevented from working and not forgetting, or indeed under-estimating, the impact on your family life.

We work closely with our clients and pride ourselves on a pro-active approach which will generally include collating all relevant material, preparing submissions and making appropriate representations, as necessary, to protect your role as a teacher. We will also instruct relevant experts when needed and have close working relationships with a number of highly experienced and dedicated defence barristers to ensure you have the best representation at every stage of the process.

The team at Olliers is recognised for our meticulous preparation, sound advice and excellent results for those we represent. Therefore, if you are subject to TRA proceedings or find yourself under investigation by them or any other regulatory body, please get in touch as soon as possible and allow us to help you navigate the process.

What types of TRA cases can Olliers assist with?

It is important to note that only cases involving allegations of serious misconduct should be referred to the TRA; minor issues including those around competency should be resolved locally.

Olliers have experience in dealing with the full spectrum of cases involving allegations of serious misconduct including:

What can I expect following a referral to the TRA?

Like most regulators, the TRA will receive a large number of referrals each year; these may come from employers, the public, the police, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) or any other regulatory body or organisation who feel it appropriate to make such a referral. The fact that a referral is made, however, does not mean that every case will result in a hearing before the professional conduct panel, indeed some will not even result in an investigation.

Having received a referral, the first thing that the TRA will do is conduct an initial assessment to determine whether the matter ought to be investigated. This will involve checking that the referral relates to a person who is or was employed or engaged to undertake teaching work in England and that the alleged conduct is capable of amounting to unacceptable professional conduct, conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute or relates to a relevant conviction and a prohibition order may therefore be appropriate.

The decision as to whether or not to conduct an investigation will ordinarily be taken within 3 days of receipt of a referral. If the answer to either of the questions above is negative, then there will be no investigation.

If, however, the decision is taken to conduct an investigation, you will receive a letter notifying you of the allegation(s) and inviting you to respond, usually within 28 days. You are not obliged to provide any submissions or evidence at this stage but it is prudent to seek legal advice as well-crafted submissions may result in matters being concluded without any onward referral.

If the allegations involve safeguarding concerns, the TRA will also forward all relevant information to the DBS who will carry out their own investigation. Olliers have a dedicated DBS department who can assist you with such issues.

Interim Prohibition Orders

It is important to note that in cases deemed to involve particularly serious misconduct, for example sexual offences or sexually motivated conduct, the TRA will consider whether to make an Interim Prohibition Order (IPO), the effect of which is to prevent a teacher working pending the outcome of the investigation.

An IPO can be made at any time once a referral has been made and they are made without the need for a formal hearing and although you may be entitled to ask for a review within six months and at six monthly intervals, there is no right of appeal once an order has been made.

An IPO will be made if it appears that there is reliable evidence that the allegations are well founded and it is either necessary for the protection of children, parents or other school staff or it is in the public interest for some other reason to impose the order.

If the TRA is considering imposing an IPO, you will be informed in writing and given 10 working days to respond. Given the consequences of an IPO and the fact that there is no right of appeal against its imposition, it is important that you seek legal advice and assistance as soon as possible so that effective submissions can be made on your behalf.

The Investigation

For those case which do result in an investigation, TRA will very often instruct an external law firm to carry out the investigation on its behalf. As part of the investigation stage, the TRA may make enquiries and/or request information or documentation from other relevant parties.

As soon as reasonably practicable, the TRA will send you a letter in which it will set out the allegation(s) and provide copies of any documents considered relevant to the allegation(s). In some cases, there may be material which it is not appropriate or possible to disclose, such as indecent images or computer hard drives. In those circumstances, the TRA will provide a description of the material along with an explanation as to why it is not being provided, and where relevant, any arrangements which may be made for it to be inspected.

You will be invited to provide any evidence or written submissions that you want the TRA to consider. This should normally be provided within 28 days and we strongly recommend that you seek legal advice and assistance from an experienced regulatory solicitor before sending any information to the TRA.

Once in possession of all relevant material, including the teacher’s evidence and submissions, the TRA will review the same and decide if there is a case to answer. If there is a case to answer, the matter will be referred to a professional conduct panel. You will be notified of the decision by way of a “case to answer” letter, usually within five days of the decision being made.

The case to answer letter will set out the particulars of the allegations. You will be asked to provide a written response within 14 days, confirming whether the facts are admitted and, if so, whether you accept that they amount to unacceptable professional conduct, a conviction for a relevant offence or conduct which may bring the profession into disrepute.

If you agree the facts and accept that they amount to unacceptable professional conduct or any of the other headings, you can ask for the case to be considered without the need for a hearing. A case will proceed to a professional conduct panel hearing if you do not respond to the case to answer letter or if you respond but do not admit all matters or do not agree a statement of facts with the TRA.

Professional Conduct Panel

The Professional Conduct Panel (PCP) will hear the most serious cases of alleged teacher misconduct and it is they who can ultimately recommend whether a teacher should be made subject to a prohibition order.

The PCP will be made up of three members including at least one teacher or individual who was a teacher in the five years immediately prior to their appointment. Lay members will generally be people who have experience in dealing with complex and sensitive investigations although not necessarily in the education sector.

The TRA will appoint a legal adviser to the panel. Amongst other things, their role will be to advise on questions of law, matters of policy, practice and procedure and also to remind the panel of the evidence given in the case, as well as, helping them to formulate and record the reasons for their decisions. They do not take part in the decision making process.

What is the procedure before a PCP?

Much like proceedings before other professional regulators, the final hearing will begin with the Chair introducing themselves and their fellow panel members; they will also ask the teacher to confirm their identity. They will then wish to deal with any preliminary matters including legal arguments.

The Chair will then put the allegations to the teacher and ask whether or not any of the facts are admitted and, if so, whether it is also accepted that they amount to unacceptable professional conduct, a conviction for a relevant offence or conduct that may bring the teaching profession into disrepute, as relevant.

If the facts are admitted, the Chair will want to know if the parties have agreed a statement of facts and if so this will be read out by the presenting officer on behalf of the TRA. Both parties will be invited to call evidence and make representations as to whether the admitted facts amount to unacceptable professional conduct, a relevant conviction or conduct which may bring the reputation into disrepute. The panel will retire to consider their decision.

Where material facts remain in dispute, the Chair will invite the TRA presenting officer to make an opening statement which the teacher/ their representative will be allowed to respond to. Both parties will then be permitted to present evidence on the alleged facts and whether or not they amount to unacceptable professional conduct, conduct which may call the profession into disrepute or a conviction for a relevant offence.

Parties will be allowed to make closing submissions before the panel retire to deliberate and reach their decision.

How will the PCP make its decision?

The PCP will consider all of the evidence before them and reach their decision based on the civil standard of proof that being that it was more likely than not that the alleged behaviour took place.

Put simply, the panel must decide whether any of the alleged facts have been proved and, if so, whether those that have, amount to unacceptable professional conduct, a conviction for a relevant offence or conduct capable of bringing the profession into disrepute.

If the PCP finds the teacher guilty of unacceptable professional conduct or any of the other two headings, they will ask the TRA presenting officer to produce any evidence relevant to their consideration as to whether or not a prohibition order may be appropriate. They will also hear any mitigation that may be presented on behalf of the teacher.

The PCP will then retire to decide whether or not to recommend the imposition of a prohibition order to the Secretary of State. Their decision will take account of the need to protect children, parents and other staff, as well as, wider public interest considerations and the need to maintain the highest standards of professional conduct in the education sector.

If the panel do decide to recommend a prohibition order, they must also consider whether to recommend that the teacher be allowed to apply to have the order set aside, and if so, the minimum time that must pass before they do so.

On receipt of the PCP recommendations, the Secretary of State will usually decide within three working days whether or not to impose the order. A teacher will be notified of the decision, normally within two working days, as will the teachers. A teacher may appeal a prohibition order to the High Court, within 28 days.


Olliers are able to assist you on either an hourly rate basis or we can be instructed on an ‘agreed fee’ in order to provide peace of mind that costs will not escalate beyond what is agreed. We are happy to provide a tailored quote for your individual case.

We also have experience dealing with many of the leading insurance providers and are happy to discuss your needs with them to ensure that you get the best representation from your legal partner of choice.

Should you require assistance with any matter brought by the TRA or indeed any associated criminal investigations, please contact our specialist professional disciplinary team to discuss how Olliers can assist.

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