The Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) are an agency within the Department of Education and are responsible for the following:
- Maintaining a record of teachers and trainee teachers in England
- Issuing teacher training numbers to all teachers in England
- Awarding Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) to teachers who complete teacher training in England
- Acting on behalf of the Secretary of State as the competent authority for teaching in England including awarding QTS to teachers from other countries
- Holding details of teachers who have been prohibited from teaching or those that hold a sanction from the Secretary of State
- Operating the regulatory system for all teacher misconduct
As the regulatory body for all teachers and trainee teachers in England, the TRA are responsible for investigating all cases of misconduct and decide whether cases are serious enough to refer to a Professional Conduct Panel to determine whether a prohibition order is proportionate; quite simply whether to ban a teacher from teaching. The TRA would further consider whether interim prohibition orders should be imposed during the course of an investigation; in layman’s terms to ban a teacher from working whilst they are under investigation.
Examples of misconduct could be a criminal conviction or caution, safeguarding affecting the well-being or education of a child, abuse of position of trust, inappropriate contact with a child, historical sexual allegations, fraud for financial gain, failing to act or failing in duty of care of a child, dishonesty or lack of integrity or indeed anything which brings the reputation of the profession into disrepute.
Cases such as general incompetence will be referred to the local authority.
Prohibition Orders and Interim Prohibition Orders:
A Prohibition Order prevents an individual from teaching in schools or other settings and they will be added to the Prohibited List. The purpose of the prohibition order is to safeguard children and to uphold confidence and maintain standards in the teaching as a profession. A prohibition order may be for a set period of time or it may be indefinite but will be for no less than two years.
An Interim Prohibition Order (IPO) can be made at any time during an investigation if it is considered there is a risk to harm of children or members of the public. This would prevent an individual from teaching until the conclusion of their case. Teachers can apply to have their IPO’s reviewed within six months of the date of imposition of the order and then again after a period of 6 months has elapsed until the conclusion of the case.
Professional Conduct Panel members and decision making criteria
Teacher Panellist members are made up of current or ex-teachers. Lay Panellist members are people who have experience in dealing with complex and sensitive investigations, not necessarily in the education sector.
Three panel members will consider the evidence presented, determine whether the allegations are proven on the balance of probabilities and decide whether this constitutes unacceptable professional conduct or conduct that brings the profession into disrepute.
- Has the case been proven?
The ‘balance of probabilities’ is the standard of proof used in civil law cases and is not the same as criminal law cases where a jury must be satisfied ‘so that they are sure of the defendant’s guilt’. The panel will decide whether, on the facts presented, the allegations more likely happened than not. Criminal convictions will be considered as proof, cautions will be given significant weight and any other evidence such as disciplinary hearings/tribunals can be used. Expert panellists may also be called to give opinions. Hearsay evidence, that being a statement given by a third party, will be considered only if relevant and fair and sufficiently scrutinised for reliability.
Panel members also deal with appeals against prohibition orders and prohibition order reviews.
- Has there been unacceptable professional conduct or conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute?
Unacceptable professional conduct is behaviour that falls short of that expected. This can include behaviour outside of the education setting such behaviour which leads to children being influenced or exposed to harmful behaviour.
Conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute is behaviour that could damage the public’s perception of a teacher, thereby bringing the profession into disrepute. Panel members would take into account the safeguarding and welfare of children and the influential role that teachers have on pupils in loco parentis (in place of a parent).
- Is a Prohibition Order appropriate?
If points 1 and 2 above are proven, the Panel will consider whether it is in the public interest to impose a Prohibition Order to safeguard pupils and to maintain and uphold standards of conduct within the profession.
Depending on the allegations, the police and other regulatory bodies may become involved, such as the Disclosure and Barring Service who are the regulatory body for safeguarding.
Olliers Solicitors – specialist criminal defence lawyers
Should you have been referred to the TRA we would always recommend seeking legal assistance as early as possible. We will advise on how best to proceed with your case, prepare representations to the TRA to mitigate on your behalf and represent you at any subsequent hearing. We can also represent you at the police station or court should you have related criminal proceedings.
We understand the stress and anxiety that those subject to TRA proceedings will be going through and are happy to have a confidential initial discussion with you to discuss your options and suggest a clear defence strategy from the outset. Please contact us by telephone on 0161 834 1515, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the form below.