October 2018

The know zone

  • Data unbound
    ASCL's latest project is helping schools to extract deeper meaning from their data and do it in a much more timely fashion, says Duncan Baldwin. More
  • Focus on curriculum
    With so many schools having to find increasingly innovative ways of stretching their budgets, Julia Harnden says the key to their ability to manage their money well is by keeping the curriculum at the heart of their financial planning. More
  • Hand in hand
    Suzanne O'Farrell highlights some key pointers to ensure your curriculum and assessment are properly aligned. More
  • What lies beyond?
    Kevin Gilmartin explores the findings of a major House of Lords report on Treating Students Fairly that looks into the economics of post-school education. More
  • Dear newly qualified teacher...
    What is the one piece of advice you would give to encourage anyone about to embark on their first teaching role? Something to inspire and instil in them the same spark or passion of teaching that you share - here ASCL members share their views. More
  • Leaders' surgery
    Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting. More
  • Superheroes*
    It's time to make job adverts for headship more realistic, down-to-earth and honest - to ensure that the candidates are, too, says Carl Smith. More
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Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting.

Leaders' surgery

Malicious claims

Q: I am a deputy headteacher and I have been accused of a crime outside of school. The Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) and the police are involved, as the allegation concerns a child. It is a malicious allegation and I am quite sure that my name will be cleared. I am the designated safeguarding lead (DSL) at school and I am concerned that if I tell my head about this, they may feel that, in the circumstances, it would be better if that responsibility was taken away from me temporarily. I am concerned about the effect this may have on my reputation and I am also concerned about any effects this whole episode could have on my future employment.

A: It is very important that when a member is accused of wrong doing, they should immediately inform their headteacher. Failure to do so may amount to a breach of contract (either express and/or implied) and could lead to disciplinary action, and possible termination of employment. In any event, the likelihood of the school finding out is high as the LADO would almost certainly be in touch.

Given the seniority of the role, in conjunction with safeguarding responsibilities, it is possible that the deputy head will be immediately stripped of his or her safeguarding responsibilities and may also be suspended in the first instance, while the police complete their investigations.

If, after investigating, the police decide to take no further action, it is still possible for the school to carry out its own internal disciplinary investigation as under the Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) statutory guidance, the school is duty bound to discharge its own safeguarding responsibilities. Furthermore, the evidential thresholds vary between criminal and employment/civil jurisdictions. It may be that the LADO recommends an internal investigation. The criminal investigation (where there is no further action) should not appear on a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (although members are advised to seek confirmation of this from the police and challenge if information does appear).

If an internal investigation is not deemed necessary, or an internal investigation concludes that no further internal action is necessary, theoretically, that should be the end of the matter with suspension being lifted and disciplinary proceedings being brought to an end. The deputy head should be able to resume the role of DSL. Furthermore, subject to the question being asked, there would be no reason to disclose this on any future job application.

Members in circumstances similar to those outlined here, are urged to contact the ASCL Hotline as soon as possible. There is a possibility that the police matter (while outside of school) may potentially impact a memberís employment and could also potentially lead to referrals to the Disclosure Barring Service and/or the Teaching Regulation Agency.

Guidance over alleged misconduct

Q: I am a deputy head and I have received a letter from the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education. The letter explains that I have been referred to the TRA due to alleged misconduct and a law firm is investigating. I have not been told what the alleged misconduct in question is. Can you please provide some guidance?

A: The TRA is an executive agency of the DfE that regulates the teaching profession on behalf of the Secretary of State, who has the power to prohibit teachers. The TRA decides the appropriate action following receipt of allegations of teacher misconduct, which may be referred to them by employers (current or former), external agencies or members of the public.

Where the TRA determines that allegations may result in a prohibition, a law firm is appointed to investigate. The teacher will receive detailed allegations and will be invited to respond, usually within four weeks. After the teacher has been given the opportunity to respond, the TRA will convene a determination meeting to decide whether the case can be concluded without further action or if a public hearing is necessary.

Members are urged to contact the ASCL Hotline immediately if they are referred. ASCLís experienced lawyers advise and represent members in professional disciplinary proceedings before their regulator.

Contact the Hotline

ASCL members concerned about leadership issues should call the Hotline on 0116 299 1122 or email hotline@ascl.org.uk

Rachel Bertenshaw is ASCL Hotline Leader