Why teachers are banned

The BBC has published an interesting analysis of the number of teachers barred from the profession over the past few years. You can read Laurence Cawley’s story at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-44643267

Creating such a story has been on the list for future posts on this blog, after I commented in December 2016 about the trends in hearing for misconduct by teachers that year. You can read that blog at https://johnohowson.wordpress.com/2016/12/

As I pointed out in 2016, men outnumber women in terms of those coming before the Teaching Regulation Agency and also in being barred from teaching and work with young people either for a fixed period or for life. Those barred for a fixed period do not automatically regain the right to teach but, as teaching is still not a reserved occupational term, may presumably still call themselves a teacher if they want to do so. Whether they can work in the less regulated markets of teaching language students or tutoring is an interesting question and how they would be found out if they do so is also a potential issue for debate.

The rules on conduct between teachers and pupils are now very strict and what was acceptable when I started in teaching in the 1970s would now in some cases almost certainly be grounds for being barred for life from the profession. The BBC story says sexually motivated, inappropriate conduct is the reason for a third of teaching bans and goes into some details that you can read on their site by following the link above.

London has the lowest rate of barring per 10,000 teachers. This is possibly because there are a higher percentage of young and more recently trained teachers in London and they are aware of the tightening of the rules, especially in relation to conduct between teachers and their pupils.

I believe that the police still have the responsibility to report anyone who states their occupation as a teacher, if they are involved in a criminal act.  Some of the alcohol cases will have come about because of a drink driving charge, sometimes during the Christmas holiday period.

The BBC story doesn’t look into the trends in severity of outcomes in terms of length or bans received. There is a study to be undertaken to ensure that panels are consistent in their general approach even after acknowledging that the facts of each case are unique.

Requiring high standards of those that are teachers is obviously important and I hope that rigorous checks at the application stage prevent some from entering the profession. That’s one reason why I have always believed that interviews of potential applicants to teaching is a critical part of the process: mere study of a form is not good enough.

A number of the cases in the BBC story were historical in nature when dealt with and it is to be hoped that the caseload of the Agency will fall as more teachers recognise the requirement laid upon them and the standards they need to uphold. However, if an MP can only be banned for 30 days for a failure to declare two holidays, we need to ensure that teachers are not being punished more severely for their transgressions than our lawmakers.

 

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Welcome: Teaching Regulation Agency

Welcome to the Teaching Regulation Agency. I mentioned part of its role in my recent post about Induction. Those interested can now read this new Agency’s Corporate Plan at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/696833/teaching-regulation-agency-corporate-plan.pdf I am delighted to see that Alan Meryick has become its first Chief Executive. He has two female deputies, but, perhaps, it was a missed opportunity to have a women at the top of the organisation. Alan’s name will be familiar to anyone that has read the outcomes of teacher misconduct panel decisions, where his name has regularly appeared as the civil servant that acted on behalf of the Secretary of State in exercising the final judgement on the decision – subject of course to either a Judicial review or an appeal to an upper tier court.

We now know, thanks to this Corporate Plan, that the budget for the TRA for 2018-19 is just under £9 million. This money is needed not just to administer not just the misconduct section, but also all the other work of the Agency. This work includes a whole raft of administrative tasks involved in managing the State teaching workforce qualification and registration system. For example, the Teacher Qualification Unit operational delivery will include:

  • the award of QTS and EYTS to approximately 34,000 teachers who complete either a course of ITT or EYITT in England
  • processing approximately 9,000 applications from overseas trained teachers requesting recognition as a qualified teacher in England
  • delivery of up to 75,000 new online certificates to teachers through the teacher self -service portal (TSS)
  • processing more than 380,000 pre-employment checks through the online employer access service
  • recording approximately 32,000 NQT induction passes onto the database of qualified teachers
  • issuing up to 35,000 teacher reference numbers (TRN)
  • answering up to 30,000 telephone and responding to approximately 35,000 email helpdesk enquiries.

The Agency will also deal with around 1,000 referrals of serious misconduct and hold around 150 hearing of misconduct panels that can lead to a teacher being barred for the profession, but not from being able to use the title teacher.

It is interesting to see that the TRA has a vision statement as I thought that they were now somewhat tout of fashion. The TRA vision is:

We will strive to achieve excellence in all that we do, delivering a fair and consistent regulatory system for the teaching profession on behalf of the Secretary of State. We will assess applications for recognition of professional status fairly and efficiently. We will support the teaching profession by ensuring high standards of conduct are maintained, by fair, rigorous and timely teacher misconduct investigations, that where appropriate, prohibit teachers guilty of serious misconduct. We will work to maintain the high quality standards of the profession, allowing every child access to high quality education.

Sadly, nothing there about protecting who can use the title ‘teacher’.

The tasks of this new Agency are vital in securing a workforce for schools, but it cannot do anything about the shortfall of trainee numbers. The DfE is now fully responsible for any shortcomings in that direction.

Finally, the Agency still has work to do to purge the references to NCTL that still litter its information documents about teacher misconduct hearings. The Agency might also wish to consider whether it is appropriate for the panel’s legal adviser to sit alongside panel members at hearings, in case it makes them look as if they are a member of the panel itself. But, maybe their diagram doesn’t reflect the reality of the situation.