Teachers Defence Service

Teacher Misconduct

Legal Guidance for Teachers

What is Teacher Misconduct?

About Us

Teachers Defence Service represent teachers and lecturers in regulatory matters concerning the teaching regulators of the four countries of the UK. Note that the four countries of the UK use slightly different terminology and different regulatory processes. We therefore discuss professional conduct matters in a general sense, within this article.

Misconduct as a Teacher

Teaching misconduct is committed when a teacher does something that is contrary to the codes of practice, regulations, or the criminal law. Misconduct does not generally have one definition and the word ‘misconduct’ itself does not always correctly define the standard by which teachers behaviour is assessed.

Some lay people and teachers say that you know ‘misconduct’ when you see it. Others hold that ‘misconduct’ is to fall seriously below the standards of behaviour expected from a professional.

The UK regulators each use various phrases to explain its essence. And, in one High Court judgment (AD v GTCS 2019) the word ‘misconduct’ was disapproved of, because it did not capture correctly the test of ‘conduct’ that was caught within the meaning of governing statute.

When one reads the outcomes of cases that have gone to hearings, we can discern that there are some common failings on the part of teachers that lead to findings of misconduct and which in turn lead to regulatory censure or the imposition of a prohibition from teaching order (or removal from the teaching register, depending on the regulations of the country the teacher is governed by).

Classes of Misconduct

Misconduct cases processed by the separate regulators of the four countries of the UK could be catergorsied as follows:

  • Drinking alcohol with students
  • Sexually inappropriate conduct towards students
  • Failing to maintain proper boundaries (hugging, inappropriate relationships, personal correspondence outwith normal protocols, other non-sexually motivated unusual or sinister conduct that risks harming students or others)
  • Dishonesty
    • Falsifying Qualifications
    • Fraud – Misappropriation of Monies
    • Sending false corrrespondence or masquerading as others in correspondence
  • Misleading and unethical behaviour
  • Undeclared Conflicts of Interest
    • Head failing to inform school governors of a personal relationship with a convicted paedophile
    • Awarding a friend, relative or organisation a contract without open and fair competition, and without disclosing personal connections
    • Failing for disclose a relationship with a governor or teaching colleague, where a policy or the circumstances require diclosure and transparency
  • Other conduct that fails to live up to teaching standards or ethics of the role, or which fails to put safeguarding before the personal or other interests of the teacher

‘Students’ can mean children and young people. The above misconduct list is not exhaustive.

For more information on the way that regulators approach the issue of misconduct, see our page on teaching Regulatory Procedures

Our Services

Teachers Defence Service can provide advice and guidance to teachers on matters relating to teacher misconduct. We also provide advocacy services (including representation at hearings), to assist teacherss in dealing with their teaching regulator. Our fees are competitive. Give us a call on 020 3012 0402 without obligation and in strict confidence to see how we can assist you. Or use our Contact Form.

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