1. Any determination by the Department of Education of a student’s fitness to teach as a result of a student’s alleged conduct or behaviour must take place strictly in accordance with the procedures set out below. Where, after appropriate consultation, it appears that the student’s alleged conduct or behaviour may be the result of, or the student is otherwise suffering from, ill health, the procedure set out below must be followed.
2. If at any stage of the proceedings set out below it should become apparent that the student’s alleged problems may be caused by ill health, the fitness to teach procedures shall be stopped and the procedures set out in Part B of Statute XIII shall be invoked.
3. A member of staff or a student of the Department, or a member of the staff of the school where the PGCE student is placed, who has concerns that a student enrolled on the PGCE is suffering from ill health, conducts him or herself in such a way as to raise concerns about, or demonstrates any traits or indicators which may affect, his or her fitness to teach is under a duty to report this to the PGCE Course Director. These concerns should be put in writing and signed. Anonymous representations will not normally be considered.
4. If it appears to the PGCE Course Director that the matter is one solely of conduct or behaviour, as opposed to ill health, the PGCE Course Director will consider whether the matter can be dealt with informally within the Department. If it cannot and, after appropriate consultation (if necessary with the school of placement concerned), the PGCE Course Director considers there to be a case against the student, that, as a result of his or her conduct or behaviour, the student may have committed an offence or offences under the University Statutes, the PGCE Course Director will notify the Proctors of this in writing. If such matters come to the attention of the Proctors independently the Proctors will inform the PGCE Course Director.
5. When such a referral is made, the PGCE Course Director will also notify the Proctors that the outcome of any investigation and/or disciplinary proceedings may have an impact on the student’s fitness to teach, and that accordingly, the PGCE Course Director must be notified of the outcome.
6. If the Proctors decide to investigate the matter as a disciplinary matter under Statute XI, the Department cannot make its determination of the student’s fitness to teach before the outcome of disciplinary proceedings, including any appeals proceedings. A determination made under Statute XI will not amount to a judgement of a student’s fitness to teach. This is a decision to be made by the Director of the Department of Education, in the light of any disciplinary determination made.
7. Before the commencement of any investigation into the conduct of a PGCE student, whether by the Proctors under the University disciplinary procedures, or by the Department under the procedures set out below, it will be for the Director of the Department of Education to determine the status of the student during the investigation.
8. In such cases, it will be for the Director of the Department of Education to decide whether the student may:
(1) continue on the PGCE course without limitation;
(2) continue on the PGCE but with specified limitations and conditions;
(3) be suspended from the register of PGCE students.
9. The student will be informed of the decision as regards his or her status when he or she is notified of the commencement of the investigation. The Director of the Department of Education may review the status of the student at any stage of the investigation.
10. The student may appeal to the Proctors against a decision by the Director of the Department of Education to suspend him or her from the PGCE. The student will remain suspended pending the outcome of such an appeal.
11. Where the Proctors decide not to carry out an investigation into the student’s conduct under the University’s disciplinary proceedings, an investigation will be carried out by the Department. The PGCE Course Director will inform the student in writing of the commencement of the investigation, the grounds of the investigation, and of the student’s status during it. The student’s college will also be informed.
12. The PGCE Course Director will refer the case to a suitably trained senior member of the Department, who has had no previous involvement with the individual concerned, to investigate the matter and to produce a report. The student, and any other persons who have relevant knowledge of the events and/or circumstances surrounding the matter, will be invited to attend an interview. The investigator will be accompanied by another senior member of the department, and the student, or other person being interviewed, is entitled to be accompanied by another member of the University. Notes of any interview will be taken and the interviewee will be entitled to receive a typed copy of these notes.
13. The investigation will be undertaken expeditiously, and in a manner that is fair and proportionate to the issues in question. In any event, the Department will endeavour to complete the investigation and notify the student of the outcome within twenty-eight days of its notifying the student of the investigation.
14. When the investigation is completed, the investigator will produce a written report of his or her findings to the PGCE Course Director. If, in the opinion of the PGCE Course Director the findings of the report require further consideration, a committee will be appointed as set out below. If not, the student will be notified by the PGCE Course Director that the matter is at an end.
15. The Director of the Department of Education will appoint a committee of three to consider the investigator’s report and to adjudicate the case. The committee shall include one member who is a Principal or Headteacher representing the partnership schools. No member of the committee shall have had any involvement or interest in the case, or be a current or former teacher of the student. The Director shall nominate one member of the committee to act as its chair.
16. The student will be required to attend the meeting of the committee in person and will be given not less than four working days’ notice of the date and time of the meeting. If the student fails to attend the meeting without a reasonable explanation, which is to be determined at the discretion of the Chair, the committee will consider the case in the student’s absence. The student is entitled to be accompanied by a friend, relative, student representative or, where suspension or termination of the student’s PGCE studies is being considered, by a lawyer (‘the friend’). The committee is entitled to call upon other appropriate persons to give evidence. The meeting will be held in public unless the student wishes it to be held in private or the Chair considers that this is in the best interests of the student. All evidence or material submitted as part of the investigation will be regarded as strictly confidential, unless, following consideration of submissions, the committee decides otherwise.
17. The following points shall serve as a guide to the conduct of the meeting. They may be varied at the discretion of the Chair if he or she considers that, as a result, the matter will be dealt with more effectively.
(1) Not less than four days prior to the meeting, the Committee Secretary shall ensure that the student has copies of all documents circulated to members of the committee, and is aware of the proceedings to be followed.
(2) The Chair will introduce by name and explain the function of the members of the committee and any others present. The Chair will explain the powers of the committee and invite the Director (or his or her nominee) to make an opening statement, who may then be asked questions. Other members of staff of the Department attending will be invited to make a statement and may also be asked questions. The student will then be asked to make a statement, and the members of the committee may then ask questions. At each stage the Chair has discretion to allow reciprocal questioning by the various parties.
(3) Once the Chair is satisfied that the committee has completed its questioning, and both the student and the Department have had a full opportunity to present the information to the committee, the parties will withdraw whilst the committee considers the case. Should the committee require further clarification of any point, all the parties will be recalled whilst further questioning takes place.
(4) The Chair shall have discretion to adjourn the proceedings.
18. Following the consideration of the case, the committee shall produce a written report. It may make one of the following recommendations to the Director of the Department of Education:
(1) that the student be permitted to continue with the PGCE course;
(2) that the student be suspended for a specified time with or without conditions attached;
(3) that the student and/or the Department be required to undertake other reasonable action considered appropriate by the committee to enable the student’s successful completion of the PGCE;
(4) that the student be removed from the Register of PGCE students.
19. The decision of the Director of the Department of Education, based upon the recommendation of the committee, together with any findings of fact, will be communicated by the Director of the Department to the student and to the other parties, including the student’s college and the PGCE Course Director as soon as possible. The outcome of the hearing will be published, but the reasons for it will be regarded as confidential between the University, the student and any relevant regulatory bodies.
20. If an internal university disciplinary procedure has resulted in a PGCE student’s conviction of a breach of university regulations or a penalty in the light of a criminal conviction, the Proctors will provide the Director of the Department of Education with relevant information so that a procedure equivalent to that under regulations 11-17 can be followed if appropriate.
21. The student has a right to submit an appeal against a decision made by the Director of the Department of Education under regulations 1-19 to the Appeal Court. During the consideration of any such appeal, the student shall remain suspended.