An irrational anomaly in the publication of decisions by the Teaching Regulation Agency has finally been removed. From today the TRA state they have removed all decisions of misconduct where there was no prohibition order made and which are over two years old. They have also agreed to publish such decisions for only two years in future. This is a major victory for common sense which was brought to a head by a recent case of ours backed by the National Association of Head Teachers.
For many years we have successfully persuaded panels that the publishing of findings of misconduct is in itself an onerous sanction because, unlike the Welsh and Scottish regulators who publish a short summary for a few months, the TRA publish a detailed decision running to many pages and which is often picked up by local or national press. This causes reputational damage to the teacher and inevitably affects their employability generally, even outside of education. Indeed this publication policy is often the main worry for our teachers. Given this practice, the professional conduct panel are often persuaded it is not necessary (the law uses the term proportionate) for them to recommend the further sanction of a prohibition.
From the start of the current regulatory regime in 2012 the Department for Education has also published all findings of misconduct indefinitely. The reason that was irrational is that in the more serious cases where there is also a prohibtion for a finite period (the minimum is two years) the teacher can the apply to rejoin the profession after that period and if successful the misconduct decision is removed. But teachers with less serious misconduct and no prohibition could not so apply and their decisions remained published indefinitely. That was clearly unjustifiable, and we and the teaching unions had said so for years.
In October 2023 we formally raised this anomaly as part of a legal challenge in the case of an NAHT member. The TRA’s lawyers quickly conceded the point and agreed that the decision would be published for only two years. And now they have applied that to all decisions and all teachers. We really do welcome that move – but wonder why it could not have been done much earlier and without the need to threaten legal action.