The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

Making a referral about a teacher

Before making a referral it is important that you read our Fitness to Teach Threshold Policy

You can make a referral about a teacher using our online form.

When we receive a referral, we first check that it is something that we can and should investigate. Our Fitness to Teach Threshold Policy explains how we decide this - it is key that the allegation is of a level of seriousness that the teacher presents a risk of harm.

The length of time it takes us to decide whether we will investigate a referral can vary according to the extent and complexity of the information provided, and we typically do so within 14 days.

If we decide to investigate the referral, we plan what investigations should be carried out and take these forward. Our investigation is approached in a neutral way - we are investigating to find out what has happened, not to build a case for, or against, the teacher. Our investigations can involve asking the person who has made the referral to provide information, as well as contacting the teacher's employer or criminal justice agencies (e.g. the police or courts) for information. All information we receive is shared with the teacher concerned and he/she is given an opportunity to respond.

At the end of the investigation process, if we decide that there is sufficient evidence to prove the allegation, a Fitness to Teach Panel considers the case and decides whether to:

  • take no further action because fitness to teach is not impaired
  • issue a consent order
  • refer the case on for a full hearing.

The length of the investigation process depends on the complexity of the allegations and associated information, but investigations are usually concluded within six months.

When a case is referred on for a full hearing, we aim to have the hearing process concluded within six months. This timescale can be affected be case complexity and factors beyond our control.

To access the online Fitness to Teach referral form, please choose the referral category that applies to you from the dropdown menu below and then read and complete the form. Completed referral forms are shared with the teacher concerned.

If you are unsure whether to make a referral, or need help or support in making a referral, we would recommend that you speak to your local Citizens Advice Bureau. As we are responsible for investigating and determining the outcomes in cases, it is important that we remain neutral throughout the process so we cannot provide individual guidance and support of this nature.

Fitness to Teach Outcome Statistics

  Jul 2014 Aug 2014 Sep 2014 Oct 2014 Nov 2014 Dec 2014
Removal Order   1 1 1 1  
Removal with Consent Order       1 1  
Reprimand Order 1          
Reprimand with Consent Order       2 1  
Conditional Registration Order            
Conditional Registration & Reprimand Order   1        
Application Refused            
Application Granted       1    
No Impairment to Fitness to Teach     1   1  
No Order            


To raise a referral

You can raise a referral with us by completing the online referral form.

Please read the information provided on the form and then submit the completed form to the Fitness to Teach department.

Details of any referral will be shared, in full with the teacher against whom the referral is made.

Legal Duty to Refer

Employers have a legal duty to refer a case to GTCS if:

  • a teacher is dismissed on grounds of misconduct or incompetence
  • a teacher resigns or otherwise stops working for the employer in circumstances where, but for leaving that employment, the employer would have or might have dismissed the teacher on grounds of misconduct or incompetence

Discretionary Referrals

Employers can make a referral to us at any time if they are concerned about the conduct of a teacher, even if formal disciplinary action has not yet finished or if the teacher remains in employment but serious concerns remain about his/her fitness to teach. Please consult our Fitness to Teach Threshold Policy for further guidance on the type of cases that we investigate and that it may therefore be appropriate to refer in this way.

When should the case actually be referred?

The legal duty referred to above takes effect as soon as the teacher's employment is terminated. We therefore expect that an employer will make the referral to us almost immediately following the dismissal or resignation. Employers should not wait for any employment appeals process to be concluded before making the referral but, if such a process is ongoing, this should be pointed out as part of the referral.

Where an employer is making a discretionary referral, it is a matter for the employer to decide when to refer. As a matter of best practice, we would anticipate that employers would make a referral at an early stage where the conduct matter involved raises child protection concerns in order that immediate protective steps could be taken. Where concerns are not of this extreme nature, we would recommend that referrals are made after the employment disciplinary procedure has been brought to a conclusion.

What information should be provided with a referral?

All employers of teachers are legally compelled to provide us with information about the teachers that they employ if this is reasonably required in connection with the performance of our functions (which includes investigating fitness to teach). This means that it is not a breach of data protection legislation for information to be provided in these circumstances.

The online referral form guides you through the information that we require. We generally need:

  • A short summary of the behaviour that resulted in disciplinary investigation (including when the behaviour occurred and where).
  • The evidence relevant to the allegation(s), and in particular:
    1. details of witnesses who were interviewed together with copies of their statements/interview minutes;
    2. any documentary evidence that was used as part of the investigation; and
    3. where a policy is alleged to have been breached, a copy of the relevant policy.
  • A brief summary of the teacher’s position (including any physical/mental health issues (or other mitigating factors) that were raised during the disciplinary process).
  • Information as to whether any of the following agencies have been involved (and if so, any relevant reference numbers):
    1. Police;
    2. Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service;
    3. Disclosure Scotland; and/or
    4. Care Inspectorate.
  • The current employment status of the individual concerned.
  • Details of any previous disciplinary incidents (including a summary of the behaviour and confirmation of the outcome of the disciplinary process).
  • Any other information that may reasonably be relevant to our investigation.
  • A point of contact for further enquiries (not just the person who chaired the disciplinary panel).
  • It is helpful that, if names are redacted in the paperwork, a key is provided. We will always take care to maintain pupil confidentiality but we may need to take our own statements so knowing who is who is important.

    It is important that we are provided with all of the above information to enable us to carry out a full and fair investigation. Only if we have all of this information, can we carry out follow-up investigations and ensure that the appropriate outcome is reached. Without full information from employers, it is difficult (and often impossible) for our fitness to teach investigations to be carried out.

    Competence Referrals

    Employers should refer to the Framework on Teacher Competence (FTC) if they have concerns regarding the competence of a teacher. This document outlines how such concerns should be addressed by employers. It is made clear in the FTC that the Standard for Full Registration (SFR) is the measure for assessing teacher competence.

    We can only consider cases relating to the competence of registered teachers in relation to their performance as classroom teachers, in line with the SFR. We cannot consider concerns relating to the ability of teachers in terms of their performance in a promoted (e.g. management/leadership) post.

    To raise a referral

    You can raise a referral with us by completing the online referral form.

    Please read the information provided on the form and then submit the completed form to the Fitness to Teach department.

    Fitness to Teach Process for Employers

    We have provided a guide to our Fitness to Teach Process for Employers