How can I whistleblow at my school?
Whistleblowing may be a term you have heard about but might be unsure of what it involves.
Whistleblowing is a term to describe notifying the relevant authorities if you think there are rules or procedures which your school is not adhering to and it is in the ‘public interest’ to alert them. One example of when it would be in the public interest is when you believe the school is breaking the law or covering up a wrongdoing.
Generally, whistleblowing is about putting ‘something right’ which will benefit others rather than a concern about your personal interest. In this article, we outline what types of things you can whistleblow about, what you should do if you want to raise a concern and what protection is available if you decide to whistleblow.
What issues can I whistleblow about?
You are protected by the law if you whistleblow about any of the following:
- A criminal offence, for example you are aware of financial fraud by the school
- A member of staff or pupils’ health and safety is in danger
- Risk or actual damage to the school grounds
- A miscarriage of justice
- The school is breaking the law, for example it does not have the right insurance
- You believe a member of staff is covering up wrongdoing
Personal grievances, for example, bullying, harassment, discrimination are not covered by whistleblowing law, unless your particular case is in the public interest.
You can report this under your school’s grievance policy. Please see another article on Edapt for details about grievance procedures.
What should I do if I want to raise a whistleblowing concern?
You will want to consult your school’s whistleblowing policy and follow the procedures outlined. It can include the different routes available to you for reporting a concern, including which member of staff to approach.
Your whistleblowing policy might also explain that you can contact your local authority or Trust in case you should report to someone outside your school. There are other options if you don’t want to report your concern to your employer, for example, you can get advice from Edapt, or get into contact with the relevant organisations:
- If your concern relates to matters of regulation or inspection. [email protected]
- If your concern relates to potential maladministration of exams and qualifications. [email protected]
The Health and Safety Executive
- If you have a concern about health and safety at your school
- Has a list of other bodies and organisations which you can contact, other than your employer.
How can I whistleblow anonymously?
You can tell your school anonymously but they may not be able to take the claim further if you have not provided all the information they need. You can whistleblow anonymously by setting up a new email account or sending an anonymous letter.
You can give your name but request confidentiality, the person or organisation you tell should make every effort to protect your identity. If you report your concern to the media, in most cases, you will lose your whistleblowing legal rights.
What can I expect when I whistleblow?
Your school or the relevant body, will listen to your concern and decide if any action is needed. You may be asked for further information about your concern. You must say as soon as possible if you do not want anyone else to know it was you who raised the concern.
Your school or organisation can keep you informed about the action they have taken, but they cannot give you detailed information if they have to keep the confidence of other people.
What can I do if I am not satisfied that my concern is not dealt with appropriately?
You can contact a more senior member of staff at your school, local authority, Trust or organisation you have notified. In addition you can contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), the whistleblowing charity Public Concern at Work or Edapt for more support.
Will I get into trouble for whistleblowing?
It is unlawful for a school, local authority or Trust to subject a teacher to any detrimental consequences for whistleblowing. This includes threats, disciplinary action, and loss of pay or damage to career prospects. You should not be treated unfairly or lose your job because you have ‘blown the whistle’.
You could take your case to an employment tribunal if you have been treated unfairly. Edapt has produced another article which explains what employment tribunals are.
If you reported your concern anonymously, you may find it harder to argue that your unfair treatment was as a result of your whistleblowing.
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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.