Teacher probation periods: what do I need to know?


Teacher probation periods are increasingly found more often in employment contracts. It’s an interesting topic as probation periods are not mentioned in the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) or Burgundy Book.

Probation periods can be a good way for both yourself and your employer to decide if you are the right fit for the setting and you can meet their expectations for the role. We’ve actually written a blog post about Multi-Academy Trusts implementing changes to teacher’s employment contracts in relation to probation and notice periods.

In this article, we look at probation policies from schools and what to do if you are concerned with potentially failing your probation period.

Teacher probation periods: are they allowed?

Yes, many different types of schools (academies to independent schools) employ teachers with a probationary period in their contracts. However, some schools decide not to have a probation period for teachers and their probation periods only apply to supply staff. It really does vary from school to school.

Teacher probation period policy from an academy trust

The Thinking Schools Academy Trust has a probation period policy. It explains that all new members of teachers and support staff are required to undertake a period of probation when they commence employment.

It explains the Trust reserves the right to terminate employment at any time without recourse to the adopted disciplinary, performance or capability procedures. However any decision taken to do so will be fair and consistent, supporting evidence will be required to demonstrate you have been made aware of the concerns and given every opportunity to address these.

The policy explains that towards the end of the probation period a final review meeting will take place with the employee to consider their overall performance during their probation period. Possible outcomes of this meeting are:

  • Performance is of an acceptable level and the employee will be confirmed in post
  • Performance has reached an acceptable level although informal monitoring and support will continue to ensure improvement is sustained. 
  • Performance remains unsatisfactory however it is anticipated that with further support and an extended time this will be met, the probationary period may be extended.  
  • Performance has not reached an acceptable standard or it is not anticipated that improvements will be sustained. If this is the case you will be given every opportunity to offer an explanation regarding your failure to meet the standards expected. In this case it is possible that your probationary period may be terminated under the terms of your contract

The policy notes that if the decision is taken to end the employment, the employee will receive one week’s statutory notice for support staff, notice periods for teachers will be paid in accordance with the notice periods set out in the Burgundy book. 

Probation period just for support staff

The Engage Trust has a probation policy specifically just for support staff and is not applied to teaching staff.

The policy explains that a three-month period should normally give ample opportunity for the headteacher to assess whether an employee has reached an acceptable standard of performance and a management decision should be taken during this period.

It notes that in exceptional circumstances, for example sickness absence or in some disciplinary situation, a probationary may be extended by a period of up to three months.

Concerned during your probation period?

If you are an Edapt subscriber and you are concerned about the final outcome of your probation you can contact us for further support and advice. You will need to forward on your employment contract and your school’s probation policy so we will be able to assist you.

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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.