What can I expect in a disciplinary meeting?
You may be invited to attend a disciplinary meeting at your school if you have been alleged of misconduct in your role. This will likely be a stressful time for yourself and you may not know what to expect.
This article outlines what a disciplinary meeting is, how you can best be prepared and what the possible outcomes of attending a disciplinary meeting are.
What is a disciplinary meeting?
A disciplinary meeting will be organised by your school following a single or number of investigatory interviews to establish the facts surrounding an allegation of misconduct. The purpose of the meeting is also to decide on the type and level of sanction to be applied to either seek to improve your conduct, or in serious incidents, to dismiss you from the school.
Edapt has another article explaining what to expect in a investigatory interview.
For what reasons can I be invited to a disciplinary meeting?
Your school will have a disciplinary policy which will outline the circumstances of when you can be taken to a disciplinary meeting. Examples of when you could be taken to a disciplinary meeting include:
- Persistent lateness
- Allegations from pupils, parents or staff
- Unauthorised absences from school
- Theft of school or pupil property
- Physical and/or verbal abuse of other teachers, staff, or pupils
- Any action deemed to have brought the school into disrepute, for example inappropriate messages or statements on social media
Some incidents of misconduct can be so serious that they are called gross misconduct. Such incidents would be investigated and processed within the disciplinary procedures of the school, but could result in your dismissal. Examples of gross misconduct can include:
- Serious incapability at school through drugs, substances or alcohol
- A serious breach of health and safety rules
- Criminal or serious misconduct involving children
- A serious data breach or information security breach
Can I be taken to a disciplinary meeting because of poor performance?
In most circumstances, no. Capability procedures should be used when addressing issues with teacher performance. Your school should have a separate process and guidelines for its capability procedures.
Edapt has another article outlining what capability procedures are and when they can be used.
However if poor quality work or a failure to meet targets could be considered to be the result of negligence or a refusal to carry out prescribed working practices, then disciplinary action may well be justified.
How should you prepare for a disciplinary meeting?
- Edapt recommends being accompanied by either a trade union representative, an individual appointed by a trade union or a colleague at school. Please read another article on Edapt on accompaniment in disciplinary or grievance hearings for more information
- Read and understand your school’s policies and procedures concerning disciplinary matters
- Ensure that your school has complied with its own policies and procedures
- Be sure that you fully understand the allegation and that you have prepared your defence and arranged any witnesses in aid of your defence
Who will be at the meeting?
- The disciplinary officer – who will preside over the meeting and decide on the outcome
- The investigating officer – who will present the case against you
- A representative of your school’s personnel/human resources
- Yourself and your representative
What will happen during the meeting?
The usual format is:
- The investigating officer will present their case including any witness statements
- You or your representative can ask questions of the investigating officer
- You or your representative present your case including any witness statements
- The investigating officer can ask you questions
- Both parties retire whilst the disciplining officer considers the cases made, often with advice from the human resources representative
- Both parties return to the hearing to hear the decision of the disciplining officer
What if you cannot make the date or time or location of the meeting?
You will be allowed to request a postponement for valid reasons, stating your preferred date, time and location. If you do not attend, without due notice the meeting may proceed without you, denying you the opportunity for you to state your case or ask questions.
What happens if you get upset during the meeting?
These meetings can be stressful, and if you get upset you can request an adjournment for you to regain your thoughts. Also, in complex or lengthy cases you can request an adjournment to enable you to talk in private with your representative before continuing with the meeting.
What are the types of sanction I may receive following a disciplinary meeting?
These will be described within your school’s disciplinary policy and usually consist of one the following:
- A verbal warning – for minor misconduct
- First written warning – usually kept active on your personnel file for a period of between 6 to 12 months
- Final written warning – for persistent misconduct, kept active on your file for again 6 to 12 months
If the employer considers that the alleged misconduct may result in dismissal, usually referred to as gross misconduct, it is usually stated as such in the invitation to the meeting. But this is not always the case, and if possible you should ascertain if this is the case.
Can I appeal the decision?
You can usually submit an appeal against a disciplinary sanction. The procedures for this should be clearly set out in your school’s disciplinary policy. The person who will hear your appeal will have no previous knowledge of the case.
You can contact Edapt for advice and support if you are thinking of submitting an appeal against a disciplinary sanction.
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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.