What is gross misconduct?


During your teaching career you may be accused of gross misconduct which is a very serious allegation and could result in you being banned from the classroom.

If you have been accused of gross misconduct and dismissed as a result, your matter will be referred to the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) or the Education Workforce Council (if you teach in Wales) and could have an impact on you being able to teach again.

In this article, we explain what gross misconduct is, the difference between ‘misconduct’ and ‘gross misconduct’ and look at what you can do if you have been alleged of gross misconduct.

What constitutes as gross misconduct in teaching? 

GOV.UK explains that gross misconduct includes incidents such as theft, physical violence, gross negligence or serious insubordination.

With gross misconduct, schools can dismiss the employee immediately as long as they follow a fair procedure. Schools should investigate the incident and give the employee a chance to respond before deciding to dismiss them.

Your school’s disciplinary policy might include specific examples of what constitutes as gross misconduct. Some of these can include:

  • Stealing from school and members of staff
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Being on duty under the influence of drinks or drugs, other than those that have been medically prescribed
  • Deliberate falsification of documentation
  • Criminal conduct
  • Breaches of the school’s equal opportunities including racial and sexual discrimination/harassment
  • Failure to uphold public trust and maintain high standards of ethics and behaviour within and outside school
  • Serious misuse of the school’s email, internet and other electronic facilities
  • Breach of confidentiality
  • Fighting or assault on another member of staff, pupil or parent
  • Actions which endanger other employees safety

What is the difference between ‘misconduct’ and ‘gross misconduct’?

Misconduct: misconduct is when the disciplinary rules are broken. Members of staff should not be instantly dismissed for one instance of ‘misconduct.’

Gross misconduct: is misconduct so serious, which if substantiated, undermines the mutual trust and confidence between the employee and their employer and merits instant dismissal. In this situation, the member of staff can be summarily dismissed.

It’s important to clarify the difference between the two so you can ascertain the seriousness and likely outcomes of your misconduct.

What is summary dismissal?

Summary dismissal means that a member of staff can be dismissed without notice, or in payment in lieu of notice. It should only be considered in cases of ‘gross misconduct.’ Even then, fair disciplinary procedures must be followed. Failing to establish the facts before taking action and denying the member of staff the right to appeal is highly likely to be considered unfair at an employment tribunal and lead to a claim against the school.

What happens if I am suspended?

You may be suspended while you school conducts an investigation. Please contact Edapt as soon as possible if you have been suspended so we are able to provide the most effective support.

We have published another article which outlines your employment rights if suspended from school.

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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.