Reporting a Concern
Concerns about a teacher's conduct or competence come to our attention in several ways:
- Mandatory reports from employers – Schools and early childhood centres are required to report to us about their teachers in certain cases—for example if they dismiss a teacher for any reason, or if a teacher resigns or a fixed-term position comes to an end after a conduct or competence issue has been raised.
- Criminal convictions – The Teaching Council must be notified if a teacher is convicted of any criminal offence punishable by a jail term of three months or more (drink-driving for example).
- Complaints – Complaints about teachers must usually go first to the teacher’s employer. In some limited cases they can be made to the Teaching Council first—for example, if the teacher isn’t currently teaching.
Sometimes too we may become aware of a problem in some other way. In those cases we can begin the conduct or competence processes on our own initiative. This is called doing this on our “own motion”.
If a school or early childhood centre believes a teacher could be guilty of serious misconduct they have a legal obligation to report this to the Teaching Council. This is called a mandatory report.
The school or centre must make a mandatory report to the Teaching Council in the following situations:
- Serious misconduct – if the school or early childhood centre thinks a teacher may have committed serious misconduct—for example, physical or mental abuse of a student, an inappropriate relationship with a student, or theft. See the full list of types of serious misconduct that need to be reported.
- Any dismissal – if a teacher is dismissed from their job for any reason.
- Resigning after a conduct/competence issue – if a teacher resigns, or their fixed-term contract ends, and the school or centre told the teacher it was unhappy with, or was going to investigate, the teacher’s conduct or competence within 12 months of the teacher’s resignation.
- Complaints about teachers who recently left – if the school or centre gets a complaint about the conduct or competence of their former teacher, less than 12 months since the teacher left.
- Competence – if the school or centre believes the teacher hasn’t reached the required competence level, after the school or centre has taken steps to address the competence problem.
Whenever a teacher is convicted of a criminal offence punishable by a jail term of three months or more, we must be notified so we can assess whether the teacher should be referred to the conduct disciplinary process.
Criminal convictions come to our attention in several ways:
Self-reporting by the teacher
If a teacher is convicted of a criminal offence punishable by a jail term of three months or more, they must tell the Teaching Council within a week of that decision. This includes drink-driving, for example. It’s not the actual sentence the particular teacher gets that counts here—it’s whether the possible penalty for the offence is three months’ jail or more.
A teacher commits misconduct if they don’t report the conviction. This could lead to disciplinary proceedings.
Notification by the courts
The court registrar from the court where the teacher was convicted must also notify us about the conviction if they’re aware the person is a teacher.
Who do I tell if I have a concern about a teacher?
If you are concerned about a teacher’s behaviour or competence you should first raise it with the teacher’s employer, to give them a chance to investigate your concerns. Although we can receive complaints in certain cases, we are not primarily a complaints service. The law requires the teacher’s school or early childhood centre to be the first port of call for raising concerns. We generally do not have jurisdiction to consider disputes between parents and schools.
If you are not happy with how the school or centre has dealt with the issue, you can raise your concerns with us. In limited cases too, a complaint can be made directly to us without first taking it to the teacher’s employer.
When can I go directly to the Teaching Council about a teacher?
Although complaints about a teacher usually have to be made first to the teacher’s employer, you can complain directly to the Teaching Council if:
- the teacher isn’t currently teaching, or
- you’ve got reasonable grounds to think a conflict of interest will prevent the teacher’s employer dealing with the complaint effectively. or
- it’s an exceptional case.
If you’re complaining to the Teaching Council you have to include:
- your full name and contact details (you can’t make an anonymous complaint)
- the teacher’s name
- details of what you’re complaining about, backed by any relevant evidence
- if possible, the outcome you’d like to see.