Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Legal representation

Representation at investigations and hearings is sometimes an issue. In a recent case, which is likely to be appealed, a school refused legal representation to a member of staff accused of the sexual assault of a student.

The court held that the school's disciplinary proceedings were part of a continuum that would lead to barring and that therefore the teacher was entitled to legal representation.

This is extremely contentious and it is anyone's guess what the final judgement will be. However, it does raise the issue of fairness in career-ending situations.

More common is to deny representation at investigation. It is hard to see what is achieved by this and there are definite gains in having a witness from the defendant's side who can testify that the investigation has been fairly carried out and warn off the investigator from unfair questioning.

ASCL is quick to raise this when members are involved and schools and colleges would be well-advised to make representation, or 'accompaniment by a friend' a standard part of agreed processes for investigations as well as disciplinary meetings.

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