Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Support for ASCL members


The past year has seen an increasing workload in ASCL's Legal Department, as our in-house solicitors work to support members in difficulty. The department deals with a variety of legal matters, primarily concerned with employment and regulatory issues.

Referrals to the General Teaching Council (GTC) are without doubt increasing, a trend that looks set to continue. Responding to concerns that it was not sufficiently effective in its regulatory role, the GTC extensively publicised its new code of conduct and the result has been a significant increase in cases referred to it.

The Legal Department has been successful in having several GTC cases disposed of at the investigatory stage, without the need for a hearing. In other words, the GTC acknowledged that the member had no case to answer. Naturally this involves a considerable amount of coordination between the member and the Legal Department in order to submit the best case possible at an early stage.

Where referrals have progressed to a hearing, every effort is made to defend the member or minimise the sanction in order to ensure that members are able to continue with their careers.

The department has also been involved in several personal injury claims and has successfully obtained compensation for members injured in the course of their employment.

ASCL legal staff have also regularly attended working group meetings set up to discuss how best to plan the role of the Independent Safeguarding Authority. The scheme went live in October 2009.

ASCL solicitors expect to become increasingly involved in disciplinary hearings this year, following a ruling in a recent court case which has had the effect of allowing an employee to have legal representation in internal disciplinary hearings where the decision could effectively end any chance of a career in education.

On a daily basis ASCL solicitors also advise regional and field officers on disciplinary issues, redundancy, transfer of undertakings issues, contracts, compromise agreements and other points of law.

Legal input often helps to achieve a satisfactory settlement for both the member and employer. However, in cases where it is necessary to begin legal proceedings, it means a considerable amount of work drafting witness statements, preparing documents, and attending hearings. Most cases are settled before a hearing, but of course this is not guaranteed. Some cases may take months or even, in a couple of instances, years to come to a hearing.

In all it has been a busy year for the ASCL Legal Department and the next year looks to be even more so.

Membership details update

Have you changed your role, school, home address or email recently? If so please let us know. You can check the personal details that ASCL holds on you, and update them, via the website. Go to www.ascl.org.uk, log in and click on 'update details' in the Welcome box.

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