Voice Official Response: Interim Suspension order consultation

Voice Cymru's response to consultation by Education Workforce Council (EWC)

Voice Official Response: Interim Suspension order consultation

Background:  In December 2017, the Children, Young People and Education Committee published its report on the Teachers’ Professional Learning and Education inquiry. The report included a recommendation to the Cabinet Secretary for Education for the EWC to be given legislative powers to impose interim suspension orders. In March 2018, the Cabinet Secretary set out in a plenary debate on the report that, in order to consider the recommendation further, she required the EWC to undertake its own consultation with practitioners and key stakeholders on the need for and use of such a power.

Legislation requires the EWC to investigate and hear cases against registrants involving professional misconduct, incompetence or criminal offences. This consultation sets out why the EWC considers the lack of interim suspension order powers represents a serious safeguarding risk to learners and the public. The EWC is seeking views on proposals to extend its powers to include the ability to impose an interim suspension order where a case is significantly serious and is being investigated.

Summary:  We agree that Interim Suspension Orders (“ISO”) would provide an additional safeguard as described above, provided that it is made explicit in the Regulations that the imposition of an ISO will only be considered if:

  • the EWC has categorised the case as significantly serious following a fair and transparent procedure; and
  • there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate there are significant safeguarding concerns; and
  • the Police deems there to be a pressing social need.

We have one reservation with regard to defending the imposition of an ISO, which is that our understanding of the use of ISOs in other sectors, such as health, is that an ISO is imposed very soon after the referral of a case to the regulatory body.  The imposition of an ISO can occur before a disciplinary sanction, particularly if there is a Police investigation, and registrants sometimes have very limited information from which to defend themselves because employers are often reluctant to release relevant documentation.  This makes it difficult to prevent an ISO being imposed, and means that the EWC should be even more mindful of the seriousness of imposing an ISO.  Therefore, in the interests of fair due process, there has to be sufficient evidence that:

  • the case is significantly serious (using the factors stated in paragraph 16 of the consultation guidance); and
  • there are significant safeguarding concerns; and
  • the Police deems there to be a pressing social need.

Read Voice's Official Response (pdf)

Read the consultation.

Contact:

Elizabeth Williams
Senior Professional Officer (Wales)
Email