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Headteachers: Disciplinary Proceedings

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 20 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) how many headteachers have been suspended for (a) three to six months, (b) six to nine months and (c) more than a year in the latest period for which figures are available; (248156)

(2) what guidance his Department provides to local authorities on the suspension of (a) headteachers and (b) other teaching staff; and what grounds he has to intervene when such guidance has not been followed;

(3) what duty local authorities have to report the suspensions of headteachers to his Department;

(4) what powers his Department has to investigate the suspension of headteachers or other senior staff; and on what occasions such powers have been exercised in the last three years.

The operation of disciplinary procedures, including those that result in suspension, is a matter for local determination. To support schools in this area there are a variety of sources of advice available to help governing bodies with their responsibilities. The DCSF's ‘A Guide to the Law for School Governors and Staffing’ guidance set out the statutory responsibilities falling to schools and local authorities as employers. This guidance is available through and These sources also provide access to an extensive range of additional guidance material including materials from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.

Schools and local authorities are therefore able to draw from a wide variety of guidance when devising their policies and handling disciplinary cases, including suspension.

In respect of both head teachers and other teaching staff our guidance makes it clear that suspension is a neutral act allowing time to assess the situation before a final decision is taken. It does not imply guilt but provides an opportunity for matters to be investigated; nor does it go into detail about issues such as the length of any suspension. Decisions of this nature are best left to schools to determine, drawing on the guidance that is available and where appropriate on advice and support from local authorities. The only circumstances where the Secretary of State may become involved would be when an individual seeks intervention on the basis that the suspension is taking an unreasonably long time or the governing body appear not to be taking any further action.

There is no duty on local authorities to report suspensions of headteachers to the Department. Other than the circumstances described above the Secretary of State would not ordinarily become involved in suspensions of head teachers or other senior staff and there are no centrally held records setting out when and to what extent the Secretary of State has been involved. Accordingly the information requested is not collected centrally.