What is an inquiry?
In most cases, an inquiry will take the form of an oral hearing before a panel of the Disciplinary Committee. It is similar to a hearing before a court or tribunal. Witnesses give evidence under oath.
Will the oral hearing be held in public or private?
Hearings take place in public unless the teacher or a witness about whom personal matters may be disclosed requests the panel to hold the hearing or part of the hearing in private, and the panel is satisfied that it would be appropriate to do so. If a hearing is held in public, the panel may keep the teacher’s identity or the identity of the other people involved, confidential.
The teacher who is the subject of the inquiry, can ask that the inquiry take place by an examination of the relevant documents and written submissions instead of as an oral hearing. In addition, at the request of, or with the consent of a registered teacher the panel of the Disciplinary Committee can ask the teacher to consent to the inquiry taking place by an examination of the relevant documents and written submissions.
An inquiry by examination of relevant documents and written submissions takes place in private with no parties present. The panel of the Disciplinary Committee will decide which approach is suitable. In most cases, an oral hearing will take place, especially where facts are disputed or are at issue.
If an oral hearing takes place, what is the role of the school or employer?
We may ask a representative of the school to give evidence as a witness. For more information in relation to the role of a witness and what to expect at a hearing, please see our Witness information booklet.
How is the hearing prepared?
The Director of the Teaching Council will be responsible for preparing and presenting the evidence to the panel at the hearing. The Director is required to prove the complaint at the hearing. The Director will usually get solicitors to help. The Director and solicitors will gather evidence such as reports, correspondence and written witness statements.
The panel of the Disciplinary Committee which considers a complaint will decide whether the complaint is proven and on which grounds (for example, professional misconduct, poor professional performance, being medically unfit to teach, and so on). Usually, complaints have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt at inquiry.
Where will the oral hearing take place?
Most hearings take place at the Teaching Council offices at Block A, Maynooth Business Campus, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Occasionally, hearings may be held elsewhere. Before the hearing, we will write to relevant persons with the location, date and time that they should attend.
Who will be present in the hearing room?
The panel of the Disciplinary Committee – this will include three to five people, who are members of the Disciplinary Committee. One member of the panel will act as Chairperson.
The Legal Assessor – this is a barrister who will sit with the panel and advise them about legal or procedural issues. The Legal Assessor does not decide whether the complaint has been proven. This is a matter for the panel only.
The Director’s legal representatives – these may include solicitors or barristers who will present the case on behalf of the Director.
The Teaching Council staff – these will include relevant staff of the Teaching Council.
The registered teacher
The teacher’s representatives – these may include legal, union or other representatives who may act and speak on the teacher’s behalf. They will put the teacher’s position to the panel and will question the witnesses about their evidence. If the teacher does not have representatives they may defend their own case.
The stenographer – this person records all the evidence given at the hearing.
The public – If the inquiry is held in public, there may be members of the public including journalists present to watch and listen to the proceedings. They usually sit at the back of the hearing room.