At what time should I attend?
We will write and tell you what time to attend. When you arrive, please go to the reception desk. The receptionist will record your arrival and direct you to a waiting room. You will be asked to stay in the waiting room until it is your turn to give evidence.
You must not, under any circumstances, discuss any aspects of the case with any other witness who may be in the waiting room.
How long will I be waiting to give evidence?
It is hard to say. We will try our best to make sure that you are called to give evidence shortly after you arrive. However, you may have to wait as it is often difficult to say how long the witnesses before you will take to give their evidence. On rare occasions, you may not give evidence on the day that you are asked to attend due to delay. If this happens, we may ask you to attend on another day. If you received a witness summons, that summons will be valid for the next hearing day and every day after that until the hearing ends. We will try to minimise any inconvenience caused to you.
Will I meet the teacher and other witnesses?
Many people may be asked to attend the hearing to give evidence. The teacher and the teacher's representatives may attend, as will any witnesses that are giving evidence on behalf of the teacher. It is likely that you will meet people involved in the case. As set out above, you must not discuss any aspect of the case with others.
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 the panel 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 – this is the person who is the subject of the inquiry.
The teacher’s representatives – these may include legal representatives, union representatives or other representatives who may act and speak on behalf of the teacher. They will put the teacher’s position to the panel and will question the witnesses about their evidence. Some teachers may not have representatives and may defend their own case.
The stenographer – this person records all the evidence given at the hearing.
The public – If the hearing 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.
What happens when I am called to give evidence?
You will be brought to the witness table in the hearing room. The chairperson of the panel will introduce the panel members to you.
You will then be asked to swear an oath or to make a statement as to the truth of your evidence.
When answering questions you should speak clearly and slowly into the microphone on the witness table. If you do not hear a question, you should ask for it to be repeated. If you do not understand a question, you should ask for it to be explained to you.
The panel will not be aware of the evidence that you are giving and in most cases will not have seen your statement, so it is important that you answer questions fully.
You cannot have your witness statement with you when you give evidence but you may read it while you are in the witness waiting room.
While you are giving evidence you may be shown other documents and asked about them. Carefully read each document shown to you.
If you need to take a break while giving evidence, please ask the Chairperson of the panel. If there is a break while you are giving evidence, you must not discuss your evidence or the case with anyone. This includes the solicitors acting on behalf of the Director.
If you are called as a witness you will be entitled to the same immunities and privileges as a witness before the High Court.
Who will ask me questions?
The Director's legal representatives will ask you questions based on your signed statement. As stated above, you will not be able to have your witness statement with you when you give evidence but you may read it while you are in the witness waiting room.
The teacher, or their representative, may then ask questions. Members of the panel may also ask you questions.
Will there be breaks during the day?
The hearing will stop for lunch each day. It will also stop (adjourn) at the end of each day if the hearing lasts for more than one day. The panel may adjourn the hearing for a longer time to get more evidence or to hear from other witnesses.
It is vital that you do not discuss the case or your evidence with anyone during an adjournment. This includes the Director’s legal representatives, the teacher and the teacher’s representatives, anyone else involved with the case and your family and friends.
What happens after I have given evidence?
When you finish giving your evidence you may leave the hearing centre. If the hearing is being held in public, you can stay to watch the rest of the hearing. If the hearing is being held in private, you can only stay if you are given permission to do so by the panel. If you wish to stay, you should tell the Director’s legal representatives before the hearing so that they can put your request to the panel.