Advice on whistleblowing in the education sector
What should you do as a teacher or school staff member who feels there is injustice or wrongdoing in your school? Does your school have systems in place to ensure that concerned teachers and pupils can report concerns and feel protected?
The Department for Education (DfE) and organisations such as Public Concern at Work (PCaW) are continually encouraging those who work in education to report any acts of wrongdoing without fear of reprisal. We fully agree with this outlook, and we are ready to support you with any legal advice or services you need.
Whistleblowing in schools: case study
There was a high-profile case in 2015, known as the ‘Trojan Horse plot’, which involved a trust school in Birmingham. The plot centred on an alleged move by a small group of hard-line Islamists to seize control of a small number of secular Birmingham schools, with the intention of then pushing extremist ideologies onto the pupils.
A large-scale investigation by the DfE, in conjunction with the police, led to disciplinary proceedings being brought by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) against several of the plotters concerned. Although the proceedings were dropped after the NCTL found that there were numerous serious procedural errors in the investigation, the case illustrates the importance of people coming forward to report wrongdoing in order to protect vulnerable people in society – in this case, schoolchildren.
The government has produced a whitepaper, Whistleblowing: Guidance for Employers and Code of Practice, which states that all organisations should take “all reasonable steps to maintain the confidentiality of the whistleblower where it is requested”. It is also worth noting that the Trojan Horse case caused disbelief, and it is likely that further legal action will be taken in respect of the disclosures.
How can a school prepare for and protect whistleblowers?
In light of the Trojan Horse plot, each school should have in place a policy and procedure that aims to protect any member of staff, so that said member of staff can disclose any concerns they have about the behaviour of a colleague (or several) whom they believe may be acting illegally or neglecting their duties.
How can Kennedys help your school’s whistleblowing case?
We can assist with the following:
- Support before and during ‘blowing the whistle’, including advising on rights and legal protection.
- Unfair-dismissal claims.
- Seeking redress on your behalf if you are being mistreated as a result of having whistle-blown.
- Drafting a school’s whistleblowing policy.
- Training staff on how to deal with issues that may arise as a result of whistleblowing.
- Advising employers and employees on procedures relating to whistleblowing.
Contact our team for whistleblowing advice and support
If you are seeking advice on any of the above issues, contact us by phone or submit your details by email to email@example.com, or fill out the contact form opposite.