There are more than 108,000 teachers actively registered in Victoria. Since 2004, the Institute has held just over 80 disciplinary
hearings to inquire into allegations against teachers of serious misconduct, serious incompetence or lack of fitness to teach.
As a result, 36 teachers had their registration cancelled, 13 had their registration suspended and 23 remained registered. Seven
teachers had conditions imposed on their registration.
Clearly the number of teachers appearing before an Institute disciplinary hearing is a tiny proportion of the profession.
It is regrettable that in their reporting of these cases, some media commentators magnify the incidence of misconduct.
Unless the Hearing Panel closes a hearing because of the intimate, personal or financial nature of the evidence, members of the public and
the media may attend.
The Institute’s disciplinary powers are activated when an employer notifies the Institute that disciplinary action has been taken
against a teacher at their school, or if the Institute receives a complaint about a teacher. An inquiry will also be initiated when a
criminal record check discloses an indictable offence (other than a sexual offence) in a teacher’s history. A conviction or finding
of guilt for a sexual offence results in the automatic cancellation of a teacher’s registration without inquiry.
For any of these matters to proceed to a formal hearing the Institute must find prima facie evidence of a teacher’s serious misconduct,
serious incompetence or lack of fitness to teach. In many situations the evidence is not sufficient to warrant the Institute
The proceedings of a formal hearing are similar to civil court proceedings. Panel members include registered teachers and the Chair of the
Panel must be a member of the Institute Council.
Panel members must apply the principles of natural justice. They draw on precedent from other jurisdictions that set the benchmark for
serious misconduct or serious incompetence.
In reaching their decision, Panel members assess the evidence given by witnesses and the degree of insight, remorse and remedial action
demonstrated by the teacher. The purposes of disciplinary proceedings are to protect the public, to maintain proper standards of conduct
for the profession, and to protect the reputation of the profession. The proceedings are not designed to punish the teacher.
A number of outcomes are possible from the formal hearing.
The Panel may determine that the teacher may remain registered. In some circumstances the teacher will remain registered but
have conditions imposed on their registration.
The Panel may suspend the teacher’s registration for a period of time subject to the teacher meeting certain conditions.
Or the Panel may cancel the teacher’s registration. A teacher whose registration is cancelled or suspended can’t teach in
any Victorian school. Effectively, the teacher also can’t be employed as a teacher in any other Australian State or Territory.
The full decision of an Institute Hearing Panel is published online.
Below are case summaries of two decisions. The first involves allegations of serious incompetence, the second,
an allegation of serious misconduct. Both provide insight into the gravity and complexity of the decision-making process.
Readers are encouraged to visit the Institute’s website and view the full
decision of any panel hearing.
Panel concluded teacher was seriously incompetent and unfit to teach and suspended her registration for twelve months
It was alleged the teacher failed to teach effectively and engage students in active learning, failed to assess student work or
provide feedback, and that her students were disruptive to other classes and allowed to wander the school unsupervised. A further
allegation was that the teacher sat at the front of the classroom and did not move from her desk while students lined up tables
as a bowling alley and ‘bowled’ a student seated in a computer chair, the length of the classroom.
The Panel noted ‘serious incompetence need not result from criminal conduct, but that the incompetence must be of such a degree
or so frequent that it reflects on the teacher’s fitness to teach, and that whether conduct amounts to serious incompetence will
depend on the facts of the case’.
The Panel suspended the teacher’s registration for 12 months, noting ‘the public interest and the teacher would
be well served, if and when she planned to return to teaching, she initiate a series of professional development activities
targeted at the areas of concern detailed in the substantiated allegations’.
Panel determined teacher was guilty of serious misconduct and deemed unfit to teach, cancelling his registration
It was alleged the teacher failed to maintain a professional relationship with students in conversation, and in personal and
The decision noted the teacher abused his authority, betrayed the trust implicit in the student-teacher relationship, and harassed,
intimidated and exploited vulnerable young people with potentially serious effects for their emotional and psychological development.
The conversation at the heart of one of the allegations involved the sexual propositioning and harassment of a child under the
teacher’s care, compounded by an attempt to swear that child to secrecy about such action.
The Panel found no evidence of remorse from the teacher and noted ‘Until such insight and remorse are evident and
demonstrably acted upon he remains unfit to teach’.
Read more about the Institute’s
Wendy Bradly, Group Manager, Communications & Research Branch,
Victorian Institute of Teaching