School leaders have a duty to know about correct HR procedures, to investigate complaints made by staff, and to take appropriate action using a disciplinary process.
One of the early stages of the procedure is the disciplinary investigation phase where evidence is gathered objectively to establish the facts.
Failing to follow the correct procedure could result in you being taken to an employment tribunal where you might have to pay out compensation and your decision could be reversed.

Understanding Disciplinary Investigations in Schools & Colleges

What is a disciplinary procedure?

A disciplinary procedure is a formal way for an employer to deal with an employee’s unacceptable or improper behaviour (‘misconduct’) or performance (‘capability’)

What is a grievance procedure?

A grievance procedure is a formal way for an employee to raise a problem or complaint to their employer.

What is the capability procedure?

If an employer believes an employee’s performance needs to improve, it’s important they try to understand the reasons why and take steps to support and improve the employee’s performance. Taking steps informally can help resolve issues and prevent further action. If the employee’s performance still does not improve, an employer may decide to investigate more formally to help decide on the most appropriate next steps.

How should disciplinary investigations be conducted?

When there is a possible workplace disciplinary or grievance issue, the employer should find out all they reasonably can about the issue. These are known as a ‘disciplinary investigations’ and are used to: see if there is a case to answer; make sure everyone is treated fairly; gather evidence from all sides, and help the employer to see what should happen next.

When is it appropriate to suspend a colleague?

Suspension is when an employer tells an employee to temporarily stop carrying out work. An employer can consider suspending someone while carrying out a disciplinary or grievance investigation, if there’s a serious issue or situation.  An employer should consider each situation carefully before deciding whether to suspend someone as suspension will only be appropriate in some situations.

Can you appeal a disciplinary or grievance outcome?

Yes, an appeal is used to review whether a decision that’s been made should be overturned or changed.

‘You must follow a full and fair procedure in line with the Acas Code for any discipline or grievance case. The procedure you’ve followed will be taken into account if the case reaches an employment tribunal.’

ACAS – Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service

How JMC can support you

Our consultants are highly experienced school leaders who are able to provide bespoke INSET according to your needs.  Our aim is always to ensure that you, the client, gets maximum benefit from our training.  Therefore we would collaboratively with you to put together a bespoke package that meets your needs.

INSET – what we can offer

“JMC’s high-quality delivery is energetic and engaging, giving colleagues a range of pragmatic practical suggestions to help develop themselves and the school.”

Alan Dennis, Deputy Head Bury Grammar School

We will work with you to listen to your needs and develop a bespoke training package for your HR staff & school leaders.  Your needs will depend on the level of HR support which your school currently has.  Such INSET is delivered by school leaders who have extensive practical knowledge of everyday HR in schools.  A typical INSET might include:

  • The differences between grievance, capability and disciplinary processes
  • The importance of following the ACAS code of practice
  • Determining when suspension from work appropriate?
  • Conducting fair disciplinary investigations
    • Assessing the issuesDeveloping lines of inquiryGathering evidenceDrawing conclusions and findings
    • Making recommendations
  • Presenting the case at a hearing
  • Hearing a grievance or disciplinary case
  • The implications of outcomes on personnel records and references
  • Appeals

External Support with Sensitive Disciplinary Investigations

‘We maintain the strictest levels of confidentially throughout all our consultancy projects with schools & colleges’


Sometimes things go wrong involving staff and it is necessary to conduct a complex or sensitive investigation.  In such circumstances it may be useful for a third party to conduct the investigation owing to the nature of the case and to provide the confidence that the investigation is being handled professionally and confidentially.

JMC can support your school by providing an experienced school leader to conduct your investigation and produce a confidential report of findings and recommendations and even present the case at a hearing if required.

Whatever your requirements, we will listen carefully and help you achieve the agreed area of focus.

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