Updated October 2023
The Society for Education and Training (SET) is committed to setting and maintaining standards for the highest level of professional conduct for teachers and trainers within the Further Education and Training sector.
SET’s Code of Ethics and Conduct details the professional behaviours and conduct expected of its members, which all members, irrespective of grade, agree to uphold when they join SET.
This policy sets out the procedures that SET will follow when it receives an allegation (or SET discovers/uncovers information) that suggests a member may have potentially breached the Code of Ethics and Conduct which may ultimately question their suitability to remain in SET membership. It also details the investigation procedures and the range of sanctions that may be taken if the alleged breach is upheld.
At all times, SET members are required to notify us if their circumstances change which may call into question their suitability to remain in membership.
This policy was last reviewed in January 2023 and comes into immediate effect, superseding all other previous versions.
An allegation for an alleged breach of the Code can be received from any of the following individuals or third-parties as long as there is evidence to support the claim. Hearsay will not be accepted as evidence:
1.1 All of the following documents mentioned in this policy can be found on the SET website:
1.2. SET is committed to ensuring that its membership procedures and decisions about membership and any sanctions that may be applied are fair, transparent, timely and proportionate and that the procedures are administered in a sensitive manner that reflects the nature and level of the alleged issue(s).
1.4 To ensure transparency and maintain confidence in its membership procedures, SET will from time to time publish statistics about matters dealt with under this policy and may also publish anonymised case studies of investigations undertaken. Please refer to Appendix A for more information.
The following will not be covered by this policy:
2.1. Details regarding an alleged breach of the Code should be submitted by email to SET’s Disciplinary and Investigation Officer (DIO), who will acknowledge receipt within three working days. The information should detail which area of the Code has potentially been breached. Where the allegation is from someone other than an employee of ETF, that person (who is described in these procedures as "the Referrer") will be kept informed as the investigation proceeds, in line with this policy.
3.1. The DIO will confirm whether the allegation relates to a current SET member. If it does not, or if it is not possible to identify the person to whom the allegation relates, SET will take no further action and will inform the Referrer.
3.2. If the allegation relates to a current SET member, the DIO will consider whether the evidence supplied constitutes a potential breach of the Code. The DIO will assess the evidence with reference to the Code of Ethics and Conduct and in accordance with SET’s Terms and Conditions of Membership and Guidance on Suitability for Membership.
3.3. Where the DIO is satisfied that the evidence does not constitute a breach of the Code, no further action will be taken and the Referrer will be notified of the reasons for reaching this decision.
4.1. Where the evidence provided does constitute an alleged breach of the Code, the DIO will notify the member of the allegation and will seek further information, as applicable, from some or all of the following:
4.1.1 The member
The member will be given the right to reply to the allegation. SET will ask the member whether they accept or dispute the accuracy of the allegation and any evidence we have received giving rise to the allegation.
Where the member accepts the allegation and the accuracy of any evidence submitted, they will be given the right to explain their position to the DIO, who will include this as evidence for consideration by the Investigation and Disciplinary panel (see below) before any decision is taken by the Panel regarding any sanction(s) that may be applied.
Where the member disputes the allegation/evidence submitted, they should state why and provide evidence to support their position. The member will be given 10 working days to respond to the DIO. If the member is unable to provide a response in writing within the timescale required, they should inform the DIO immediately to discuss. Reasonable adjustments may be made if for instance, the member is unable to respond within the specified timeframe due to ill-health ( medical evidence would be required).
SET may also ask the member to consent to SET requesting the disclosure of information about them by a third party (e.g. an employer) within the same time period, such a response should be given in writing.
4.1.2 Third parties
Any third party who may be able to provide relevant further information, including the Referrer.
4.2. If, having reviewed the allegation, the member’s response and any additional evidence supplied the DIO is satisfied that the matter has not breached the Code, the DIO will inform both the member and the Referrer stating the reason(s) why.
4.3 If, having obtained further evidence, the DIO remains satisfied that there may have been an alleged breach of the Code, the DIO will convene the Investigation and Disciplinary panel to review the case.
4.4. The Investigation and Disciplinary panel will establish to the best of its ability the matters of fact relating to the case and, if the breach is upheld, has the powers to determine applicable sanctions.
4.5. The Investigation and Disciplinary panel will consist of:
4.6. The Investigation and Disciplinary panel will assess the case with regard to the Code of Ethics and Conduct to determine if there has been a breach.
4.7 The Investigation and Disciplinary panel may meet in person or online.
4.8. Where, having reviewed the evidence presented by the DIO , the Investigation and Disciplinary panel is of the view that the issue of an alleged breach depends on a disputed issue of fact, the Panel may instigate the Oral Hearing Process.
4.9. The Oral Hearing will occur within 30 working days of the Investigation and Disciplinary panel being convened. Generally, an Oral Hearing will only be required where there are contradictory accounts from the Referrer/individuals who have supplied evidence and the member.
4.10. In deciding whether an Oral Hearing is required, the Investigation and Disciplinary panel may take account of any factual finding made by a third party (e.g. in civil or disciplinary proceedings). Where that factual finding is disputed by the member, the Investigation and Disciplinary panel may take account of whether the member exercised any right of appeal against that finding – generally, the Investigation and Disciplinary panel will expect a member to take reasonable steps to challenge factual findings made by third parties in the third-party proceedings.
4.11. Not every disputed issue of fact will require an Oral Hearing. Some issues may be resolved by documentary evidence. The requirement to proceed to an Oral Hearing is at the sole discretion of the Investigation and Disciplinary panel.
4.12. An Oral Hearing will be conducted according to the process outlined in Appendix B.
4.13. After reviewing all the evidence, the Investigation and Disciplinary panel will recommend a decision to the DIO no later than 10 working days after the Investigation and Disciplinary panel has convened. The decision, which will be made by simple majority vote, and once made, be the collective decision of the Panel and must be one of the following, to:
An allegation may be dismissed for one or more of the following reasons:
4.14. Following a decision by the Investigation and Disciplinary panel to take no further action against the member, the DIO will inform both the member and the Referrer of the reason why.
Throughout the investigation, if SET does not receive a response to the allegation and the member does not provide any valid reasons as to why they have not been able to respond, the investigation and any subsequent Investigation and Disciplinary panel hearing will continue to be heard in the absence of the member’s response.
5.1 If a breach of the Code is upheld, the Investigation and Disciplinary panel will, by majority vote agree to one or more of the following sanctions:
5.2. Following agreement of the sanction, the DIO will notify the member in writing. The ‘outcome notification’ will:
5.3. The DIO will send the ‘outcome notification’ to the member by email to any email address provided by the member within five working days of the Investigation and Disciplinary panel reaching its decision (see 4.13 above). Should we not be able to contact the member by email, we will send the notification by first class registered post to the postal address we hold on the member’s record.
5.4. The sanction will not take full effect:
5.4.1. until 11 working days after the date on which the outcome notification was sent, to provide the member with the option to appeal the outcome and/or sanction applied.
5.4.2. if the member appeals, the sanction will not take effect until after the appeal has been heard and a decision reached by the Appeals panel (see Section 7 below).
5.5. In the case of permanent removal or suspension from membership if the member can demonstrate that they were unable to respond to the initial request(s) for information/further information beyond their reasonable control, the DIO may reopen the case and may refer it back to the Investigation and Disciplinary panel, which will follow the prescribed timeline as detailed in this policy.
5.6 Members who are suspended from membership and who hold QTLS/ATS will also have their entry suspended from the Professional Register, for the same period of time.
5.7 If a member has paid for membership in advance, i.e. made an annual payment, they will receive a pro rata refund based on the number of months left in the current membership year. If the member is paying for membership, monthly by Direct Debit, the member will be asked to cancel the mandate and our records will be updated accordingly.
6.1. On completion of the suspension period, SET will contact the member to invite them to reinstate their membership at the grade they previously held, at the time of the initial suspension, assuming the member continues to meet the eligibility criteria as prescribed. Membership fees will apply.
6.2 If, during the suspension period or upon re-joining, a new investigation brought about by this policy which again finds the member has breached the Code, SET reserves the right to permanently exclude the member.
7.1. Members can appeal against the outcome/sanction agreed by the Investigation and Disciplinary panel, within 10 working days of the outcome notification being received on one or more of the following grounds:
7.2. Where an appeal is sought, the member must set out in full and in writing (emails are acceptable) the grounds for appeal and their arguments in support of the appeal.
7.3. On receipt of a request for an appeal, the DIO will ensure the grounds for an appeal are met. If they are not, the DIO will contact the member to request further information as applicable.
7.4. If the DIO confirms the grounds for appeal have been met, they will notify the member and will convene an Appeals Panel to hear the appeal.
7.6. The Appeals Panel will be chaired by the SET Management Board Chair, or Vice-chair if the Chair is unavailable.
7.7 Decisions will be made by simple majority vote, and once made, will be the collective decision of the Appeals Panel, without dissentions or abstentions.
7.8 Should a panel member become unavailable during consideration of a matter a replacement panel member may be substituted on to the panel.
7.9. The Appeals Panel will consider:
7.10. The Appeals Panel may ask for further clarification from the DIO and/or SET staff, which will be provided within 5 working days of the request being made.
7.11. The Appeals Panel may, but need not, meet in person to discuss its decision. Alternatively, it may deliberate via electronic communication (which may include telephone conferencing, email, video link or other means).
7.12. The Appeals Panel may receive the following support:
7.13. The Appeals Panel will assess the matter with regard to the criteria for appeal set out in clause 7.1.
7.14. The Appeals Panel will make a decision within 10 working days of convening.
7.15. After assessing the matter, the Appeals Panel may:
7.16. The Appeals Panel will notify its decision and reasons to the DIO. who will prepare the ‘notification of appeal’ outcome.
7.17. The ‘notification of appeal’ outcome will:
7.18. The ‘notification of appeal’ outcome will be sent to the member by email to any email address provided by the member (within three working days of the Appeal Panel’s decision). If an email address is not available the ‘notification of appeal’ outcome will be sent by first class registered post to the primary address we hold on the member’s record.
7.19. The DIO will also notify the Referrer of the outcome of the appeal.
7.20. The decision of the Appeals Panel is final; there will be no further grounds for appeal other than on the grounds of a procedural defect, which should be reported to the DIO immediately. In such cases a further and final appeal will be made available to the member, in line with this policy.
8.1. SET/ETF will not be held liable for any costs incurred by the member, the Referrer or any third-parties, associated with raising or defending an alleged breach of the Code, or acting as a witness.
8.2. SET/ETF will not be held liable for any potential loss or loss of earnings associated with an investigation, an appeal and the final outcome in relation to any of the parties involved.
8.3. SET reserves the right to share the outcome of the investigation with the member’s employer and relevant authorities, particularly if the member has potentially broken the law.
8.4. Throughout the process the DIO will be the member’s and Referrer’s only point of contact. The member/Referrer should not attempt to make contact with any other member of the SET (or Education and Training Foundation) team, in relation to the case/investigation, nor the members of the Investigation/Appeal panels.
8.5. Throughout the process both the member and the Referrer shall maintain confidentiality at all times. Details of the allegation, the potential breach, the investigation, the appeal and the outcome shall not be shared, by the member/Referrer with any other party, other than parties associated with the case i.e. witnesses/representatives, who shall also agree to keep the information they are party to, confidential at all times.
8.6. Details of the allegation, the investigation, any appeal and the final outcome will be held securely on the member’s record.
8.7. Investigation meetings, oral hearings and appeals may be recorded; the recording will be stored securely until the case has been resolved and the outcome communicated to the member/the Referrer.
8.8. The Investigations and Appeals panels may make recommendations to the DIO to improve all or part of the procedures to ensure the policy remains fit for purpose and in the best interests of SET members and the wider public.
8.9. The Investigation and Disciplinary Policy and Procedures will be reviewed every two years. However SET reserves the right to review and introduce changes at any time. SET members will be given 14 days’ notice of when the changes come into effect.
APPENDIX A: PUBLICISING OUTCOMES
APPENDIX B: THE ORAL HEARING PROCESS
The parties for an oral hearing
SET will not be liable for any costs incurred by a member or any other party in connection with an oral hearing.
Preparation for an oral hearing
Notification of the oral hearing and applications to postpone or adjourn
The oral hearing