SET guidance on suitability for membership
This guidance sets out the approach SET (the Society for Education and Training) will take when an individual’s suitability for membership is called into question.
Updated January 2023
General factors to consider
When considering a person's suitability for membership, SET will have regard to general factors in all cases. SET will balance these general factors, along with any specific factors which also apply, to ensure that its decisions are proportionate, transparent and fair. The general factors taken into account are as follows:
- The nature and seriousness of the matter
- Whether the matter took place in an educational setting. Generally, matters taking place within an educational setting are likely to be more relevant to a person's suitability for membership of SET.
- Any harm caused or risk of harm the matter gave rise to. The greater the harm or risk of harm within an educational setting, the less likely it is that a person will be suitable for membership.
- The impact that the matter would likely have on public confidence in further education professionals.
- The risk of the matter being repeated. This will be particularly relevant where SET membership would facilitate the repetition of the matter. If the matter could not be repeated if the person was not a member of SET, this will be a significant factor to weigh in the balance.
- The attitude of the person concerned, including whether they have demonstrated any insight and/or remorse. Where a person has demonstrated insight and/or remorse, this tends to reduce the risk of a matter being repeated. Further, the public would tend to have greater confidence in a professional who has demonstrated remorse and insight than one who has not.
- Any rehabilitative or reparative steps taken by the person concerned. Again, this is relevant to the risk of repetition and public confidence.
Any decision taken by third parties in respect of the matter, for instance the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) or an employer. In the event that the DBS or an employer has made a decision not to bar an individual, or to employ/continue to employ an individual in light of the allegation and any subsequent conviction, SET may attach weight to that decision when considering its own position on membership.
- Similarly, where a matter amounting to an alleged criminal offence has been considered and/or investigated by the police (or any similar agency) which did not lead to further action and/or prosecution SET will attach weight to that decision.
Sanctions imposed by third parties
- When considering the impact a matter has on a person's suitability for membership, SET will have regard to general factors in all cases, as detailed above. SET will balance these general factors, along with any specific sanctions imposed or actions taken by third parties which may also apply, to ensure that its decisions are fair, transparent and proportionate.
Honesty and integrity
- SET members are required to act with honesty and integrity. Dishonest conduct in the educational setting will call into question a person's suitability for continued membership. Acts of dishonesty would be considered a breach of the Code of Ethics and Conduct which may lead to an investigation.
- Dishonest conduct outside the education setting may also call into question a person's suitability for membership, particularly if it would be likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in FE professionals.
- When assessing this, in addition to considering the general factors, we will take into account whether the dishonesty occurred in a position of trust.
- When considering dishonest conduct outside the workplace, SET will also consider whether the conduct amounted to a criminal offence. If it did, then in accordance with the general factors, SET will attach weight to any decision taken by the police or other external agency.
- SET will also bear in mind the need to ensure that someone who has not been prosecuted for conduct which, if proved, would amount to a criminal offence, should not be in a worse position than someone who has been cautioned, or prosecuted and convicted of a similar offence, and for whom the matter has become spent.
Failure to use reasonable professional judgement within an educational setting
- Provided that a person exercises their professional judgement in a way that other reasonable members of the profession would have done, this will have no adverse impact on their suitability for membership of SET.
- In contrast, where a person exercises their judgement in such a way that no other reasonable member of the profession would have done, this may call into question their suitability.
Duty of care
- In accordance with the Code of Ethics and Conduct, SET members are required to ‘take care to ensure the safety and welfare of learners and comply with relevant statutory provisions to support their well-being and development.’
- In considering whether there has been any breach of this requirement, SET will pay particular regard to any regulatory or civil findings against the person concerned, or as a result of their conduct.
Diversity and non-discrimination
- Any conduct which discriminates unfairly against people may call into question a person's suitability for membership of SET, and SET will have regard to the general factors which assessing this.
Cooperation with SET and investigations
- SET is dependent on the cooperation of its members to ensure the integrity of its membership processes, procedures and upholding its eligibility criteria.
- SET members are required to comply with all reasonable requests for information from SET. Failure to do so may result in suspension or removal of membership.
- SET members are also required to cooperate with investigations in their capacity as further education professionals (as opposed to in a private capacity), whether the investigation involves their conduct or the conduct of others in a professional setting.
- SET members must ensure that they do not dissuade others from raising concerns, in a professional setting, or act unfairly towards them if they do.
- All alleged breaches of the Code of Ethics and Conduct will also be assessed against the general factors in this document as applicable.
- In addition, where a breach of the Code is proven and established to be wilful or deliberate, or to have been carried out with the intention of covering up professional misconduct, this will be regarded more seriously than an accidental or inadvertent breach.
- SET reserves the right to report any wilful or deliberate act to cover up professional misconduct, to the relevant authorities including the individual’s employer.