Can a teacher be disciplined by the Local Authority rather than her School?
The recent case of Davies v London Borough of Haringey addressed whether a local authority could discipline a teacher of a community maintained school.
Mrs Davies had been employed at Northumberland Park Community School since 1992. In 1997, she was elected as Deputy Divisional Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (the "NUT") for Haringey. She was released from her teaching duties for 3 days a week to allow her to carry out trade union activities and taught for the remaining 2 days a week. From 2000, she was released from her teaching duties full-time and she worked solely on trade union duties since that date.
In 2014, the local authority suspended her on the basis that she had breached its Code of Conduct and Social Media policy. She asked the High Court to rule that the local authority had no power to suspend her and that only the School could carry out disciplinary proceedings.
Whilst the court accepted that the governing body should have day to day management powers over those employed to work in the school, Mrs Davies had in fact not worked at the School for approximately 14 years. It therefore took a common sense approach and decided that, since she had worked for Haringey for an extended period of time, the local authority had disciplinary powers over her.
This seems a sensible outcome and in circumstances where teachers may work for other organisations, gives a useful indication of the approach that the courts are likely to take.