Guide to school employment tribunals


Navigating the complex world of school employment tribunals can be challenging. As employees and educators, it is crucial to understand the processes and procedures associated with these legal proceedings. This article serves as a detailed guide to better prepare you for any potential school employment tribunal scenarios.

What is a School Employment Tribunal?

A school employment tribunal is a legal proceeding where an employee or former employee of an educational institution brings forth a claim against their employer. These claims generally involve issues such as unfair dismissal, discrimination, breaches of contracts, wages disputes, and working conditions.

Key Players in a School Employment Tribunal

1. Claimant: The employee or former employee who brings forth their claim against the school.

2. Respondent: The educational institution that is being accused of misconduct or breach of contract.

3. Tribunal Panel: Consists of three members – a legally qualified chairperson and two non-legally qualified members representing both the employers and employees standpoints.

The Process

1. Filing a claim: The first step in initiating a school employment tribunal is for the claimant to file an official complaint within the appropriate time frame (usually within three months from the date of the alleged incident).

2. Acas Early Conciliation: To avoid going to court, claimants must first attempt Acas Early Conciliation – an opportunity for both parties to resolve their dispute without involving a tribunal through mediation services provided by Acas.

3. Issuing a response: If conciliation fails or is refused, the respondent has 28 days to file their response, providing their defense against the allegations made by the claimant.

4. Case management and preparation: Both parties are given detailed instructions concerning the steps they must take to prepare for the hearing (such as exchanging documents and witness statements).

5. Tribunal hearing: At this stage, both sides will present their case in front of the tribunal panel. The hearing process may involve cross-examination of witnesses and presentation of evidence. Finally, the panel will review the submissions and deliver their judgment.

6. Appeals: If either party is unsatisfied with the tribunal’s decision, they can file for an appeal, but only on points of law and procedural errors.

Preparing for the Tribunal

1. Gather and organize all relevant documents: This includes employment contracts, HR policies and procedures, and any email exchanges pertinent to the dispute.

2. Arrange legal representation: Although not mandatory, having legal representation will ensure your case is presented professionally and efficiently.

3. Prepare witness statements: Clear and concise statements from important witnesses can be a critical aspect of a successful case.

4. Conduct thorough research: Understand the laws and regulations governing your specific dispute, and be prepared to reference these during the hearing.


School employment tribunals can be stressful for both the claimant and respondent. By understanding the process and adequately preparing for the hearing, both parties increase their chances of reaching a fair resolution. It is essential to approach these legal proceedings with diligence and professionalism to ensure a just outcome.

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