Information on fitness to train to teach
Important Notes for Applicants: Health Questionnaire (fitness to train to teach) Clearance for Teacher Training courses
The offer of a place on a teacher training course at Newman University may be dependent on you passing further examinations and having a Disclosure and Barring Service Disclosure. The place is definitely conditional on you being medically cleared as ‘fit to train to teach’ as required by the Department for Education (DfE) and those training to become teachers need a high standard of physical and mental fitness to enter or remain in the teaching profession. Teaching is a demanding career and teachers have a duty of care towards the pupils in their charge. Newman University is required to assess the physical and mental fitness of all prospective applicants to teacher training courses. In addition, any applicant accepted onto a teacher training course whose health or behaviour subsequently becomes a matter of concern to academic or placement school staff will be asked to undergo a further ‘fitness to teach’.
As a first stage to assessing ‘fitness to train to teach’, you will be asked to complete an online health questionnaire when you receive an offer of a place from us. Questionnaires are treated in strict confidence and are kept in secure conditions.
If your physical or mental fitness requires professional medical assessment, your form will be referred to the Occupational Health Department of Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham. The OHD may speak to you by telephone, seek your permission to approach a GP or specialist or invite you for an assessment by a doctor or nurse at the Department. You should respond as quickly as possible so that medical clearance can be obtained before you need to enrol at the University.
Will you be ‘fit to train to teach’?
If you are generally well and have no health problems, the answer is, of course, ‘yes’. And for those applicants who do have a health condition, most of the time the answer is ‘yes’ as well. Many people with disabilities and chronic illnesses may be ‘fit to train to teach’: we do not make judgements on the condition, but on how it affects the individual’s capacity to meet the demands of teaching. In deciding whether you are ‘fit to train to teach’, the OHD will consider whether you:
- Have the health and well-being necessary to deal with specific types of teaching and associated duties
- Are able to communicate effectively with children, parents and colleagues
- Possess sound judgement and insight
- Remain alert at all times
- Can respond to pupils’ needs rapidly and effectively
- Are able to manage classes
- Do not constitute any risk to the health, safety or well-being of children in your care
- Can, if necessary, be enabled by reasonable adjustment to meet these criteria.
Conditions which may affect ‘fitness to train to teach’
There is no ‘blanket list’ of conditions that are incompatible with teaching; each applicant is considered individually. However, you should be aware that some conditions make a career in teaching unlikely. These include:
- Schizophrenic disorders
- Bi Polar Affective Disorder
- Severe or recurrent depression
- Severe or prolonged anxiety disorders
- Moderate to major degree of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Infectious Tuberculosis
Many other progressive, chronic and acute conditions are likely to need careful assessment.
Once the Occupational Health Department has made its assessment, you will be placed in one of three categories:
- Fit to train to teach: those who are in good health and free from any condition which might be likely to interfere with efficiency in teaching.
- Fit to train to teach with conditions: those who are generally in good health but who have conditions which are likely to interfere to some extent with their efficiency in teaching. The conditions are not serious enough to make the applicant totally unfit and this category includes those whose disability could require teacher training providers to make reasonable adjustment to enable them to provide effective and efficient teaching.
- Not fit to train to teach: those whose condition is such as to make them unfit for the teaching profession. Applicants will not normally be included in this category unless they have a psychiatric or physical disorder likely to interfere seriously with regular and efficient teaching or if they have a condition that may carry a risk to the safety or welfare of the pupils.
If you are assessed as ‘fit to teach with conditions’, the OHD will notify the University and your permission will be sought to reveal your condition to crucial staff in the University like your academic support tutor, the school placement officer and the University’s Inclusion Co-ordinator. These staff will be there to offer you support and help in successfully completing your course.
In the unlikely event that the OHD find that you are ‘not fit to teach’, we will not be able to confirm your teacher training place at Newman University. We understand that you will be very disappointed but the health and safety of pupils has to be of paramount importance. And it would not be in your best interests to let you train for a profession for which you are unfit. We will certainly consider offering you a place at the University on one of our non-teacher training courses.
You should understand that failure to disclose a condition which affects the ‘fitness to train to teach’ assessment or giving false information may lead to you being required to leave your course.