Fitness to teach

The Fitness to Teach questionnaire is a compulsory part of the admissions process for all Teacher Training courses

Introduction

Due to the vocational nature of teaching courses and recognising that the fundamental principles of the profession of a teacher is the care and protection of children “in loco parentis”, it is a requirement under The Education Act (2002) for the health of all applicants to teaching courses to be assessed. The standards used to assess against are specified in The Education (Health Standards) (England) Regulations 2003 and the Initial teacher training (ITT): criteria and supporting advice 2020.

The aim of the fitness to teach requirement is to ensure that a future teacher has both the physical and mental fitness to perform their duties without putting children and young people at risk.

However, we have a duty to ensure that health and safety or child protection requirements are not used to justify discrimination against a disabled student (Equality Act 2010). Each case will be looked at individually, on its merits and in the light of the particular circumstances.

Your questionnaire will enable us to make well-informed decisions about your fitness to teach, to consider any reasonable adjustments that may be necessary, and to ensure that all agreed adjustments and support are in place at the beginning of your programme/placement.

Frequently asked questions

How do I complete the Fitness to Teach Questionnaire?

The Bath Spa University Admissions team will send you the Fitness to Teach questionnaire via email once you have a conditional offer for a place on a relevant course.

Why do I have to complete a Fitness to Teach Questionnaire before I start a Teacher Training course?

All applicants for teacher training must complete a Fitness to Teach assessment to ensure that they meet the legal requirements to teach. Teachers, and those training to become teachers, need a high standard of physical and mental fitness to enter the teaching profession. Teaching is a demanding career and teachers have a duty of care towards the pupils in their charge. The health, education, safety and welfare of pupils, is taken into account when your Fitness to Teach Questionnaire is assessed.

The reasons for addressing the issue of medical fitness to teach centre around the following requirements:

  •  To ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of teachers
  • To ensure the health, safety, well-being and educational progress of students
  • To manage any risk to the health of teachers which may arise from their teaching duties including ensuring that those duties do not exacerbate pre existing health problems
  • To ensure the health and safety of other teachers and support staff is not adversely affected by a colleague being medically unfit
  • To enable all, including those with disabilities, who wish to pursue a career in teaching, to achieve their potential within the bounds of reasonable adjustment.

When do I have to complete it?

Please complete the Fitness to Teach questionnaire as soon as possible. It can take up to eight weeks for clearance to be received by Bath Spa University, so please ensure you apply well in advance of your course start date.

Applicants will receive email confirmation once the University has been notified that their fitness to teach has been cleared. 

Please note that you will not be able to enrol or start your course/school placement unless you have completed this questionnaire and you have been officially declared fit to teach.

Who gets my information?

Your answers are confidential and your completed questionnaire is assessed by Bath Spa University’s Medical Service, Fairfield Park Health Centre and where relevant, the Occupational Health Team at Royal United Hospital. Information is shared to enable consistency between all parties. 

The information you provide and any information collected in reference to your Fitness to Teach assessment may be shared with the following parties during the assessment process:

  • The applicant/student
  • Student and Registry Services at Bath Spa University
  • Student Wellbeing Service at Bath Spa University (where relevant)
  • Fairfield Park Health Centre
  • Royal United Hospital (where relevant)
  • Applicants/students own General Practitioner and/or specialists (where relevant)
  • Academic Staff (where relevant)
  • Partnerships Manager and Partnership Office. 

Information about you will not be shared with third parties without your consent unless the law allows this, or there is a serious risk to life.

What happens if I don’t complete my Fitness to Teach questionnaire?

You must complete the Fitness to Teach questionnaire prior to starting your course at Bath Spa University. The University has a responsibility to partnership schools and the pupils attending those schools that our trainees on placement are fit to train to teach and where appropriate, have in place reasonable adjustments to manage the impact of any disability, medical condition, or mental health issue on their teaching. You must meet all conditions of entry before you can be fully registered on your course.

In addition, if you are not fully registered you will not be eligible to receive any funding – including the ITT bursary from the National College for Teaching and Leadership (for PGCE students) and all loans and grants from Student Finance England or other relevant funding body.

The Fitness to Teach assessment is a compulsory compliance check for admission to a teaching course. If you fail to satisfy this condition, you will be withdrawn from the admissions process/your studies.

What does the assessment involve and what could the outcome be?

The information contained within your Fitness to Teach questionnaire will be assessed by a Medical Officer at Fairfield Health Centre and where necessary the Occupational Health Team at the Royal United Hospital and/or your own GP and/or consultant/specialist. In some circumstances you may be asked to attend a medical assessment.

Assessment categories

The final outcome will be assigned one of the following categories:

Category A: Those who have no medical conditions and have been assessed as having the health and physical capacity to teach.

Category B: Those who have a minor condition, such as mild asthma or allergies, but have the health and physical capacity to teach. Reasonable adjustments will not be required for them to provide effective and efficient teaching.

Or those who have the health and physical capacity to teach, but suffer from conditions which are likely to interfere to some extent with their efficiency in teaching either all subjects or certain specified subjects. These conditions are not serious enough to make the candidate unsuitable for the teaching profession but may require reasonable adjustments to be made to enable them to provide effective and efficient teaching.

Category C: Those whose condition means that they do not have the health and physical capacity to teach or cannot execute the activities that a teacher must be able to perform or who may put children and young people at risk of harm.

Communication

Depending on your assessment outcome, you will receive one of the following from Bath Spa University:

Category A: Confirmation that you have been declared Fit to Teach

Category B: Confirmation that you have been declared Fit to Teach, and that your details will be passed to the Student Wellbeing Team here at Bath Spa University. They will assist with any reasonable adjustments required with training or placements.

Category C: Confirmation that you have been assessed as not Fit to Teach. Applicants will be able to resubmit a new questionnaire after appropriate medical treatment, and/or recovery. They will be required to submit with their application a satisfactory current medical report.

What happens if I don’t disclose a disability, long-term medical condition, or mental health issue?

Under the Health & Safety at Work Act (1974) individuals have a responsibility to take reasonable care of their own and other people’s health and safety at work. In addition, schools, academies, colleges and institutions have a statutory responsibility for ‘safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people’ Education Act (2002).

If you have a disability, long-term medical condition, or mental health issue which has a bearing on your occupational health, you are required to disclose these on the Fitness to Teach questionnaire. If you decline to disclose a condition which affects your fitness to teach, or give false information then it may result in your withdrawal from the course. On a more practical level it also prevents you from accessing any support that you would be legally entitled to during your training under the (Equality Act 2010). According to this legislation, the University is required to make reasonable adjustments to support any students disclosing a disability, long term medical condition, or mental health issue.

What happens if I do disclose a disability, long-term medical condition, or mental health issue?

If you have a disability, medical condition, or mental health issue then it’s possible that the Medical Officer will request further medical evidence of your condition from your GP or Consultant and refer you to the Occupational Health Team at RUH for further assessment before a final decision is made. This is an opportunity to identify support needs or reasonable adjustments, which may be required. 

By providing as much information and detail within the Fitness to Teach questionnaire on any health condition and/or medication, you will assist Fairfield Health Centre to confirm your Fitness to Teach outcome swiftly, without the need to request additional information or referring your assessment for further information or checks.

What kind of support can I access?

The support you can access will depend on your individual circumstances, so you should liaise with the Student Wellbeing Team at Bath Spa University about your needs. You may also be eligible for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs).

Examples of the type of support available are as follows:

  • Help with travel costs if you are unable to use public transport
  • Assistive technology software
  • Specialist ergonomic equipment
  • Sessions with one-to-one study skills support tutors or specialist mentors.

What if my health circumstances change after I have submitted my Fitness to Teach questionnaire?

If there is a change in your health or wellbeing after you have completed your Fitness to Teach Questionnaire and/or have been passed fit to teach with or without adaptations (e.g. you are subsequently diagnosed with a long-term serious medical condition), you should contact ttc@bathspa.ac.uk in the first instance so that we can advise you of the next process.

If relevant you will need to complete a new Fitness to Teach questionnaire which will be re-referred to the Medical Officer at Fairfield Health Centre for assessment. Further reports may be required from a GP or consultant/specialist and you may be referred for an Occupational Health assessment, which will enable us to advise and support you based on your new circumstances.

Are there any conditions which will automatically prevent me from pursuing an Initial Teacher Training course?

There is no specific list of conditions incompatible with teaching.

Advice for filling out the Fitness to Teach questionnaire

  • Please complete the questionnaire and answer all questions as thoroughly as possible, even if you have not disclosed it before in the application/admissions process. 
  • Please complete the questionnaire well in advance of your course, as it may take up to eight weeks for results to reach Bath Spa University, and you will need this in place in order to start your course.
  • It is the role of an independent Medical Officer (MO), at Fairfield Park Surgery, Bath to make the health assessment, and not your General Practitioner (GP), although the MO will work closely with other services (as appropriate) in reaching a decision on fitness to teach.
  • By completing the online questionnaire, you are consenting to information being held and processed by Bath Spa University, Fairfield Park Surgery (FPS) and the Royal United Hospital (RUH) where relevant, as the occupational health provider to Bath Spa University. If required, the information you provide within this questionnaire will also form the basis of your occupational health record.  Any information you provide will be dealt with in a confidential manner and in line with General Data Protection Regulations.
  • By completing the questionnaire you are stating that the answers to all the questions asked are true and complete to the best of your knowledge and belief and that you understand that making false statements or failure to declare a health problem could lead to you being withdrawn at any stage of your application/course.
  • It is extremely important that your personal details are correct when completing the online form, in particular your email address and phone numbers, to ensure that this clearance process is efficient. During the process it is advisable to monitor your spam/junk folder as any correspondence may be automatically diverted into this folder. It is your responsibility to ensure that you cooperate with all Occupational Health procedures, attending appointments that are arranged or rearranging as appropriate.  You will be responsible for any charges relating to non-attendance at occupational health appointments.

Important

Any applicant with an offer for a Teacher Training course who has not been cleared as ‘Fit to Teach’ by the beginning of the course will not be allowed to register and may have their offer of a place rescinded. 

If you would like to discuss any aspect of this questionnaire in confidence, please send an email to Teacher Training Compliance Checks ttc@bathspa.ac.uk

Relevant policies

This process guidance is designed to complement the University’s Regulations and any relevant policies. 

Bath Spa University policies.

Contact us

Please email Teacher Training Checks if you have any questions.

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