The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

General Teaching Council for Scotland Fitness to Teach Panel Outcome

Full Hearing

11, 18 and 19 December 2017

                 
Teacher Michael Gaffney
Registration number 910323
Registration category Secondary – History and Modern Studies
Legal assessor Julie McKinlay
Panel members John Kilpatrick, Arthur Stewart and Miriam Zziwa
Presenting Officer Natalie McCartney, Anderson Strathern LLP (Laura Bowen –observing on Day 1)
Teacher’s Representative Jamie Foulis, Balfour & Manson LLP

Any reference in this decision to:

  • “GTCS” means the General Teaching Council for Scotland;
  • the “Panel” means the Fitness to Teach Panel considering the case;
  • the “Rules” (and any related expression) means the GTCS Fitness to Teach Rules 2017 or refers to a provision (or provisions) within them; and
  • the “Register” means the GTCS register of teachers

Preliminary issues

The Teacher made the following applications which were dealt with by the Panel as preliminary issues.

  1. Teacher’s application for late papers to be allowed
  2. Teacher’s application for part of the hearing to be held in private

Late papers

At the hearing the Teacher’s representative sought to lodge (i) a signed copy of the statement of the Teacher; (ii) the results of XXXXX XXXXXX tests for November 2017; (iii) correspondence from the attendees of XXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXX meetings which confirm the attendance of the Teacher at these meetings and (iv) documents which form character references for the Teacher.

The Teacher’s representative advised the Panel that he did not consider the later papers to be controversial in nature. They had been supplied to the Presenting Officer six days before the hearing. The statement was simply the signed version of the statement of the Teacher and the XXXX XXXXXXXX tests simply brought matters up to date. The content of the other documents was not controversial. The application was not opposed by the Presenting Officer.

The Panel had regard to the GTCS Practice Statement on Fact-Finding in Fitness to Teach Panel Conduct Hearings which requires the Panel to hear from both parties and to consider the explanation as to why the evidence is being submitted late. In the interests of fairness and on the basis that the Presenting Officer was not opposed to the documents being received into evidence, had been provided with copies well in advance of today’s hearing and the fact that there was no suggestion that the allowance of them would cause detriment, the Panel decided to allow the documents to be submitted.

Privacy

The Teacher’s representative made an application for aspects of the evidence to be heard in private. In particular, the Teacher’s representative requested that paragraphs 6, 11, 13 and 14 of the statement of the Teacher; paragraph 5 of the statement of MLT, paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 of the statement of MS and the entire evidence of Dr SP be heard in private. This evidence related to the health and private life of the Teacher. The Teacher’s representative submitted that the evidence in question was of a private and sensitive nature.

The Teacher’s representative referred the Panel to Rule 1.7.3 and to the Conducting Hearings In Private Practice Statement. The representative made specific reference to page 3 of the Practice Statement, where it is provided that intimate or sensitive details of the physical or mental health of a Teacher may justify holding part or all of the hearing in private.

The Teacher’s representative also requested that, although he thought it unlikely, in the event that the Panel considered it was necessary to make reference in any written decision to the names of individuals providing evidence as to the attendance of the Teacher at XXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXX meetings, that the identity of the individuals providing such evidence be anonymised. This is appropriate given the nature of the organisation and the reasons that those individuals would be in attendance at such meetings.

The Presenting Officer had no objection to the evidence of the physical and mental health of the Teacher being heard in private.

In reaching its decision, the Panel considered rules 1.7.2 and 1.7.3 as well as the Conducting Hearings in Private Practice Statement. The starting point was rule 1.7.2, which sets out that hearings will be held in public. This is the default position. However, rule 1.7.3 provides that:

A Panel may, at any stage of proceedings on its own initiative or on application to it, make an order with a view to preventing or restricting the public disclosure of any aspect of proceedings. A Panel may do this so far as it considers it necessary where it is satisfied … that it is in the interests of justice to do so and the particular circumstances of the case outweigh the interests of the Teacher and the public in the hearing being held in public…

Such orders may include (but will not be limited to) –

  1. An order that a hearing be conducted (in whole or in part) in private;
  2. An order that identities of specified parties, witnesses or other persons referred to in the proceedings should not be disclosed at such proceedings to the public (by the use of anonymisation or otherwise) and whether before, during or after those proceedings;..”

The Practice Statement makes it clear that it is for the Panel to decide whether all or part of a hearing should be held in private, but that such a decision must be justified by exception where it serves the interests of justice better than a hearing in public would. The Practice Statement makes it clear that the decision of a Panel that all or part of a hearing should be held in private must be consistent with Article 6(1) of the ECHR. It might be appropriate for a private hearing application to be allowed where the protection of the private life of the parties so requires. The Panel was clear that it must be satisfied that it is in the interests of justice to do so and the particular circumstances of the case outweigh the interests of the Teacher and the public in the hearing being held in public.

The Panel decided that part of the hearing should be heard in private insofar as it relates to the physical and mental health of the Teacher and in particular, paragraphs 6, 11, 13 and 14 of the statement of the Teacher; paragraph 5 of the statement of MLT, paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 of the statement of MS and the entire evidence of Dr SP. The Panel was satisfied that there was a need to protect the privacy and confidentiality of the Teacher as regards his XXXXXXXX XXX XXXXXX health and that the interests of the public in those aspects of the hearing being in public were outweighed. The evidence constituted intimate and sensitive details of the health of the Teacher and the protection of the private life of the Teacher with regard to that evidence only required that part of the hearing be held in private.

On Day 2 of the Full Hearing, a member of the press was in attendance. The Teacher’s representative made a further application for the submissions on behalf of the Teacher in relation to the fitness to teach (stage 2) to be heard by the Panel in private. This was on the basis that a substantial aspect of the submission concerned the health of the Teacher.

The Presenting Officer stated that she could make her submission in public. The representative of the press present was invited to express a view on the application. The representative stated that the submissions should be made in public.

The Panel considered that it had already determined, and for the reasons already set out, that the hearing as regards the health of the Teacher ought to be heard in private. However, there was no basis upon which any submissions which did not directly concern the health of the Teacher should not be heard in public. This was in accordance with the default position in terms of rule 1.7.2 and there was no basis upon which the interests of the public in the matter being heard in public had been outweighed in the circumstances. The Panel, accordingly, determined that the submissions should be heard in public but for those matters relating directly to the XXXXXX XX physical health of the Teacher.

Allegation

The following allegation was considered at the hearing:

Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 S39 (1) - Racial Prejudice

And on 12 August 2016, you were sentenced to a Community Payback Order including 240 hours of unpaid work to be completed within 6 months.

In light of the above it is alleged that your fitness to teach is impaired and that you are unfit to teach as a result of breaching sections 1.3, 1.4 and 1.6 and 5.3 of the Copac.

Teacher’s admissions

The Teacher admitted the facts set out in the allegation above. The Teacher also admitted that his fitness to teach is impaired but did not admit that he is unfit to teach.

Hearing papers

In accordance with Rule 1.7.17, the Panel admitted all of the documents and statements listed below as evidence for the purposes of the hearing:

Presenting Officer’s hearing papers

P1 Notice of Presenting Officer’s case form – completed 21 August 2017

P2 Copy Extract Conviction from Greenock Sheriff Court, dated 27 April 2017, in relation to offence committed by Michael Gaffney

P3 Copy Complaint in the case of the Procurator Fiscal v Michael Gaffney

P4 Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 S39 (1) - Racial Prejudice

P5 Crime and Disorder Act 1998, Section 96

Teacher’s hearing papers

T1 Teacher’s Notice of Hearing Response Form

T2 Unsigned statement of Mr Gaffney

T3 Letter from Aidan Gallagher & Co to Mr Gaffney dated 26 August 2016

T4 Letter from Dr CK dated 02 August 2016

T5 Letter from Dr TS to Mr MC dated 28 May 2015

T6 Chronology of events by LG

T7 Extract Decree of Divorce dated 17 July 2017

T8 Letter from Police Scotland to Mr Gaffney dated 11 January 2016

T9 Letter from Dr FM to Dr B faxed on 23 July 2015

T10 Letter from Dr FM to Dr B dated 8 May 2015

T11 Letter from GM dated 01 August 2016

T12 List of side effects of medication

T13 Letter from PB to Dr BF

T14 Criminal Justice Social Work Report dated 11 August 2016

T15 Letter from KL to Jamie Foulis, Balfour+Manson dated 13 October 2016

T16 Email from KL to Jamie Foulis, Balfour+Manson dated 03 February 2017

T17 Letter from RB to Mr Gaffney dated 19 September 2016

T18 Letter to Jamie Foulis, Balfour & Manson, dated 05 October 2016

T19 Letter to Mr Gaffney dated 06 October 2016

T20 Letter from LH dated 16 May 2017

T21 List of appointments at Wellpark Centre

T22 Updated report by LH dated 21 July 2017

T23 Medical report by Dr FG dated 12 September 2017

T24 Test results for Mr Gaffney dated 20 July 2017

T25 Letter from Dr FG to Jamie Foulis, Balfour & Manson, dated 13 November 2017

T26 Expert Witness Statement, signed by Dr MP dated 28 November 2017

T27 Medical Report finalised 14 July 2017

T28 Medical Report: Update, finalised 24 November 2017

T29 Email from Dr ZL to Jamie Foulis, Balfour & Manson, dated 20 September 2017

T30 Letter from Dr ZL to Jamie Foulis, Balfour & Manson, dated 21 November 2017

T31 Statement from AG

T32 Fact File Introduction

T33 Photographs of Mr Gaffney with his mother

T34 Photographs from "Show Racism the Red Card" outing for children organised by Mr Gaffney

T35 Photograph of Mr Gaffney participating in running event

T36 Show Racism the Red Card – Certification of Participation to Ardnamurchan High School

T37 Statement of PM dated 07 November 2017

T38 Character Reference from PM and WM

T39 Statement of MLT dated 23 September 2017

T40 Character reference from MLT dated 07 September 2016

T41 Statement of RA dated 12 September 2017

T42 Character reference from RA

T43 Statement of KB dated 23 September 2017

T44 Character reference from KB

T45 Statement of MS dated 18 September 2017

T46 Character reference from MS dated 15 September 2016

T47 Signed statement of Michael Gaffney (late paper)

T48 Test results from November 2017 (late paper)

T49 Email from AO dated 29 November 2017 (late paper)

T50 Email and letter from ARG dated 2 December 2017 (late paper)

T51 Reference from MT (late paper)

T52 Reference from AS (late paper)

T53 Reference from EG (late paper)

Servicing Officer’s hearing papers

S1 Notification of Full Hearing dated 13 November 2017 along with email delivery and read receipts

Findings of fact on allegation

The Presenting Officer produced a copy of the criminal complaint and a copy of the extract conviction for the Panel.

Having regard to the provisions of Rule 1.7.18 and 1.7.21 and the fact that the Teacher admitted the allegation, the Panel found that the facts set out in the allegation were proved.

Given the Teacher’s admissions, the Panel also found that the Teacher’s fitness to teach is impaired but went on to hear evidence in relation to his fitness to teach, in order to determine whether or not he is currently unfit to teach.

Findings on fitness to teach

Given that the Panel found the facts set out in the allegation proved, the Panel invited the parties to lead evidence and make submissions in relation to the Teacher’s fitness to teach.

The Panel heard oral evidence from the Teacher, Dr SP, MS and MLT and a summary of that oral evidence is set out below.

The Teacher

The Teacher explained the circumstances which led to the conviction. The Panel considered that the Teacher gave his evidence in an open and honest way and was credible throughout, even when discussing matters which were clearly difficult for him. The Teacher explained that he had had issues with XXXXXXX XXX XXX XXXXX health for many years but his health was of particular acute concern during the period in which the offence occurred. He suffered from XXXXXXX XXX XXXXXX XXXXXXXXX and had XXXXX XXXXXXX. He could not leave the house and was taking various medications to relieve symptoms. He said that he had been prone to excessive rumination on the actions of his wife which led him to feeling XXXXXXXX unwell. He began to use XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXX as a coping mechanism. His mother was and remains unwell. The Teacher had been advised by his XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXX XX XXXXX XXXX XXX XXXXX XXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX XXX XXXX XXX XXXXX XX X XXXXX XX XXXXXX XXXX XXXX XXX XXXX.

The Teacher invited the Panel to take the view that the behaviour which led to the conviction was completely out of character for him. In particular the Panel was invited to conclude that he was not racist. He explained that his grandchildren, whom he adores, are of Afro Caribbean heritage. The Teacher said that he was appalled by his behaviour and he was sorry that he had upset and alarmed the victims involved. He wished he could turn the clock back. The Teacher explained that he had been involved in various projects with school pupils in relation to matters of equality and diversity. The Teacher spoke of the changes he has made to his life since the offence. The Teacher has been involved with sports, playing 5 aside football, running and swimming. He has been caring for his mother and working with the local hospice. The Teacher attends XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX meetings two or three times per week. He has had a number of sessions with LH, XX XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX. He has worked with Dr ZL, a XXXXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXX in relation to mindfulness and positive thinking. The Teacher has not had XX XXXXXXXX XXXXX since 20 October 2017. He has a very supportive family and friends. The Teacher has separated and is now divorced from his wife.

The Teacher has not taught in a classroom for 18 months. His last teaching experience was when he had a period of phased return to work between February and July 2016. The Teacher expressed a passion for teaching in the ASN sector. The Teacher was adamant that he would not act in the same way again and described the events as a perfect storm of personal and XXXXXX health difficulties. He has been provided with excellent professional and personal support. He stated that he would not XXXXX again and accepted that he was XX XXXXXXXXX. The Teacher would be happy to accept any conditions which the Panel sought to impose to allow him to return to teaching. The Teacher accepted that the conviction related to very serious matters. The Teacher considered that he was not 100% well but that he was confident he would not regress and that the final “piece of the jigsaw” was a return to work.

Witness Dr SP

The Panel had the benefit of two reports from Dr SP, a XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXX, as well his oral evidence. Dr SP met the Teacher on two occasions and had access to his medical records. Dr SP expressed the view that the likelihood of repetition of the conduct which gave rise to the offence was fairly low. Dr SP stated that the Teacher had shown the appropriate regret and shame over the incident and he had seen a marked change in the Teacher, which suggested that he had moved forward in his overall health and his coping style and he was at lower risk of finding himself in a difficult XXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXX. Dr SP had recommended that the Teacher attend XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX as XXXXXXX XXX and XXXXXXXXX XXXXXX had become his primary coping mechanism and the environment of XXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX can be useful for people to break such patterns of behaviour. Dr SP also stated that the Teacher had a supportive family and that this support could be a key protective factor against relapse.

The Teacher had engaged with XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXX and it would be a matter for the treating XXXXXXXXXXXX to specify the level of professional support that would be appropriate on an ongoing basis. Dr SP considered the risk of XXXXXXX XX XXXXXX XXX to be low provided the supports that the Teacher had remained in place, including a degree of professional support. He considered the fact that the Teacher was no longer in a relationship with his wife to be a positive factor. Dr SP considered that the Teacher was some way through his recovery. The Teacher would need a good support structure in any school and a degree of autonomy to set the pace and tempo of work. Dr SP had seen a marked improvement in the Teacher between the two meetings. The Teacher had better colour and was more animated and there were improvements in his functioning. Dr SP agreed that there was lots of evidence to link the benefits of physical exercise to improved XXXXXX health.

Witness MS

MS is the Teacher’s sister. She has been a Teacher for 42 years. MS said that the Teacher was the most caring and compassionate person she knew. She explained that the family had paid for him to have treatment at XXX XXXXXX, such was their concern as to his levels of XXXXXXX. Other factors played a part, including the relationship with his wife, the XXXXX XX XXXXXX XX XXX XXX XXXXX and the responsibility of being a good father and grandfather. Their mother is ill and the Teacher has always been very close to her. MS described him as a man devoted to his family. She was shocked by the offence and she did not consider that he would ever act in that way again.

Witness MLT

MLT is the Teacher’s sister. She is also a retired Teacher. MLT spoke well of her brother and described him as a kind, considerate and compassionate person. She was clear that the offence concerned a very serious matter but she described the events as entirely out of character for him. She explained that the Teacher had suffered from XXXXXX XXX XXXXXXXXXX from childhood when XXXXX XXXXXX XXXX but that he had managed this over the years. She said that at the time of the offence a “perfect storm of adverse circumstances engulfed him”. She said that the Teacher accepted what he did and is extremely remorseful. He had been a teacher for 26 years and she hoped that he would be permitted to return to the profession he loves. She felt that he had made terrible mistakes when ill but was basically a good man and an excellent teacher. She described him as being better now and that he had addressed his issues “head on”.

Decision

The Panel gave careful consideration to all of the evidence presented and submissions made by the parties in relation to the Teacher’s fitness to teach. The Panel addressed the relevant considerations in relation to the Teacher’s fitness to teach, as outlined in the GTCS Indicative Outcomes Guidance.

The Panel took as its starting point the fact that the Teacher had accepted that his fitness to teach is impaired. The Panel first considered whether the conduct fell short of the GTCS Code of Professionalism and Conduct (COPAC) at the time. The Panel carefully considered the parts of COPAC that it had been alleged the Teacher had breached, which were:

  • you should avoid situations both within and outwith the professional context which could be in breach of the criminal law, or may call into question your fitness to teach (1.3)
  • you must uphold standards of personal and professional conduct, honesty and integrity so that the public have confidence in you as a teacher and teaching as a profession (1.4)
  • you should maintain an awareness that as a teacher you are a role model to pupils (1.6)
  • you should maintain an awareness that as a teacher you are a role model to pupils (1.6)
  • recognise that you are a role model and therefore should be aware of the potentially serious impact which any demonstration by you of intolerance or prejudice could have upon your standing as a teacher and your fitness to teach (5.3)

The Panel concluded that the Teacher had breached Parts 1.3, 1.4, 1.6 and 5.3 of COPAC. The Teacher had been convicted of a serious criminal offence which called into question his fitness to teach. The Teacher had acted in breach of the criminal law in a manner which was racially aggravated. The Teacher’s conduct and consequent conviction undermined public confidence in him as a teacher and teaching as a profession. By acting in the way he did, the Teacher had failed to act as a positive role model to pupils and ought to have been aware that any demonstration of intolerance could have an impact on his standing as a teacher. The Panel considered that the serious nature of the conviction meant that the Teacher’s fitness to teach at the time fell significantly short of the standards expected of a registered teacher.

The Panel next considered whether the conduct was remediable, had been remedied and whether there was a likelihood of reoccurrence. The Panel was of the view that the conduct was not of a type that could never be remedied. In the Panel’s view, there were steps that could be taken in order to remedy the conduct.

In assessing whether the conduct had been remedied and whether there was a risk of reoccurrence, the Panel accepted the Teacher’s evidence. The Panel found the Teacher to be a credible and reliable witness albeit one who at times appeared more confident as to the stage he had reached in his recovery than the medical evidence suggested. He was candid in his answers to questioning and provided detailed and insightful responses into the factors leading to his conviction and what he had done. The Teacher did not seek to avoid taking responsibility for his actions. The Panel noted that the Teacher was particularly distressed at the idea that the public would consider that he was racist in his views although he accepted that he had been convicted of a racially aggravated offence.

The Panel accepted Dr SP’s evidence. The Panel accepted that Dr SP had met with the Teacher and was appropriately placed to form a view and provide a professional opinion on the Teacher’s current XXXXXX health, his XXXXXX health at the time of the offence and also the likelihood of reoccurrence.

The Panel accepted all of the other evidence including the evidence of all of the other witnesses, testimonials and documents provided by the Teacher. The Panel noted that evidence had been provided by members of the Teacher’s family. However, the Panel concluded that his family members would be in a good position to understand the impact of the Teacher’s XXXXXXX and XXXXXX health issues and the steps he had taken since to address his issues XXXX XXXXXX.

The family members were also teachers who understood the significance of providing evidence to the GTCS and were able to speak generally as to the Teacher’s passion for his work and the fact that there had been no previous conduct of the type detailed in the criminal complaint and none since.

The Panel accepted the explanation provided by the Teacher for the offending behaviour. Whilst the conviction covered a seven month period, the Panel concluded that the behaviour was isolated in that it had occurred during a period of intense personal trauma, arising from a genuine belief that his wife had XXXX XXXXX (which the Teacher later discovered was untrue), the discovery that, in fact, his wife had XXX XXX XXXXXX XX XXX XXXXXXXXX XX XXXXX XXXXXXX as well as serious issues with his XXXXXX health and an unhealthy reliance XX XXXXXXX as a coping mechanism. The Panel was satisfied that the Teacher had demonstrated genuine insight into and remorse for his conduct. The Teacher expressed remorse and insight into the impact that his behaviour must have had on the victims and accepted that it was serious. He had fully complied with his sentence and completed it without issue.

The Teacher had taken a number of steps to address the conduct and to avoid repetition. The conduct was, in part, the result of relationship difficulties and the Teacher had taken the difficult decision to separate from his wife and is now divorced. He has sought support in respect of XXXXXX XXXXXXXX XXXX XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXX provided by LH and subsequently with attendance at XXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX meetings. He has not had XX XXXXXXXX XXXX XXX XX XXXX XXXX and stated in evidence that he did not intend to return to XXXXXXXX XXXXXX. The Teacher has engaged successfully with a range of support services. The Teacher has been attending XXXXXXXX XXXXXXXX, has a support network of friends and family, has taken up exercise including football, walking and running, as well as being active in supporting the care of his mother and in his community by assisting at the hospice. In the Panel’s view, the Teacher was unlikely to repeat the conduct which led to the conviction. He had the necessary support of family and friends and XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX and had made the necessary changes in his life which would make the risk of repetition low. The offence was in 2015 and there had been no repetition of the conduct since.

The Panel accepted the range of positive references and testimonials from the Teacher’s present and former colleagues, friends and family. This evidence supported the conclusion that there had been no similar conduct at any time prior to the criminal complaint or since, lending weight to the Panel’s conclusion that the conduct arose as a result of the unique and challenging circumstances faced by the Teacher. A number of witnesses also spoke to the steps taken by the Teacher to address his XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX and XXXXXX health issues.

The Panel placed weight on the evidence of Dr SP who assessed the Teacher as a low risk of repetition of the conduct. This was supported by the assessment contained within the Criminal Justice Social Work Report compiled on 11 August 2016, which stated that he had been assessed “as at a low risk of reoffending”. Dr SP noted that the Teacher’s XXXXXXXXXX health had improved markedly by the time of his second meeting in November 2017, his mood was brighter and he looked healthier. Dr SP stated that the Teacher had “made significant strides in addressing his XXXXX health issues and getting his life back on track”. The view of Dr SP was that he was at low risk of repeating the conduct which led to the conviction. The Teacher had attended sessions with Dr ZL, XXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXX, who believed that the Teacher had made good progress in a short period of time. The Teacher also attends his GP for treatment for his XXXXX health.

For all of the above reasons, the Panel concluded that the Teacher had done all that he could to remedy the conduct and posed a low risk of reoccurrence.

Despite this conclusion, the Panel finally considered the public interest and whether, nonetheless, the public interest demanded a finding that the Teacher is unfit to teach. The Panel considered each of the public interest factors set out in the GTCS Indicative Outcomes Guidance and reminded itself of the importance of the public interest in regulatory proceedings.

Having concluded that the Teacher had remedied the conduct and posed a low risk of reoccurrence, the Panel was of the view that a finding of him being unfit to teach was not required in order to protect the public or pupils. The Panel placed significant weight on the fact that, whilst the Teacher’s conviction was very serious and racially aggravated, the Teacher had not harmed or placed at risk of harm any pupil or child at any time.

The Panel carefully considered whether a finding of the Teacher being unfit to teach was required in order to maintain public confidence in the teaching profession or GTCS as the regulatory body. This issue was finely balanced. The Panel concluded that the Teacher’s conduct was extremely serious and of a kind that would normally be expected to lead to a finding that the Teacher is unfit to teach. This was because the public expect teachers to act within the law and the Teacher’s conviction seriously undermined public confidence in him as a teacher and brought the profession into disrepute. Whilst the Teacher had brought the profession into disrepute, the conduct did not take place in the context of his role as a teacher and no pupils were placed at risk of harm as a result.

On balance, the Panel concluded that a fully informed public, taking a holistic view of the particular circumstances of this case, would understand why a finding of impairment could be made rather than a finding that the Teacher is unfit to teach. There were particular circumstances leading to the conduct which resulted in uncharacteristic behaviour on the part of the Teacher. Those circumstances had since changed and the Teacher had taken a range of steps and remedied his conduct.

Furthermore, the Panel was of the view that in order to sustain public confidence in GTCS as a regulator, each case must be seen to be fully considered based on its individual facts and circumstances and that Panels should be seen to act fairly and proportionately.

As a result, the Panel did not consider it necessary to make a finding that the Teacher is unfit to teach solely to protect the reputation of GTCS as a regulator or teaching as a profession.

The Panel concluded that, in the particular circumstances, a finding that the Teacher is unfit to teach was not required in order to act as a deterrent to other teachers. The conduct had been in breach of the criminal law and, as a result, a deterrent for such conduct already existed in criminal proceedings. Furthermore, having accepted that the offence arose from a unique set of circumstances and XX XXXXXXXXX, the Panel considered that making a finding of “unfitness to teach” for no reason other than to act as a deterrent would be inappropriate.

To conclude, the need to maintain public confidence in teaching as a profession and GTCS as a regulator were factors in favour of making a finding of unfitness to teach. However, on balance and taking a holistic view of the facts and circumstances of the case, the insight and remorse shown by the Teacher, the steps he had taken, and continued to take, to remedy the conduct, the Panel concluded that a finding of impairment would be sufficient to satisfy the public interest.

Accordingly, for the reasons set out above, the Panel determined that the Teacher’s fitness to teach is impaired but that he is not unfit to teach.

However, in reaching this decision, the Panel was clear that it should not be regarded as diminishing its view that the Teacher’s conduct at the time of the offence was wholly inappropriate and fell significantly short of the standards expected of a registered teacher. The Panel underlined the necessity for teachers to meet those standards at all times.

Disposal

As the Panel found that the Teacher’s fitness to teach is impaired, the Panel invited the parties to make submissions regarding disposal.

The Panel had regard to the evidence and submissions of the parties in considering the appropriate disposal. The Panel also had regard to the GTCS Indicative Outcomes Guidance and, in accordance with that guidance, considered the disposals in ascending order. The Panel noted that not every indicating factor need be present for that disposal to be considered appropriate.

The Panel first considered whether the disposal of Reprimand would be appropriate in this case. The Panel concluded that the conduct had not been an abuse of a position of trust nor had the conduct caused harm to a pupil or child. The Teacher had admitted the conduct, reflected on it and shown genuine insight and remorse. The conduct was isolated in that it related to a particular period and circumstance and the Teacher had no other convictions. Having regard to the evidence of Dr SP and the Criminal Justice Social Work Report, there was a low risk of reoccurrence of the conduct and the Panel accepted the evidence attesting to his good character and history. However, the Panel concluded that the nature of the conviction was too serious for a Reprimand to be imposed.

The Panel next considered whether a Conditional Registration Order would be appropriate. The Panel considered that it was possible to identify areas of the Teacher’s conduct that would be capable of being controlled by the imposition of conditions. The Teacher represented a low risk of harm. However, the Panel concluded that ongoing monitoring and control of the Teacher’s registration was required in order to satisfy public confidence in GTCS as a regulator. The Teacher had shown a willingness to comply with conditions. He stated in evidence that he would be willing to comply with any conditions the Panel considered appropriate and his representative confirmed that this was the case in his submissions on disposal. The Teacher had shown insight and had taken significant steps to remedy the conduct. The Panel was of the view that a further period of monitoring was required in order to ensure that the remediation of the Teacher’s conduct was sustained.

However, the Panel concluded that conditions alone would not sufficiently mark the seriousness of the conduct. The Panel concluded that a Conditional Registration Order and Reprimand would be appropriate and decided to impose both of these disposals for a period of 18 months.

The conditions identified by the Panel are set out in the attached Conditional Registration Order. The Panel was of the view that the conditions identified could be realistically complied with and the Teacher could be trusted to do so. The Panel noted that the Teacher had already provided confirmatory evidence regarding his attendance at XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX and the Panel was of the view that it would be possible for appropriate confirmation to be obtained going forward. In addition, the Teacher had already provided test results from a reporting XXXXXXXx XXXXXXX of an analysis of XXXXX XXXXX XXXXXX assessing whether there was any XXXXXXXX evidence of historic XXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXX over the last three months. The Panel considered that the Teacher could continue to provide such analysis on a regular basis.

The Panel considered the conditions identified to be proportionate and appropriate with reference to the conduct set out in the criminal complaint. The Panel was of the view that the ongoing monitoring of these aspects of the Teacher’s behaviour would ensure public confidence in him as a teacher, teaching as a profession and GTCS as the regulator. The Panel was satisfied that the conditions were measureable and directed at the Teacher.

The Panel was mindful that it had heard evidence on the need for the Teacher to access ongoing XXXXXXXXXXX support to sustain his improved XXXXXX health. The Teacher had experienced XXXXXX health difficulties and XXXXXXX and had previously sought appropriate support. It was not entirely clear from the evidence what exact treatment the Teacher would require on an ongoing basis and the Panel did not want to be overly prescriptive in this matter. Dr SP made some recommendations for ongoing treatment which had not changed from his earlier report in July 2017. He recommended that the Teacher seek out a suitably qualified and experienced XXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXX to improve XXX XXXXXX XXXX. The Panel noted that the Teacher had been supported by Dr ZL, who considered that some ongoing support would be appropriate. On that basis, the Panel decided not to impose specific conditions in relation to the treatment or support which the Teacher ought to access but wished to make it clear in this decision that they had an expectation that the Teacher would seek out appropriate support. Given the apparent sincerity and remorse shown by the Teacher, the Panel was satisfied that the Teacher would do so without the imposition of specific conditions.