The General Teaching Council for Scotland

General Teaching Council for Scotland Fitness to Teach Outcome

Panel Meeting

17 July

 Teacher Michael Gaffney - Not present (represented)
 Registration Number 910323
 Registration category Secondary, History
 Panel John Kilpatrick, Irene Kitson and Arthur Stewart
 Legal Assessor Julie McKinlay
 Servicing Officer Kirsty McIntosh
 Presenting Officer Natalie McCartney - Anderson Strathern LLP - not present
 Teacher's representative N/A

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 and Appeals Rules 2012 or refers to a provision (or provisions) within them

Background

The Panel Meeting was arranged to consider the following application made by the Teacher:

                For a review of the Conditional Registration Order (signed by the Teacher on 18 January 2018) imposed on the Teacher’s registration in terms of Rule 2.9 of the Rules.

Evidence

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 meeting:

  1. Papers from the CRO Review Panel Meeting held on 24 April 2019, including:
    1.  Teacher’s submissions with supporting documentation
    2.  Presenting Officer’s response to Teacher’s submissions
    3. Servicing Officer’s papers
    4. Full Hearing decision, dated 11, 18 and 19 December 2017
    5. Conditional Registration Order, signed 18 January 2018
  2. Decision from CRO Review Panel Meeting held on 24 April 2019
  3. Email from Teacher regarding Panel Meeting outcome, dated 16 May 2019
  4. Case Management Directions with cover email, dated 28 May 2019
  5. Email correspondence between Teacher and Presenting Officer, dated 20 and 21 June 2019
  6. Email to Teacher with final deadline, dated 4 July 2019
  7. Email correspondence between Teacher and GTCS Regulation and Legal Services Team
  8. Email from representative to Teacher regarding costs of testing, including emails:
    1. Email from [redacted] to representative regarding reduced cost, dated 22 March 2018
    2. Email from [redacted] to representative regarding test period, dated 24 January 2019

Decision

The Panel decided to continue and amend the Conditional Registration Order in accordance with rule 2.10.3 for the following reasons.

The Panel had regard to the evidence before them and to the relevant rules in reaching their decision.

In accordance with Rule 2.9.1 where a Teacher has been subject to a conditional registration order in accordance with a direction of a Panel and either party makes a written request for the order to be reviewed, revoked or revised, a hearing will be arranged to review the order. This rule is subject to Rule 2.9.4 where the parties may agree that a conditional registration order will be reviewed, revoked or revised by a Panel at a Panel Meeting based upon written representations. The parties agreed to proceed on the basis of written representations. The Panel also noted the decision of the CRO Review Panel Meeting dated 24 April 2019 in which the Panel sought additional information to allow a decision to be made in relation to the application of the Teacher. Further information was provided by the parties. The Panel considered that it had sufficient information before it to reach a decision based on the written representations of the parties.

The Teacher invited the Panel to review the Conditional Registration Order. In particular, the Teacher submitted that he had been unable to afford to have the [redacted] samples tested for the presence of [redacted] on a 3-monthly basis as provided for in condition 6 of the Conditional Registration Order.  The Teacher sought to have that requirement removed from the Conditional Registration Order. The Teacher submitted that he had no work and therefore had no income with which to pay for the tests. The Teacher had complied with the other conditions and in particular, condition 5 which requires the Teacher to attend regularly (and at least once per week) meetings of an appropriate support group or fellowship of individuals [redacted] and must provide the GTCS with evidence of such attendance every 2 months for the first 6 months and thereafter quarterly for a total period of 18 months. In addition, the Teacher supplied reports from his Doctor in relation to [redacted].

The Panel had before them written submissions from the Presenting Officer. The application was opposed and the Presenting Officer invited the Panel to refuse to amend the Conditional Registration Order.  It was submitted that the order was put in place for sound reasons and that there was no basis upon which to review it.

The Panel gave careful consideration to the decision of the original Panel issued following a 3 day Full Hearing on 11, 18 and 19 December 2017. That Panel had the benefit of considering all of the evidence in reaching their decision as to the Teacher’s fitness to teach and on the appropriate sanction. In particular, the Panel considered that continued monitoring of the Teacher’s registration was required to satisfy the need for public confidence in the Teacher, the regulator, and teaching as a profession and to ensure continuing remediation by the Teacher.  The Panel noted that the conduct of the Teacher was extremely serious and of a kind that would normally be expected to lead to a finding that the Teacher is unfit to teach. However, the Panel took into account the circumstances in which the conduct had occurred and the steps taken by the Teacher to address his [redacted] health and [redacted].

The Panel held that it was important that the issue of [redacted] continues to be addressed over the period of the Conditional Registration Order and that the steps identified in that order be taken and evidenced to the GTCS over the specified period.

It was further noted by the Panel that the conditions proposed had been sent to the Teacher and that he had had the benefit of legal advice before signing the Conditional Registration Order dated 18 January 2018. In addition, the Conditional Registration Order states specifically that the Teacher will be responsible for meeting any and all costs associated with complying with any of the conditions.

The Panel noted the cost of the test which is £669. The Panel appreciates that this is a significant amount of money to be expended on a quarterly basis when the Teacher is not in employment. The Panel also noted that the Teacher has complied with the other conditions contained within the Conditional Registration Order and did advise the GTCS that he was having financial difficulties and would not be in a position to meet the cost of the tests required.

The Panel was mindful that the original Panel had made a sound decision which had been accepted by the Teacher and it was not in the view of the Panel appropriate simply to remove the condition set by the previous Panel because the Teacher was now having difficulty meeting the cost, for reasons of maintaining public confidence. That issue was never raised at the time of the original hearing. The Teacher is now in breach of the Conditional Registration Order.

However, in fairness to the Teacher there is evidence before this Panel that the tests are as effective over a period of 6 months as they are over 3 months and as such there is some justification for reducing the frequency of any tests required. In addition, the Teacher has evidenced attendance at appropriate meetings as required by the Conditional Registration Order. Taking these matters into account and in all the circumstances the Panel have decided to give the Teacher an opportunity to address the issue of the outstanding tests by continuing and amending the Conditional Registration Order. The amendment will be such as to require that only one more test is carried out, which supports the hypothesis that the Teacher has not [redacted] at any time in the 6 months prior to the report, this being at the Teacher’s expense, and that the period of the Conditional Registration Order will be extended for a period of up to 6 months, to allow the Teacher to comply. In the event that the Teacher complies with the condition, by submitting the report of the required tests to the GTCS regulation department prior to the expiry of a period of 6 months, the Conditional Registration Order will expire on that date.

In the view of the Panel this proposed amendment and continuation will address the concerns expressed by the Teacher as to his ability to comply with the condition as presently stated and meet the public confidence concerns expressed by the original Panel in making the Conditional Registration Order in the terms that they did.