The General Teaching Council for Scotland

General Teaching Council for Scotland Fitness to Teach Panel Outcome

Professional Competence Full Hearing

16 and 17 May 2019

 Teacher  Patrick Carroll
 Registration Number 067144
 Registration category  Secondary - English
 Panel  David Hughes Hallet (Convener), Patsy Rimell and Tony Bragg
 Legal Assessor  James Mulgrew
 Servicing Officer  Kirsty McIntosh

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
  • the "Register" means the GTCS register of teachers
  • the "SFR" means GTCS Standard for Full Registration; and
  • the "SPR" means GTCS Standard for Provisional Registration.

Recommendation

In November 2018 GTCS received a recommendation from Glasgow City Council that the Teacher’s registration be cancelled because it is alleged that he lacks professional competence. In the Case Overview Report (the “Report”) submitted with the recommendation, it is alleged that the Teacher lacks professional competence with reference to his failure to meet and maintain the sections of the Standards indicated by an “X” in the following table:

1 Professional Values and Personal Commitment SFR
1.1 Social justice
1.2 Integrity X
1.3 Trust and Respect X
1.4 Professional Commitment

 

 2  Professional Knowledge and Understanding SFR 
 2.1 Curriculum  
 2.1.1 Have knowledge and understanding of the nature of the curriculum and its development.  
 2.1.2 Have knowledge and understanding of the relevant area(s) of pre-school, primary or
secondary curriculum.
 
 2.1.3 Have knowledge and understanding of planning coherent and progressive teaching
programmes.
 
 2.1.4 Have knowledge and understanding of context for learning to fulfil their
responsibilities in literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing and interdisciplinary
learning.
 X
 2.1.5 Have knowledge and understanding of the principles of assessment, recording and
reporting.
 
 2.2 Education Systems and Professional Responsibilities  
 2.2.1 Have knowledge and understanding of the principal features of the education system,
educational policy and practice.
 X
 2.2.2 Have knowledge and understanding of the schools and learning communities in
which they teach and their own professional responsibilities within them.
 
 2.3 Pedagogical Theories and Practice  
 2.3.1 Have knowledge and understanding of relevant educational principles and
pedagogical theories to inform professional practices.
 
 2.3.2 Have knowledge and understanding of the importance of research and
engagement in professional enquiry
 
 3 Professional Skills and Abilities SFR
 3.1 Teaching and Learning  
 3.1.1 Plan coherent, progressive and stimulating teaching programmes which
match learners’ needs and abilities.
 
 3.1.2 Communicate effectively and interact productively with learners, individually
and collectively.
 X
 3.1.3 Employ a range of teaching strategies and resources to meet the needs and
abilities of learners.
 X
 3.1.4 Have high expectations of all learners.  
 3.1.5 Work effectively in partnership in order to promote learning and wellbeing  X
 3.2 Classroom Organisation and Management  
 3.2.1 Create a safe, caring and purposeful learning environment.  X
 3.2.2 Develop positive relationships and positive behaviour strategies.  X
 3.3 Pupil Assessment  
 3.3.1 Use assessment, recording and reporting as an integral part of the teaching
process to support and enhance learning.
 
 3.4 Professional Reflection and Communication  
 3.4.1 Read and critically engage with professional literature, educational research
and policy.
 
 3.4.2 Engage in reflective practice to develop and advance career-long
professional learning and expertise.
 

The Report, along with the accompanying written evidence, explained why the local authority formed this view. The Teacher was provided with a copy of the Report and evidence and thereafter stated to GTCS in writing that he wished to challenge the recommendation made. Accordingly, the hearing was arranged to consider the matter.

Preliminary issues

Late Papers

The Teacher’s Representative asked to admit late papers. The papers comprised an inventory of papers with 11 documents. These included medical reports and records, handwritten notes by pupils, the Teacher’s professional review and development plan and CPD records for the relevant period. The Teacher’s Representative submitted that the Teacher’s poor health explained the delay in the papers being presented. It was also submitted that the papers were relevant to matters the Panel required to determine.

The Panel considered rules 1.3.7 and 1.7.22 of the Rules and also the papers themselves and decided to admit the papers. The Panel accepted that the documents were relevant. Accordingly, it was fair and appropriate to allow the papers to be received although late. However, as a consequence of the voluminous and significant papers being submitted late, the Hearing was delayed for over one hour in order to allow the local authority representatives and the Panel to digest the material contained within the documents.

Privacy Application

The Teacher’s Representative requested that certain parts of the Full Hearing relating to the Teacher’s health be heard in private. The Panel considered the Rules and the Privacy and Anonymity Practice Statement. The Panel recognised that protection of private life and health was a circumstance that justifies a departure from the default position that hearings be held in public. Accordingly, the Panel ordered that those parts of the hearing that touched upon the Teacher’s health would be held in private.

Evidence and submissions

The Panel considered the written evidence submitted prior to the commencement of the hearing. The Teacher provided an opening and closing statement via his Representative and answered questions put to him by the Panel. The Panel also asked questions of the local authority representatives, Local Authority Representative 1, Local Authority Representative 2 and Local Authority Representative 3.

The written evidence submitted for consideration by the Panel comprised:-

  1. Case Overview Report
  2. Evidence submitted by the Local Authority in support of the recommendation
  3. Notice of Full Hearing dated 12 April 2019 with email delivery and read receipts
  4. Inventory of Papers for the Teacher

Local Authority Written Evidence

  • Statement of Local Authority Representative 2

    Local Authority Representative 2 was the Depute Head Teacher and line manager for the English Faculty at School 1. She had been in position for 14 months. She indicated the Teacher required significant support with his classes and regularly phoned for Senior Leadership Team (SLT) support. She attended the calls swiftly and regularly, and removed pupils from the Teacher’s class to avoid incidents escalating. Her view was that the Teacher’s approach in these instances did not meet expected professional standards.

    Local Authority Representative 2 indicated that in telephone calls to SLT the Teacher’s manner was often unprofessional. He regularly made demands. He would not wait for a response before hanging up the phone.

    When SLT attended the Teacher’s class regarding issues he would often re-ignite the existing situation and talk over the top of Local Authority Representative 2. The Teacher did not use effective techniques to de-escalate the situation or adhere to the protocol of allowing the senior member of staff to address the issue. The Teacher did not listen to the advice of the Faculty Head or SLT and would often use up class time with lengthy explanations of the situation in front of the class. This went against school procedure for managing behaviour and could further escalate pupil distress. The usual approach would be to allow the pupil to be removed and refer the incident to allow space and time for all parties.

    The Teacher would often communicate his concerns via email. The terms of emails were often inappropriate in their tone, making demands to be met which were unreasonable. He preferred to communicate in writing rather than undertaking professional conversations to resolve a situation. Local Authority Representative 2’s view was conversations would often work to resolve a situation more effectively. She indicated that requests for a simple conversation to deal with issues around a pupil were often escalated.

    The Teacher had access to a range of supports and was provided with individual support on every occasion he requested it. He found it difficult to engage in the support to enable him to improve as he was not open to listening.

    He would avoid engaging in restorative meetings with young people with whom relationships had broken down. The practice was a key part of the promoting positive behaviour policy.

    The Teacher did not seem concerned with the needs of learners and the best way to support them. He created numerous referrals for learners with challenging behaviours and found it difficult to reflect on his own practice. He required support in this aspect of his professional knowledge and understanding.

    Local Authority Representative 2 had also witnessed the Teacher behaving aggressively to the Faculty Head of English. She referred to a particular occasion.

    Local Authority Representative 2 had spent a great deal of time discussing strategies to improve the Teacher’s professional conduct but he refused to engage in meetings or support. He was placing additional work on others through his difficulty to respond to advice and support. Local Authority Representative 2 indicated this had an impact on learners. The Teacher required support in building more positive relationships and to recognise the importance of his role in supporting all learners, many of whom demonstrated challenging behaviour.

  • Statement of Colleague 1, Depute Head Teacher

    Colleague 1 had been a Depute Head Teacher for four years. In her interactions with the Teacher she found his manner in general to be aggressive and confrontational if you spoke to him regarding a behaviour matter or tried to provide feedback to him. He tended to address her with anger in the same way that he would have addressed a young person at their point of misbehaviour. She had dealt with a number of concerns with regards to his relationships and provided details of a number of separate incidents.

  • Statement of Colleague 2, Depute Head Teacher

    Colleague 1 had been a Depute Head Teacher for four years. In her interactions with the Teacher she found his manner in general to be aggressive and confrontational if you spoke to him regarding a behaviour matter or tried to provide feedback to him. He tended to address her with anger in the same way that he would have addressed a young person at their point of misbehaviour. She had dealt with a number of concerns with regards to his relationships and provided details of a number of separate incidents.

  • Statement of Colleague 2, Depute Head Teacher

    Colleague 2 had been a Depute Head Teacher since 2011 and was the Depute Head Teacher link to the English Faculty until August 2016. She indicated it was a consistent challenge to support the Teacher and also the Faculty Head at the time due to relentless conflict. She observed the Faculty Head distressed on many occasions as a result of the Teacher’s behaviour towards her. She described the Teacher persistently seeking individual meetings with her in order to re-tell his side of events and that very often he would demand to meet with her after school to go over the same concerns in more detail and to seek her validation. He never accepted responsibility or reflect on his behaviour or interaction. Throughout her time she learned that the only approach she could take with the Teacher was to listen to him as he did not listen to her. His focus was introspective and always proving his professionalism as a teacher, blaming others for any issue and unable or unwilling to reflect on his own behaviour and the impact that was having on his faculty head. She felt that the Teacher bore resentment that his talents were not recognised and valued, his resentment manifesting itself through frustration, anger, aggression and an inability to listen or see other points of view which he took as personal criticism or as a challenge to his authority. She had observed the Teacher on many occasions and noted he did not like pupils not following his instructions without question as he saw that as a lack of respect. He needed the power balance in adult relationships to be in his favour.

  • Statement of Colleague 3, Senior Depute Head Teacher

    Colleague 3 had been a Depute Head Teacher since August 2002 and Senior Depute Head Teacher since January 2011. In his dealings with the Teacher the Teacher’s tone and demeanour were often aggressive, especially concerning pupil behaviour incidents. The aggressive behaviour was exacerbated when the Teacher was particularly angry or upset and he shouted and did not listen. The Teacher regularly did not follow school procedures, for example: leaving his class unattended to go directly to Colleague 3’s office for assistance with behaviour issues; not going through his Faculty Head; and not always referring pupils to the appropriate House Head. The Teacher did not reflect on his part in escalating incidents and did not always follow advice from Colleague 3. The tone of his emails was often sarcastic and unprofessional and examples were provided.

  • Colleague 4, Faculty Head of English

    Colleague 4 was the Line Manager of the Teacher. She had some concerns that at the time the Teacher did not meet the standards for registration in particular in the area of professional values and positive relationships. Colleague 4 referred to a particular example. She referred to the considerable number of referrals generated by the Teacher in which he demonstrated his lack of consideration of the specific departmental strategies that should be used to resolve the situation. There had been parental requests for class moves for some pupils where parents were concerned about their child’s welfare in his class. Colleague 4 recognised the need to have professional conversations with the Teacher around the issues he had with learners and in particular those with the highest level of need. She was aware of the Teacher reacting aggressively in the past when asked to reflect on his practice. She avoided interaction of this nature with the Teacher in order to maintain vital communication and calm working environments.

  • Statement of Colleague 5, Teacher

    Colleague 5 referred to a particular incident involving a pupil. The pupil reported to Colleague 5 she was upset having had an argument with the Teacher. Colleague 5 went to see the Teacher to speak to him. She wished to explain to the Teacher that the pupil wanted to apologise to him and to try to resolve the issue. The Teacher refused. He indicated that Colleague 5 needed to leave as he needed to lock his door and he ushered her out of his room. Colleague 5 indicated that the manner in which the Teacher addressed her was extremely aggressive, patronising and completely inappropriate. She felt shocked, embarrassed, shaken up and very upset afterwards.

The Local Authority also provided copy letters to the Teacher dated 8 March 2018 and 16 April 2018 relating to Stages 1, 2 and 3 of LNCT 11 and 12 Code of Discipline for Teachers. The letters indicated that the Faculty Head and SLT had repeatedly supported the Teacher in a range of ways, including:

  1. Attending incidents on demand;
  2. Defusing confrontations;
  3. De-escalating situations;
  4. Investigating incidents and taking action as appropriate;
  5. Listening and offering advice, support and alternative ways of working;
  6. Suggesting a restorative meeting between yourself and the young person; and
  7. Permanently removing pupils from your classes to avoid further confrontation and negative impact on learners.

The concern was that the following themes were emerging:

  • Demonstrating an overtly angry, aggressive approach towards staff and pupils;
  • Not following school and departmental procedures, resulting in unnecessary escalation of incidents;
  • Responding to pupils distressed behaviour by shouting loudly and behaving confrontationally;
  • Continuing to behave in an aggressive, confrontational and threatening way through verbal language, tone and body language when being supported by SLT or Faculty Head often further escalating the situation;
  • Not evidencing reflection on behaviour or acknowledging that anger escalates incidents;
  • Dismissive of support and advice from the SLT; and
  • Teaching and support for learning colleagues who have tried to support the Teacher resolve situations have been left upset and shaken by the Teacher’s aggressive, threatening and dismissive responses.

The original letter indicated that the way forward was to support the Teacher at LNCT 11, Stage 1 and 2 combined. That letter referred to a number of the separate standards for registration that were caught by the concerns. The Teacher was invited to a meeting on 21 March 2018. At that meeting it was the view of the Head Teacher that the Teacher was not agreeing with what was being said and believed an investigation should be conducted. It was also observed that the Teacher responded negatively. The Head Teacher reported that the Teacher’s behaviour at the meeting was an example of how difficult it was to have a professional dialogue with the Teacher and how as a practitioner he did not reflect. The decision was taken by the Head Teacher to recommend that the process move to a disciplinary hearing. A disciplinary hearing was scheduled to take place on 22 May 2018.

Teacher’s Written Evidence

The Teacher’s medical records from his GP along with a supporting report from the GP dated 19 February 2019 was produced. The report confirmed that the Teacher first attended with symptoms relating to [redacted] on 15 May 2015. At that time he was reported as having [redacted], relating to a very stressful situation at work. He was certified as unfit for work from 11 May 2015. The report then narrates the attendances at his GP, what was found and the treatment and medication provided. The final certification as unfit to work lasted until 7 March 2016. The Teacher was then seen again on 14 May 2018 for problems caused by [redacted]. He was again [redacted]. He was certified unfit to work from 14 May 2018. The report then narrates further attendances, what was found and medication and treatment provided. At the date of the report the Teacher continued to be certified unfit for work. The GP’s opinion was that it appeared that the Teacher’s [redacted] health problems were a direct result of the stress he had suffered in relation to events at work. Further, the Teacher’s generalised [redacted] and poor motivation were certainly factors that would impede the Teacher’s ability to engage in processes brought against him by his employer. Lack of motivation was a common feature of [redacted]. [redacted] could also lead to avoidance of stressful situations.

A report was also provided by Medical Professional 1, [redacted] dated 12 March 2019. It followed an examination of the Teacher by Medical Professional 1 on 6 March 2019 and an assessment of other material. Medical Professional 1’s opinion was that the Teacher currently fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for [redacted]. Characteristics of such a diagnosis comprised a mixed presentation with prominent features of both [redacted]. The Teacher had developed this condition over a period of approximately 4 years in response to severe stresses within School 1 in combination with his poor coping response. Although chronic, his experience of the condition was reasonably well controlled through the use of prescription medication. Medical Professional 1’s opinion was that although the deterioration in the Teacher’s health since 2015 may have played some role in the breakdown of his relationship with his former employers it was unlikely to have caused that breakdown. The doctor’s opinion was that the Teacher’s relationship with his former employers began to break down first, after which his [redacted] health began to deteriorate in response to this. The doctor indicated it was difficult to comment retrospectively on the role that the Teacher’s [redacted] health may have played in his alleged incompetence, alleged aggressive behaviour or ability to engage with colleagues and students. It was the doctor’s opinion that it was unlikely that his poor [redacted] health alone could account for all of those. However, it was certainly possible that his poor [redacted] health may have played a role in some aspects of his behaviour at his former place of employment.

The Teacher also provided his Professional Review and Development (PRD) annual reviews from 2014 to 2018 inclusive. The plan and areas for developments did not specifically refer to areas covered by the standards for registration which it was submitted the Teacher failed to meet. Some activities not in the original plan touched on some of those issues including child protection, promoting positive behaviour, attachment theory and nurturing principles.

The Teacher’s Continuing Professional Development record was also produced. Co-operative learning, child protection and promoting positive behaviour were all referred to, matching the additional activities referred to in the PRD records.

The Teacher’s papers also included letters of apology from pupils regarding their conduct and a supporting anonymous letter from a parent which was critical of comments made by another teacher about the Teacher.

The Teacher also included referral details relating to a particular pupil in November and December 2017 and in relation to a separate pupil in February 2018.

Teacher’s Opening Statement

The Teacher was 63 years of age and was formerly employed by Glasgow City Council as a secondary school teacher at School 1. Following a number of years teaching English to university students in Girona, Spain, he returned to Scotland in 2005 and after obtaining his Scottish teaching qualification and professional registration with GTCS he completed his probationary year and thereafter worked for Glasgow City Council as an English teacher. From 2008 onwards the Teacher worked at School 1.

The Teacher had the opportunity of considering the documentation offered in support of this referral from his former employers. He was familiar with the Standards for Full Registration. He considered that whilst he had sought to maintain the Standards for Full Registration, he believed there were aspects of his professional practice which could be improved and actions on his part which, given the opportunity to revisit, he would.

The Teacher’s position was that the issues which had been raised with reference to the Standards for Full Registration should be considered in their proper context. It should be recognised that, by the time the academic session 2017 /18 commenced, the Teacher, in the period from 2014 faced a succession of processes initiated by his employers, none of which had led to any conclusion or adverse finding. The timeframe in which those LNCT 12 processes had taken place coincided with significant issues with his [redacted] health.

A report from the Teacher’s GP was available and provided both a timeline and a narrative of the Teacher’s presentation when attending his doctor. Symptoms of [redacted] were both noted, treatment was prescribed and he was certified unfit for work between May 2015 and March 2016. The condition had not resolved and symptoms recurred following his return to work.

A report from Medical Professional 1, a [redacted] was available which confirmed that the Teacher suffered from a [redacted], a condition that had developed over the 4 year period since 2015. It was in the context of significant health issues that the complaints relating to the Teacher’s interaction with pupils and colleagues fell to be considered.

Another aspect of the context which was relevant were the significant difficulties experienced with pupils exhibiting extremely disruptive behaviour. It was a significant issue which led directly to the deployment of a campus police officer with an office on school premises from the autumn of 2017.

The Teacher had asked that the following points be emphasised:

  • He fully recognised the need to engage pupils in the classes he teaches;
  • He also fully recognised that removal of a pupil from a classroom interrupts that pupil’s education and may have a significantly detrimental effect on that pupil as a result;
  • If during this period, any pupil in his class was made to feel uncomfortable in any way or did not feel able to communicate with him, or ask questions, that was a source of concern and regret;
  • The Teacher recognised the need to treat pupils respectfully and as individuals and to seek to keep them engaged in the class and only to consider their removal as a last option when the pupil’s behaviour disrupted the teaching of the whole class to an unacceptable extent;
  • He also recognised the need to deal with management in a constructive, professionally responsible manner and to treat colleagues with respect and in a collegiate fashion;
  • He had thought extremely carefully about his own practice over the period;
  • At no stage was it his intention to upset or distress any pupil, nor in his interaction with senior management or professional colleagues was it his intention to exhibit anger or to act in a way which gave rise to any distress or concern;
  • He recognised that, against the background of a situation in which his [redacted] health was deteriorating, there may have been occasions when, in his interactions both with pupils and with colleagues, the effect of his [redacted] unintentionally made it more difficult to manage instances of disruptive behaviour without reflecting his frustration; and
  • Insofar as his communication with senior management was concerned, the Teacher advised that he did not intend at any time, to upset or distress any member of management or any of his professional colleagues.

The Teacher considered that he used the appropriate reporting procedures and so far as a number of criticisms are concerned, he believed that those were unfounded or materially misrepresented the position. He had produced the referral paperwork in relation to Pupil BC as an example of his communications.

Perhaps the clearest example of this was the criticism based on the removal of a number of pupils from the Teacher’s classes. The local authority stated there were 10 pupils removed from the Teacher’s classes in the period between August 2017 and March 2018. However, when the material offered in support of the allegation was considered, it was clear that 8 and not 10 of those pupils were removed during the 2017/2018 session. What was not made clear was that, of those 8, 3 pupils had been placed in the Teacher’s classes after the commencement of the term without notice being provided to the Teacher or consultation with him taking place. The Teacher submitted that when considering whether or not it was appropriate to have those three pupils admitted from his class, it would be relevant to have information regarding the pupils’ general behaviour within the school and specifically whether they had, before being transferred to his class, been removed from their previous classes as a consequence of their disruptive behaviour.

During the academic year the Teacher was teaching 5 classes- S1, S2, S3, S4 and S5/6 comprising between 140 to 150 pupils to the best of his recollection.

It was submitted that to state that a significant number of pupils were removed from the Teacher’s class as a result of the breakdown of the pupil/teacher relationship was inaccurate and misleading.

The Teacher advised that his professional performance during the period during which he had been teaching had seen pupils making appropriate progress and achieving satisfactory examination results.

There was no criticism of the Teacher’s subject knowledge or ability to teach the curriculum to the required standard. His PRD documentation was produced covering the period from 2014 to 2018 and makes no reference to the issues which brought him before the hearing.

The Teacher was concerned to have learned about the body of complaints advanced by management when case papers were produced by the local authority at the conclusion of an ‘in service’ day on 8 May 2018.

He observed that had effective measures been taken to engage in discussions in a collegiate manner as the events were occurring matters may have had a different outcome. Unfortunately, by May 2018, his [redacted] health had deteriorated significantly, to the point that he was unfit to work and to engage to any meaningful extent in the LNCT 11 and disciplinary procedures. His dismissal in June 2018 followed a brief meeting, which was minuted as lasting 15 minutes, at which he was neither present nor represented.

The Teacher had the opportunity to reflect carefully not only on the documentation produced by GTCS but also to review the medical evidence which was now available. He now had insight and understanding of events which had occurred during a difficult and stressful period for him and he sought to retain his professional registration.

Oral Evidence

The Panel asked the Teacher how he motivated youngsters in an English class. He responded that first of all he dealt with seating arrangements and took into account the ability of pupils. Further when it came to groupwork the Teacher would give responsibility in rotation to individuals. He would also prepare and plan for lessons. He used IT extensively due to his background in graphic design. In terms of how he addressed pupils he was always aware of progression as a horizontal model that pupils work with each other and could praise individually and as groups.

The Teacher was asked how he dealt with pupils who are not engaging. He replied that the teamwork system has in-built to it the fact that you have responsibility to others in your team. An initial step would be to have the team resolve issues if at a low level. The Teacher would then intervene and speak to individuals or if that failed he would use the school behaviour policy.

The Teacher was asked how valuable a restorative approach with pupils is. He indicated that it was very valuable and that it was of use to bring in the Faculty Head to have a word with a pupil to try and then re-engage and reintegrate the pupil.

The local authority also indicated that a restorative approach was valuable. It was very important if there was a situation between a pupil and a member of staff that both have voices. However, they observed that the Teacher would shout at and belittle a pupil and he wanted the Faculty Head to do the same. That was not school policy.

The contention that the Teacher was not interested in restorative meetings with pupils and had turned them down was put to him. The Teacher responded that he did not turn them down. Meetings did take place. He had reflected on the behaviour policy.

The local authority indicated that a senior manager being called to the Teacher’s class on a daily basis was the default position. It was not normal practice for a Depute Head to engage in a restorative meeting since members of staff could usually deal with the situation alone.

The Depute Head would attend regularly at the Teacher’s class. The supporting papers evidenced, however, that the Teacher tried to avoid such a meeting. The Depute Head’s regular practice was to invite the Teacher to a restorative meeting after a period of time. Whenever she did there was resistance from the Teacher. He was not keen to take part.

In relation to the particular instance referred to by the local authority the Teacher contended that he was saying that he was trying to involve the pupil and trying to get feedback from colleagues to get more understanding of the pupil’s background. His intention was to ascertain whether there was more information out there before he engaged in a meeting.

The Teacher was asked about the breakdown of communication between him and a pupil and how he dealt with that. He tried to remember a precise occasion. Over the course of a year there were 7 or 8 occasions that senior management would have to be involved to restore order. At those points they were heated situations and very possibly there were raised voices with all parties, but he would not say that the communication lines had broken down or a restorative meeting rejected by him. If a meeting had been arranged he did not think he ever refused to attend. On one occasion the Depute Head had called him to a meeting but he could not attend due to a separate commitment.

The Teacher was asked about a number of occasions when he had felt a restorative meeting was not possible. He referred to a pupil not being in an emotional position for there to be a positive outcome. He and the Faculty Head had tried to engage the pupil in a restorative meeting but it would be impossible to resolve the issue by speaking. The Teacher was challenged about his use of the word ‘impossible’. He replied that it would not have been impossible but that there were challenges to a positive outcome.

The Teacher was asked how he kept himself informed about pupils with additional support needs and/or who exhibit challenging behaviour following his experience in Spain. The Teacher indicated that, although the young adults whom he taught in Spain were motivated to learn, that did not mean that they had no such needs. At university he had tried to understand those needs. On return he went to Jordanhill College and studied the Curriculum for Excellence. In some classes he had been given thorough background training and he had been very clear about the requirements of GIRFEC. He stated that teaching English was a privileged position to be in as you can focus and develop units of study.

The Teacher was asked what he did to find out how to support a child who had been causing concern. He responded that he would consider that something had happened and most frequently would ask a pupil to come out to his desk and find out. He had information from a variety of sources and would be updated on that. Initially in his classroom he would use a desk next to his where he could give one to one assistance and if that failed he would use the school behavioural policy and follow the behavioural code. He used a lot of strategies in the classroom before contacting senior management.

The local authority was asked what the school had done to support and inform staff teaching pupils with additional support needs and/or who exhibited challenging behaviour. They responded that had been in their improvement plan. There had been training on restorative practices and on all behaviours and communication. There had been in-service training and information given at school meetings. There had been a shift across the school regarding understanding distressed behaviour and avoiding shouting at pupils. There was also information available on pupil information pages and from pastoral care teachers. The school had an on-call system and had a nurture room. There was also a time out room that was permanently staffed to take pupils out of a behaviour situation in class.

The Teacher indicated that he had used the room and explained how it operated. He had also had conversations with pastoral care, guidance and learning support that did have a positive impact. Support for learning staff worked on rotation with identified pupils in each class. The Teacher explained how he liaised with and utilised support for learning staff.

The Panel put to the Teacher that he was suggesting things were fine in his class but there was evidence that others could hear him shouting and losing his temper. The Teacher indicated that it was entirely possible that voices were raised by everyone.

It was pointed out to the Teacher that the focus of the PRD was subject focussed rather than teaching and behaviour focussed. He was asked what steps he had taken to further his knowledge and develop strategies with challenging high tariff pupils. He referred to a particular pupil’s situation. He was pressed about wider reading regarding management of behaviour and his own research. He indicated he received training during in-service day talks and had carried out a comparative study on the rights of the child in different countries.

The Teacher was asked what he considered were the triggers that caused pupils to become involved in confrontation with him and which caused them to be removed from the class. The Teacher indicated that in his experience, except a one off, it was normally due to Facebook. He utilised classroom management to avoid the triggers of such behaviour and to ensure a calm environment.

The Teacher indicated his PRD was prepared following a meeting with his line manager and issues like integrity or communication did not feature as areas of concern.

The Teacher was asked what his working relationships were like with others in the school. He indicated that when he arrived in 2009 he took on the responsibility for the literacy committee which was a focus of the development plan and he chaired the committee. He also brought colleagues’ attention to how literacy could affect curriculum including an example in Home Economics. He indicated that he had built up strong professional relationships across the school, which had continued for a number of years until 2015, to the pupils’ benefit.

The Teacher was asked about his day to day relationship with management in the school and how he would describe his relationships with them. He stated he was as collegiate as possible at all times. He was put through a number of LCNT procedures since 2014 and there had been a breakdown in trust between the Teacher and the SLT many of whom had provided statements. The local authority indicated that a change in Faculty Head had resulted in a better relationship between the Teacher and the new Faculty Head than the previous head, but similar behaviour was exhibited to her also.

The Teacher was asked what supports the school offered him and put in place and whether he felt he was getting support. He stated he was not supported as much as he would have liked. He referred to repeat patterns in the statements. He questioned whether they had been addressed as quickly as possible. Many concerns were bundled up. He was not supported as swiftly as he would have liked. He indicated he had many conversations with Local Authority Representative 2 which were not as she had described.

The Teacher was asked what insight he had of his deteriorating [redacted] health at the time. He responded by explaining the process he had gone through at the time which did not address the question. He later stated he knew he was becoming incredibly unhappy and he was then diagnosed and then he was off sick. The Teacher did not refer to ways in which his health directly impacted upon his teaching but did say that he was not sleeping which would have affected him.

The Teacher had not undertaken any paid or unpaid employment since his dismissal or any private teaching. A separate health issue had impacted upon that. He would hope to return into teaching and in an environment where issues can be dealt with more quickly.

The Teacher considered that he required support to meet standard 3.2.2.

Teacher’s Closing Statement

It was submitted there was no suggestion that pupils in the Teacher's class had failed to progress at a good rate, nor anything to suggest that pupils’ performance was anything less than satisfactory. There had been no challenge to his ability to teach the curriculum.

The Teacher’s Representative stated the Panel should not expect significant and relevant facts to be omitted in the local authority submission. The Panel would be entitled to be concerned that no mention was made that there was a significant and entirely relevant health issue including extended absences. The Teacher had a diagnosis of [redacted]. The background generally was of a deteriorating [redacted] health issue, which Medical Professional 1 says may have had an effect on the Teacher's professional conduct.

It was submitted the Teacher's LNCT process and the investigations carried out against him were incomplete and undeniably had an effect on the relationship between employer and employee. It was submitted the local authority statements were not impartial or objective accounts. The PRD disclosed no indicators of the alleged concerns. There was a notable lack of any action and reaction when issues did occur. Events had been noted, stored up and not addressed in a collegiate fashion. Further, the LCNT process adopted had moved immediately to stage 1 and 2 rather than progressively. The submission was that this factor undermined the recommendation offered by the local authority.

The Teacher had been able to demonstrate knowledge of his subject. He had engaged cooperatively with the Panel. Undeniably, he was unwell. He was currently receiving medication for his condition. He had significant health problems which he was recovering from.

It was submitted the Panel had to look at the public interest, interest of pupils and the interests of the Teacher. The Teacher’s Representative indicated that the Teacher would be prepared to agree to conditions on his registration and suggested:

  1. Providing any new employer with the Panel's decision;
  2. Providing periodic reports from his line manager; and
  3. A requirement to immediately notify GTCS of any complaint made by a pupil, colleague or line manager.

It was submitted those conditions would provide some reassurance and would be fair and reasonable in the circumstances.

Findings in Fact

The Panel had in mind that the standard of proof required is that used in civil proceedings, namely the balance of probabilities, and that it must base its decision on the evidence before it. Accordingly, the Panel carefully considered all of the oral and written evidence presented at the hearing, along with the submissions made by the Teacher during the hearing, in making its findings in fact below.

There had been a breakdown in the relationship between the SLT at the school and the Teacher. The SLT clearly did not like the Teacher and did not want to work with him again. The Panel’s view was that there was a lack of empathy shown by the local authority. There was little evidence provided of what support had been put in place for the Teacher when he returned to school following a period of ill health. The case overview report often was not specific enough and did not tie concerns raised with the standards specifically identified. However, the local authority witnesses were professional, clear, straight-forward and answered all questions. They were credible and were generally able to recall events. Their accounts were consistent. They had experienced a difficult time with the Teacher.

The Panel considered the Teacher was credible from his point of view. His answers to the Panel’s questions were long and not to the point. He found it difficult to answer the questions asked and to answer concisely even when given a second or third opportunity. The Panel did not think the Teacher was very well placed to form an objective view of events due to his illness which perhaps clouded his judgement. His insight and understanding of how his health had affected him was poor. This was evidenced in his response to Panel questioning. He also had an interest in the outcome of the hearing.

Key areas of concern

  1. 1.2 Integrity
    The Panel considered there was insufficient evidence to support the contention that the Teacher did not meet this standard.
  2. 1.3 Trust and Respect
    The Panel found that the Teacher did not deal with confrontational students well, that he escalated situations with pupils quickly and that he did not have a particularly caring approach to pupils. He did have an obvious love of the subject he taught. The tone of some of his emails to colleagues was inappropriate. He should have met with colleagues to talk face to face instead of sending an email and telling them how to do their job. He had been very directive. Further, talking about what a pupil had done with another colleague in front of the rest of the class was disrespectful. The Teacher failed to recognise the perception of colleagues. The Panel was satisfied that the Teacher did not meet this standard.
  3. 2.1.4 Have knowledge and understanding of contexts for learning to fulfil their responsibilities in literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing and interdisciplinary learning
    The Panel considered there was insufficient evidence to support the contention that the Teacher did not meet this standard.
  4. 2.2.1 Have knowledge and understanding of the principal features of the education system, education policy and practice
    The Panel’s view was that there was no relevant evidence provided by the local authority that the Teacher failed to meet this standard. The local authority evidence clearly implied that he did not know or follow the school's Behaviour Policy, but that is not what the standard requires. The Teacher referred to the Curriculum for Excellence and GIRFEC unprompted in his evidence so he was aware of those. The Panel was not satisfied that the Teacher failed to meet this standard.
  5. 3.1.2 Communicate effectively and interact productively with learners, individually and collectively
    The Panel found that talking about a pupil in front of other pupils and shouting at pupils are examples of not communicating effectively. The Panel was satisfied that the Teacher was reluctant to attend restorative meetings. He was unable to de-escalate behaviour situations in class. He should have been using techniques to divert a pupil's attention. The Panel was satisfied that the Teacher failed to meet this standard.
  6. 3.1.3 Employ a range of teaching strategies and resources to meet the needs and abilities of learners
    The Teacher did not seem to reflect on his practice and learn from that. The manner in which he dealt with challenging pupils in class, involved the SLT and dealt with situations in a confrontational manner in front of the rest of the class would have an impact on other learners. The consequences of this were unsatisfactory for everybody, so he should have realised that and dealt with the situations differently in the future. On the other hand he used IT resources effectively and encouraged group work in the classroom. The Teacher would also use support for learning staff to support the rest of the class whilst he worked one on one with pupils who were either struggling or misbehaving. On balance, whilst the Teacher met aspects of this standard, the Panel concluded that he did not meet this standard in full.
  7. 3.1.5 Work effectively in partnership in order to promote learning and wellbeing
    The Panel were satisfied that the Teacher failed to meet this standard specifically in respect of his colleagues. He communicated in writing rather than verbally, his tone was on occasion inappropriate, he discussed and rehearsed matters in front of a class when colleagues were involved and he refused to take part in meetings to discuss and resolve situations.
  8. 3.2.1 Create a safe, caring and purposeful learning environment
    In the original papers the local authority had not marked how it assessed the Teacher’s maintenance of this standard. When asked to clarify at the hearing it was verbally confirmed that this should have been marked that the Teacher failed to maintain this standard. However, the Panel did not find there to be sufficient evidence to suggest that this standard had not been met by the Teacher.
  9. 3.2.2 Develop positive relationships and positive behaviour strategies
    The Teacher had accepted during Panel questioning that he did not meet this standard. The Panel found he did not use advice from colleagues or agree with advice from colleagues. He would not meet with colleagues to discuss issues. He did not demonstrate working with care and commitment to all learners. He did not acknowledge the wellbeing of certain pupils. He did not implement the school's behaviour policy appropriately nor manage pupil behaviour in and around the school in a sensitive, fair and informed manner. He did not seek and use advice from colleagues in managing behaviour. He did not evaluate his behaviour strategies and was not open to adapting his behaviour challenges. He did not recognise when a learner’s behaviour may signify distress and take appropriate action. The Panel accepted evidence that he antagonised or escalated situations in the way that he dealt with them. The Panel was satisfied that the Teacher failed to meet this standard.

Accordingly, the Panel determined that the Teacher had not met the SFR in relation to parts 1.3, 3.1.2, 3.1.3, 3.1.5 and 3.2.2.

Fitness to Teach

The Panel found that the Teacher had not met five of the Standards for Full Registration, namely parts 1.3, 3.1.2, 3.1.3, 3.1.5 and 3.2.2. Accordingly the Panel was satisfied that he had fallen short of the standards expected of a registered teacher.

The Panel acknowledged that it had not been presented with any evidence that the Teacher’s knowledge and teaching of the curriculum was in question. He was not out of step with expectations of the school in respect of attainment. The standards the Teacher had not met related to pupil behaviour management and interactions with pupils and colleagues. There was a similar theme of communication and relationships with colleagues and pupils.

The Panel recognised that the Teacher’s illness may have affected him.

The Panel considered whether the shortfalls identified were remediable. The Panel were of the view that they were remediable. The Panel’s view was that if the Teacher’s health improves and he is able and willing to learn from past events and mistakes then the shortfalls would be remediable by him.

The Panel considered whether the shortfalls identified had been remedied. The Panel’s view was that it had not heard any evidence to suggest that the Teacher had undertaken any work yet to remedy the shortfalls.

The Panel then considered the likelihood of reoccurrence. The Panel noted the 10 years of teaching between 2005 and 2015 in relation to which there was no evidence of competency issues. It had been in the relatively recent time period that things had gone wrong. During that time the Teacher became unwell and matters worsened. Behaviour was a pattern between 2015 and 2018. Despite the deliberate opportunity offered by the Panel for the Teacher to show insight or remorse, that which he did exhibit was limited. There was limited evidence of him having full insight into the shortfalls and no evidence of remediation. Accordingly, it was not possible to say that there was no risk of reoccurrence.

The Panel assessed all of the information available to it and concluded that the Teacher’s fitness to teach was currently impaired.

Outcome

The Panel questioned whether it was possible to identify specific areas of the Teacher's practice that were remediable and that could be effectively, appropriately and practically controlled or restricted by imposing conditions. The Panel’s view was that this was possible and that the specific areas to be addressed related to his relationship with and communication with colleagues and pupils.

There was no evidence of educational harm to pupils. However, emotional harm was present and there was still a risk of harm to pupils. The Panel noted that conditions that had been proposed by the Teacher’s Representative reflected monitoring which could be put in place. The Panel noted that the Teacher was motivated to return to teaching. The quality of his teaching was not in question. His focus was to remedy the behaviour described by the local authority. The Panel considered that the Teacher’s motivation to return to teaching, allied to an improvement in his [redacted] health would encourage reflection and remediation of the issues the Panel had found existed in his relationships and communication with pupils and colleagues. The Panel determined that conditions on the Teacher’s registration would in the circumstances satisfy a reasonably informed member of the public. The terms of the Conditional Registration Order proposed are as follows:

‘I accept that my registration with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) is subject to the conditions specified below and I undertake to comply with these conditions.

I understand that I must also remain eligible to be registered in accordance with the GTCS Registration and Standards Rules. I also understand that any failure to comply with the conditions specified may permit a Fitness to Teach Panel, following the appropriate conditional registration order review procedure set out in the GTCS Fitness to Teach Rules, to direct that my name be removed from the GTCS Register of Teachers.

Conditions:

The Registrar is directed to show against my entry in the GTCS Register of Teachers that for a period of 2 years from the date of signing (the date that this Order takes effect), I, Patrick Carroll (Registration number 067144) must comply with the following conditions:

The conditions are:

  1. I must submit to GTCS Regulation and Legal Services Team a medical report within 4 weeks of signing this order, and then every 3 months thereafter, from my GP which confirms that I am complying with advice, treatment and medication relevant to my [redacted] health.
  2. I must inform any prospective employer at the time of making an application for employment, that my GTCS registration is subject to these conditions and provide them with a copy of the decision notice that resulted in this Order being imposed on me.
  3. I must inform GTCS Regulation and Legal Services Team in writing within 7 days of commencement of employment (whether on a permanent or temporary basis) as a teacher or in a post for which GTCS registration is required.
  4. I must inform GTCS Regulation and Legal Services Team in writing within 7 days of receipt of a complaint/complaints about me, relating to standards 3.1.5 or 3.2.2, by pupils, parents or my line manager, and within 7 days of the commencement of any disciplinary or fitness to practise proceedings taken against me.
  5. I must complete an annual Professional Review and Development (PRD) process within 6 months of commencing employment as a teacher, and annually thereafter, and I must submit the completed PRD paperwork to GTCS Regulation and Legal Services Team within 1 month of completion of the process.
  6. Should I gain a temporary or permanent post as a teacher for which GTCS registration is required, within 3 months of commencing employment and each 3 months thereafter, I must provide GTCS Regulation and Legal Services Team with written reports from my line manager addressing whether I am meeting standards 3.1.5 and 3.2.2 of the Standards for Registration 2012.
  7. I understand that I will be responsible for meeting any and all costs associated with complying with the conditions set out above.’

    Right of Review

    The Teacher will receive written notice of this decision as soon as reasonably practicable (normally within 28 days) and has the right to ask for the decision to be reviewed where there are grounds for such a review in terms of the Panel that reached the decision concerned having either:-

    1. failed to act in accordance with the Rules; or
    2. made an error in law or in fact,

    that has had a significant impact on the decision made.

    Any such review request must specify the grounds on which it is based and be made within 28 days of the date of service of the notice of the decision.

    Notwithstanding the Teacher’s right of review, the decision takes immediate effect.