The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

General Teaching Council for Scotland Fitness to Teach Panel Outcome

Procedural Meeting

Wednesday 29 November

 Teacher  XXXXXXXX
 Registration number  XXXXXXXX
 Registration category  Secondary - Music (provisional)
 Panel  Ijaz Ashraf, Kathleen McCormick, John Andersons
 Legal Assessor  Julie Mckinlay
 Servicing Officer  Vivien Whyte
 Presenting Officer  Gary Burton, Anderson Strathern LLP
 Respondent'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.

Background

The Procedural Meeting was arranged to consider the following applications made on behalf of the Teacher:

  1. for the Teacher's name to be anonymised in any decision issued following consideration of this application and, in the event of a procedural hearing being required to consider this application, for that procedural hearing to be held in private; and
  2. for the present fitness to teach proceedings brought against the Teacher to be cancelled in terms of Rule 2.5.1(c) of the Rules.

Evidence

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

  • P1 Procedural Hearing Decision dated 31 July 2017 in the same case
  • P2 The Public Services Reform (GTCS) Order 2011
  • P3 de Freitas v Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture [1999] 1 AC 69
  • P4 Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • P5 Procedural Hearing decision in the case of AM dated 7 November 2016
  • P6 XXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXX Report by Dr XXXXX XXXXXX dated 19 June 2017
  • P7 XXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX Report by Dr XXXXX XXXXXX dated 3 November 2017
  • P8 Letter from Dr XXXXX XXXX, XXXXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXXX, dated 22 February 2017
  • P9 Letter from the Teacher to GTCS dated 24 October 2017
  • P10 Statement of Teacher, unsigned and undated
  • P11 Email correspondence regarding updated submission

Written submissions were lodged in advance of the meeting from Mr Foulis on behalf of the Teacher in support of the applications. Written submissions were also lodged in advance from Mr Burton in response to the applications, dated 14 November 2017, with an updated submission from him by email dated 21 November 2017.

Preliminary matters

The applications made by the Teacher were considered by the Panel, based on the written submissions lodged by the parties, at a meeting held in private. A Procedural Hearing was not required.

Decision

First, the Panel considered the application for Teacher's name to be anonymised in any decision issued on the basis that no Procedural Hearing was required. The Panel noted that a previous Panel at a Procedural Hearing on 31 July 2017 had considered the impact which publicity of any nature may have on the Teacher, and having considered all of the evidence before them, determined to grant the Teacher's application for the Full Hearing to be held in private and for her to have anonymity both in relation to the decision of that Procedural Hearing Panel and in respect of the Full Hearing. The Panel had before them the medical evidence which had been available to that Procedural Hearing Panel. Based on the evidence before them, the Panel was content to maintain that decision. There was no compelling reason upon which to reach a different view and, on that basis, the Panel agreed that the Teacher's name be anonymised in this decision.

Thereafter the Panel considered the application for the present fitness to teach proceedings brought against the Teacher to be cancelled in terms of Rule 2.5.1(c) of the Rules. The Panel noted that Mr Burton for the GTCS did not oppose the application.

The Panel considered the general objective as set out in the Rules at Rule 1.3.7. The Rules have the general objective of enabling cases to be dealt with fairly and justly and this should be given effect to by the Panel when exercising their power under the Rules. In particular, dealing with cases fairly and justly includes dealing with them in ways which are proportionate to the complexity of the issues and which ensure that parties are able to participate fully in proceedings.

The Panel decided that the present fitness to teach proceedings brought against the Teacher be cancelled in terms of Rule 2.5.1 (c) of the Rules. In doing so, the Panel gave careful consideration to the medical evidence presented by the Teacher. In considering that evidence, the Panel had regard to the Health Matters and Medical Evidence Practice Statement. The Panel considered that the medical evidence was compelling. The evidence provided a specific diagnosis, discussed the severity of the health conditions, the treatment and detailed how the conditions would impact on the ability of the Teacher to engage with the process and take part in any proceedings. It was clear from the evidence that the Teacher would not be in a position to take part in proceedings and that to continue with the proceedings would have a significant adverse impact on her health, even with the protections that had been put in place by the Procedural Hearing Panel in July 2017.

The Panel was however mindful that they must balance such considerations against the public interest in such matters proceeding to a hearing, particularly in circumstances where the Teacher denied the allegations. The Panel was clear that the allegations were serious. It was important that the public had confidence in the GTCS as a professional regulator that such matters were taken seriously. The Panel considered that there had been a robust investigation and in issuing this decision wished to make it clear that such conduct as formed part of these allegations would result in a referral to the GTCS. In the circumstances, the Panel considered that this was sufficient deterrent effect to registrants in making clear that such allegations would be taken seriously by the GTCS. The Teacher had advised the GTCS of her intention to remove herself from the Register. In reaching their decision, the Panel was clear that there was an expectation that the Teacher would proceed to do so without delay.

In all the circumstances it was proportionate to cancel the proceedings because, although the allegations were serious, the likely effect on the Teacher of continuing with those proceedings outweighed the public interest in doing so.