The General Teaching Council for Scotland

General Teaching Council for Scotland Fitness to Teach Outcome

Procedural Hearing

7 March 2019

 Teacher Rodrigo Cintra (not present/ not represented)
 Registration Number 139150
 Registration category Secondary
 Panel David Hughes Hallett (Convener), Irene Kitson, Peter Hempsey
 Legal Assessor Una Doherty, Q.C.
 Servicing Officer Aga Adamczyk
 Presenting Officer Sarah Phillips (not present)

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 Procedural Meeting was arranged to consider the following:

The Presenting Officer’s application to:

  1. To allow the witness statement of Mother A, the mother of Pupil A to be received late and to be placed before the Panel at the forthcoming hearing.
  2. To allow telephone recordings of messages between the Teacher and Pupil A (for the period 11 July 2016 to 4 August 2016) to be received late and to be placed before the Panel at the forthcoming hearing.  Transcripts of the telephone recordings can be produced if that would assist the Panel.
  3. If 1 is granted, to apply for the anonymisation of Mother A during the Full Hearing and in the published decision of the Panel.

Information available to the Panel

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:

  1. Presenting Officer’s documents
    • Presenting Officer’s application
    • Signed Statement of Mother A
    • Transcript of Message Recordings
    • MP3 Message Recordings
    • Email from the Presenting Officer to Regulation Officer dated 9 January 2019
    • Presenting Officer’s case form
  2. Servicing Officer’s documents
    • Emails communication from the Servicing Officer to the Teacher
    • Delivery receipts
    • Telephone notes

Decision

The Panel considered all evidence and submissions carefully. The Panel noted that the full Fitness to Teach hearing is due to commence on 18 March 2019. The Panel noted that by email of 24 October 2018 the Teacher advised that he did not wish to take part in the process.

Parts 1 and 2 of the application sought to have Mother A’s signed witness statement and MP3 recordings received late and to be placed before the Panel at the Full Hearing. The Panel noted that, in terms of Case Management Directions, the Presenting Officer had been required to lodge productions and a list of witnesses by 7 November 2018. The Presenting Officer’s list of witnesses was lodged on 7 November 2018 and included Mother A. The Teacher had been provided with a copy of this witness list on 12 November 2018.

The Panel noted that the Presenting Officer did not make contact with Mother A until November 2018. It was unclear why steps were not taken earlier to contact her. Mother A’s statement was obtained over the telephone on 22 January 2019 and the signed statement was received by the Presenting Officer on 28 January 2019. It was when providing her statement that Mother A advised that she had copy recordings of the Teacher’s conversations with Pupil A. She forwarded these to the Presenting Officer. When the present application was made by the Presenting Officer, on 20 February 2019 the Servicing Officer intimated the application along with the signed statement and the recordings to the Teacher, inviting him to comment on the application by 27 February 2019. The Teacher did not respond. The Servicing Officer sent the Teacher another email on 28 February 2019 and left a voicemail message for him, advising that the application would be considered at a meeting on 7 March 2019. The Teacher has not responded.

Rule 1.7.17 provides
‘Subject to the requirements of relevance and fairness, a Panel may admit oral, documentary or other evidence, whether or not such evidence would be admissible in civil or criminal proceedings in the United Kingdom.’

Rule 1.7.22 provides
‘Where a party seeks to present evidence and- (a) has failed to comply with any direction for service of evidence given under Rules; and (b) has shown no good cause for failure to comply with the direction given, a Panel may refuse to allow that party to admit the evidence in question.’

The Panel first considered whether the evidence sought to be lodged late was relevant. It was satisfied that the evidence was clearly relevant. In 2016 Mother A had expressed to a Chartered Psychologist her concerns about the Teacher’s behaviour to Pupil A. This led to the school’s investigation and ultimately to this process. The recent signed statement mirrors the concerns expressed initially by Mother A, which included her concerns about telephone conversations which she had heard. The recordings of the Teacher’s telephone conversations with Pupil A were also clearly relevant.

It considered that there was no prejudice to the Teacher in these items being lodged at this late stage. There was already material in the case papers for the Full Hearing which gave notice of the matters contained in these late items. The Teacher had been given notice on 20 February 2019 of the application, and had not taken steps to oppose it.

Although the Presenting Officer had not complied with the Case Management Direction by failing to lodge these items by 7 November 2018, the Panel was satisfied that the items should be admitted, and it granted parts 1 and 2 of the application.  

Part 3 of the application sought the anonymisation of Mother A at the Full Hearing and in the published decision of the Panel. The Panel had reference to the Privacy and Anonymity Practice Statement. In terms of a previous Panel’s decision, the identity of Pupil A is to be anonymised - although he is no longer a pupil at the school, he is a vulnerable young adult. If Mother A is identified during the public hearing, as she is Pupil A’s mother this could lead to the identity of Pupil A being revealed. This would frustrate the purpose of the previous decision to anonymise Pupil A. The Panel determined to grant this part of the application, and so allowed the anonymisation of Mother A during the Full Hearing and in the published decision, although the Panel noted that in terms of the GTCS’ Fitness to Teach Publication Policy, witnesses’ names are not published in any event and so the second part of the application was unnecessary.