The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

Full Hearing

Full Hearing

1, 4, 5 and 6 June 2018

 Teacher  XXXXX
 Registration number XXXXX
 Registration category  Secondary, Technological
 Panel  David Brew, Lynda Dalziel, Arthur Stewart
 Legal Assessor  Julie Mckinlay
 Servicing Officer  Louise McMinn, GTCS
 Presenting Officer  Gary Burton, Anderson Strathern
 Respondent's representative  Darren Wapplington, NASUWT

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;
  • the “Register” means the GTCS register of teachers

Preliminary issues

Day 1

The Presenting officer made the following applications:

  1. an application for a late paper to be allowed as a preliminary matter
  2. an application for late papers to be allowed following the evidence of the Depute Head Teacher.

The Teacher’s representative made the following applications:

  1. an application for a late paper to be allowed as a preliminary matter.
  2. an application for the Teacher’s wife to be present during the Teacher’s evidence.

Late Papers

At the Full Hearing on Day 1, the Presenting Officer sought to lodge (i) an amended statement by the Depute Head Teacher; (ii) Higher Graphic Communication Core Assessment Task 2016; and (iii) Higher Graphic Communication Assignment Record of Assessment.

The Presenting Officer explained that the statement provided to the Panel in the bundle had been amended by the Depute Head Teacher but the old version lodged. On the whole the amendments were grammatical in nature but there were also a few points of clarification. The Presenting officer was able to provide the new statement which showed where the changes had been made. The Presenting officer invited the Panel to allow the late paper to be admitted on the basis that it was fair and relevant and that to do otherwise would mean that the witness would need to amend the statement as she read it into evidence.

The Teacher’s representative had no objection. He expressed the view that it was preferable for the witness to read from the statement with which she agreed.

Following the evidence of the Depute Head Teacher the Presenting Officer sought to lodge two additional late papers being the Higher Graphic Communication Core Assessment which was the final assessment marked by Teacher 1 with her markings on it for a pupil and the verification document based on the final assessment. The second document was in fact a colour version of a document already contained within the bundle at pages 59-72. The Presenting Officer was of the view that the documents would assist the Panel by clarifying an aspect of the evidence of the Depute Head Teacher in relation to the marks awarded.

The Teacher’s representative had no objection to the late papers on the basis that it was the position of the Teacher that this was not information upon which the Teacher had based his marking.

The Panel had regard to Rules 1.7.17 and 1.7.22. The Panel heard from both parties and considered the explanations given. In relation to the statement by the Depute Head Teacher, the Panel considered that in the interests of fairness and on the basis that there was no objection, there being no suggestion that the document would be detrimental to either party and indeed that it made sense for the witness to have before her the statement with which she agreed, they ought to allow the paper to be received although late.

In relation to the additional late papers produced by the Presenting Officer the Panel had heard from the parties and considered that as there was no objection to the lodging the papers and that the documents appeared relevant, that it was fair to allow the papers to be lodged although late.

The Teacher’s Representative sought to lodge a statement from DA, dated 29 May 2018. The Teacher’s representative explained that the statement was a testimonial as to the general character of the Teacher and was accordingly relevant. The Teacher’s representative said that the Teacher had just begun a phased return to work and the statement had been provided by someone he currently works with thus it could not have been provided earlier.

The Presenting Officer had no objection and agreed that the statement was relevant.

The Panel again had regard to Rule 1.7.17 and 1.7.22. Having heard from both parties, there being no objection and the statement being clearly relevant, the Panel considered that it was fair to allow the late paper to be received.

Application for the Teacher’s wife to be present during his evidence

The Teacher’s representative had indicated to the Panel that he wished to make an application to allow the Teacher’s wife to be present during the Teacher’s evidence on the basis that she was in a better position to calm the Teacher in the event that he got upset during his evidence. The Panel was mindful that an application had been previously granted for the Full Hearing to be heard in private. As such usually no one would be present during the evidence but those directly involved in proceedings.

The Panel expressed to the Teacher’s Representative their concern that to ensure fairness it might be difficult for the Teacher’s wife to interact with the Teacher while he is giving evidence and if she was to be present this may present difficulties in the Teacher speaking to her during breaks in proceedings. The Panel had no difficulty with the Teacher taking breaks when he needed them and his wife being available outside the hearing room to support him.

Having considered matters overnight the Teacher’s representative indicated that he would not make a formal application and that it would be better for the Teacher’s wife to be available to support the Teacher during the breaks in proceedings.

The Teacher’s bundle

Following the examination in chief of the witness, Local Authority Staff Member 1, and at the commencement of cross examination by the Teacher’s representative it came to the Panel’s attention that they had not been furnished with all of the papers submitted on behalf of the Teacher.

The Presenting Officer was able to confirm that he had received the papers timeously. The extract from the document which the Teacher’s representative wished to have the witness comment on was provided to the witness. On the basis the Panel would have access to the papers on the evening of Friday 1 June 2018 (Day 1 of the Full Hearing) and that Day 2 of the Full hearing would not commence until 11am, the Panel considered that they would have sufficient time to consider the additional papers. The parties were content to proceed on this basis. Given that the Presenting Officer had seen the papers and the only document from the bundle put to the witness was in fact one which the Panel had already seen, the Panel concluded that there was no prejudice to either party and in the interests of proceeding with matters in an expeditious matter they would review the papers over the weekend and prior to the commencement of Day 2 of the Full Hearing on Monday 4 June 2018.

The Panel was able to confirm at the commencement of proceedings on Day 2 at 11am that they had had sufficient time to consider the Teacher’s bundle it having been made available to them on the evening of Day 1.

Day 2

The Presenting officer made the following application:

  1. an application for late papers to be allowed.

The Teacher’s representative made the following applications:

  1. an application for late papers to be allowed.
  2. to allow the Teacher to have the questions before him that he would be asked by his representative during examination in chief

Late Papers

At the Full Hearing on Day 2, the Presenting Officer sought to lodge (i) the SQA Green Sheet dated 27 April 2016 and (ii) e mail from DM to Local Authority Staff Member 1 dated 16 January 2017.

The Presenting officer submitted that the green sheet was in respect of Higher Engineering Science and had been omitted in error from the Investigation Report. It showed the marks given by the Teacher and was relevant to allegation 1a. As the Teacher did not dispute the content of the green sheet it was relevant and fair to admit it.

In relation to the e mail in the course of the evidence of Local Authority Staff Member 1 she had made reference to the communication she had had with the SQA as part of the investigation and as such the email was relevant.

The Teacher’s representative had no objection to the late papers being allowed.

The Panel again had regard to Rule 1.7.17 and 1.7.22. The Panel, having heard from both parties, there being no objection and the papers being clearly relevant the Panel considered that it was fair to allow the late paper to be received.

The Teacher’s Representative sought to lodge (i) Graphic Communication Assignment- General Assessment Information- SQA 2015; (ii) Higher Graphic Communication Course Assessment Specification(C735 76) SQA 2016 ; (iii) Engineering Science Assignment General Assessment Information- SQA 2015; (iv) Higher Engineering Course Assessment Specification (C723 76) SQA 2016; (v) e mail from Darren Wapplington to DM dated 29 November 2016 and (vi) Updated statement by PL dated 28 September 2017.

The Teacher’s Representative submitted that the e mail communication with DM was relevant given the e mail between him and Local Authority Staff Member 1 which had been lodged by the Presenting Officer. The SQA documentation he submitted would be important to allow the Panel to make a fully informed decision on the allegations. There is already a statement from PL lodged and he will attend to give evidence personally.

The Presenting Officer had no objection to the late papers being allowed.

The Panel again had regard to Rule 1.7.17 and 1.7.22. The Panel having heard both parties and in view of the fact that there was no objection and the documents appeared fair and relevant to the issues to be determined, the Panel decided to allow the papers. As PL was to give evidence before the Panel it was fair to allow the updated statement to be lodged.

Questions before the Teacher during examination in chief

The Teacher’s representative requested that the Teacher be permitted to have the questions to be asked by his representative in the course of examination in chief before him. The Teacher’s representative stated that this would assist the Teacher to focus and to deal with the large number of questions which he would require to answer.

The Presenting Officer had no objection to the Teacher having the questions in front of him during examination in chief.

The Panel decided to allow the Teacher to have the list of questions from his representative in front of him during examination in chief. The Panel had regard to the General Objective which required the Panel to deal with cases fairly and justly and in particular to seek informality and flexibility in proceedings and to ensure that parties are able to participate fully in proceedings. The Panel was mindful that a previous Panel considered the Teacher to be a vulnerable witness. The Panel would not have the questions before them on the basis that not all the questions may be asked and the Servicing Officer would be asked to ensure that all that was before the witness was a list of questions with no other prompts.

Allegation(s)

The following allegations were considered at the hearing:

  1. On or around 27 April 2016, whilst employed by XXXXXX as a teacher at XXXXXX, you did:
    1. supply marks, with the intention of having them submitted to the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) for the assessment of four pupils as part of their Higher Engineering project, in the knowledge that the final assessments had not been marked and/or verified;
    2. supply marks, with the intention of having them submitted to the SQA for the assessment of a Higher Graphics Communications pupil, in the knowledge that the pupil had not completed the work required;
    3. supply marks, with the intention of having them submitted to the SQA for the assessment of a National 5 Design and Manufacture pupil, in the knowledge that the pupil had not completed the work required;
  2. and your actions at 1(a), (b) and (c) above were dishonest

Teacher’s admissions

The Teacher’s representative was asked if the Teacher admitted the allegations. The Teacher’s representative expressed the view that it was difficult to respond on the basis that he did not consider that the allegations made sense.

Nevertheless, in relation to allegation 1a it was admitted that marks had been supplied, with the intention that they be submitted to the SQA for the assessment of 4 pupils in respect of the Higher Engineering project.

The Teacher denied that the final assessments had not been marked on the basis that the Teacher had provided marks based on the work he had seen. The Teacher admitted that the marks he had submitted had not been verified. The position of the Teacher was that they did not require to be verified.

In relation to allegation 1b the Teacher admitted that marks had been supplied with the intention of having them submitted to the SQA for the assessment of a Higher Graphics Communication pupil. The position of the Teacher was that the assessment did not require to be completed in order for a mark to be submitted and for the avoidance of doubt that he submitted a mark based upon the work he had seen.

In relation to allegation 1c the Teacher admitted that marks had been supplied with the intention of having them submitted to the SQA for the assessment of a National 5 Design and Manufacture pupil. Again the position of the Teacher was, that the assessment did not require to be completed in order for a mark to be submitted and for the avoidance of doubt that he submitted a mark based upon the work he had seen.

The Teacher’s representative stated that the Teacher did not admit that he had been dishonest and accordingly that allegation 2 was denied.

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 lodged by the Presenting Officer and the Teacher as well as documents lodged by the Servicing Officer regarding notice of the hearing and a previous Procedural Hearing decision.

Findings of fact

The Panel gave careful consideration to all of the evidence presented and submissions made by the parties in making its findings of fact on the allegations.

The Panel had in mind that the burden of proof rested on the Presenting Officer and that the standard of proof required is that used in civil proceedings, namely the balance of probabilities.

Allegation 1a

The Panel noted that the Teacher did not deny that he had supplied marks with the intention of having them submitted to the SQA for the assessment of 4 pupils. However the allegation was that the marks submitted were “for the assessment of four pupils as part of their Higher Engineering project in the knowledge that the final assessment had not been marked or verified.”

The basis for the allegation that the Teacher had knowledge that the “final assessment” had not been marked appears to arise from a complaint made by Teacher 1. The only direct evidence before the Panel from Teacher 1 was an e-mail dated XXXXXX with an incident report attached. There was no further evidence from Teacher 1 in the form of an interview during the disciplinary investigation, there was no statement from her before the Panel and she did not give evidence. As such the Panel noted that the position of the Teacher was not put to her to allow her to respond and there was no opportunity for the Panel to ask questions of her.

What is said in the e mail is that she agreed with the Teacher that he would teach the Higher Engineering Science class from January 2016 as a support mechanism and to raise attainment and she asked him to focus on the 4 pupils as she had no previous experience of teaching engineering science at any level. This is consistent with the position of the Teacher that he was teaching the class during that period.

Teacher 1’s position is that she had “received the assignments” but had not yet marked them and that she confronted the Teacher about this. It is clear that what was received by Teacher 1 was subsequently marked by her and then by Principal Teacher 1 and neither attributed a mark to that submission that was similar to that which had been submitted by the Teacher on the green sheets. This then formed the basis of the allegation. The Teacher’s explanation for that is that what was submitted to Principal Teacher 1 was not what he marked and that the pupils had done considerably more which entitled them to marks.

The Panel accepts the evidence of the Teacher that he had submitted marks based upon work he had seen and that he was in a position to do so having been in the classroom with the Higher Engineering Science class over a period of time and in particular during the periods when Teacher 1 was absent. The Panel placed little weight on the evidence of the pupils to the effect that they had submitted everything on the basis that they had not heard directly from those pupils and the evidence of both the Teacher and the witnesses XXXXXX was that the pupils were unlikely to be clear as to what would gain marks and would therefore constitute evidence. The Panel accepted the evidence of PL that the last month can be fraught assisting pupils to ingather the appropriate evidence needed to be produced to gain and support the marks. The Panel was also content to accept that the Teacher had an A3 folder which had subsequently been lost. The Teacher was able to describe the folder in considerable detail and given the conditions in the department it was not entirely surprising that it might go missing. Some pupils recollected seeing it.

The e mail of Teacher 1 says that having received the assignments she confronted the Teacher on XXXXXX on the basis that she had not marked them. The Teacher stated in terms that this confrontation did not take place and that he was unaware that there was any issue with the marks until the meeting with The Depute Head Teacher on the XXXXXX.

On the basis that the Panel had not heard directly from Teacher 1 in evidence and there would not appear to have been any opportunity before the Panel or at the investigation stage by the Council to put the position of the Teacher to her, the Panel considered that little weight could be given to the e mail from Teacher 1 where it directly contradicted the position of the Teacher. The Teacher was clear in his evidence that he considered the description of events contained in the e mail to be a complete fabrication. The Panel considered the Teacher to be credible and accordingly to the extent that it may matter the Panel preferred the evidence of the Teacher.

However, in the view of the Panel it may be of little consequence in coming to a view on the allegation. That is because the information provided by Teacher 1 in the email to the effect that she “received the assessment” but had not yet marked them, appears in the view of the Panel to highlight a misunderstanding on her part as to the marking system in respect of the Higher Engineering Science assignment.

In the view of the Panel the e mail suggests that Teacher 1 received a final assessment to be marked. In fact as explained by KP, in particular, the assignment is undertaken over an extended period of time and is not done in one sittng. It is not an end of course task. Further it was explained that the marking is not done at the end (which appeared to be what Teacher 1 was proceeding to do by marking an assignment she had received and indeed in asking Principal Teacher 1 to verify it) but rather there is no requirement to wait until the task is completed. Credit can be given to the pupils for what they have done as long as it is to a specific standard. As explained by the Teacher it is a process by which marks can be awarded at various stages and can include marks for aspects which the Teacher has observed. It would, in the view of the Panel, have been appropriate to do as the Teacher described and keep a running total as regards the assignment. The evidence of the various witnesses who had worked XXXXXX supported this approach to the assignment in the context of the technologies. There can be no doubt that given that Teacher 1 appeared to accept that she had no experience of teaching the course and given the considerable experience of the Teacher in assessments in the technologies that his approach is considered to be the correct one.

This approach is also supported by the objective evidence in the SQA documentation. In the Engineering Science Assignment general assessment information the assignment is described as summative in which evidence can be detailed from an assessors notes and marks are awarded for various stages of the process from analysing the problem to reporting the solution.

In the view of the Panel there was no “final assessment” as suggested by the allegation which had not been marked given the nature and manner in which the assessment of the Higher Engineering Science assignment should be carried out. In the view of the Panel, whatever was produced to Teacher 1 was not all that could justifiably have been assessed. The Panel is of the view that the Teacher was in a position and had the necessary experience and opportunity to mark the assignment such as to supply a mark to the SQA. Accordingly the Panel find that allegation 1a is not proved.

Allegation 1b

The Panel noted that the Teacher did not deny that he had supplied marks with the intention of having them submitted to the SQA for the assessment of a Higher Graphics Communications pupil. The allegation was that the Teacher had done so in the knowledge that the pupil had not completed the work required.

There was much discussion as to the meaning to be given to the term “completed” in this context. The Panel accepted that any assignment did not require to be completed to attract marks and that in effect as explained by DT to “play for all the marks” available the pupil would need to complete every section of the assignment. It is not however necessary to complete the assignment to gain marks. The allegation is however in the view of the Panel to the effect that the Teacher awarded marks in the knowledge that the pupil had not completed the work which would justify that mark.

The pupil had been given an extension to allow further work to be done as he XXXXXX. The Teacher accepted that he did not follow the proper procedure and as such a formal extension was not given. However the Panel accepted the evidence of the Teacher that he had supplied a mark based upon what he had observed. He did not consider that the pupil would gain further marks and had given him an extension to allay his concerns, and in the knowledge that a well-presented project file could assist in demonstrating competence to potential employers.

The Panel accepted the position of the Teacher that the work subsequently submitted by the pupil was, despite what the pupil said, not what the Teacher had seen and graded. The Panel did not have the benefit of hearing from the pupil directly and as such less weight could be attached to his position. The Panel also accepted the evidence of PL that normally a pupil would be supported to pull together all of the available evidence and would not necessarily have been aware of what might attract marks with any real accuracy. The Teacher explained that he was off sick by the time the assignment was produced by the pupil.

It was clear from the evidence that this was the Teacher’s area of expertise and that he would be expected to be in a position to assess in the manner expected by the SQA and to be aware in considerable detail as to what would and would not attract marks.

The Panel having accepted the evidence of the Teacher found the allegation 1b not proved.

Allegation 1c

The Panel noted that the Teacher did not deny that he had supplied marks with the intention of having them submitted to the SQA for the assessment of a National 5 Design and Manufacture pupil in the knowledge the pupil had not completed the work required. The same issue arose as regards to meaning to be attributed to the word “completed”. In the view of the Panel the allegation is to the effect that the mark submitted by the Teacher was submitted in the knowledge that the pupil had not completed sufficient work to justify the mark.

The Panel accepted the evidence of the Teacher that the pupil had attended sufficiently to allow the Teacher to award marks. The Teacher said that the assignment had started in August and the pupil confirmed he attended little or never after December. The Panel accepted the evidence of KP that the objective was to give a pupil credit for whatever they have done and to trust the judgement of teachers. PL was of the view that the mark awarded was not exceptional. Again the Panel was of the view that having not had the benefit of hearing from the pupils directly and having accepted the evidence of those employed by the SQA to the effect that the pupils often are unaware of what they are being awarded marks for, the Panel accepted the position of the Teacher to the effect that he had seen work sufficient to justify the mark supplied.

The Panel found allegation 1 c not proved.

Allegation 2

On the basis that the Panel did not find any of the allegations 1a, b and c proved they did not require to consider whether the alleged conduct had been dishonest. Accordingly allegation 2 was found not to be proved.