The General Teaching Council for Scotland

General Teaching Council for Scotland Fitness to Teach Panel Outcome

           

Panel Consideration Outcome

20 September 2019

 Teacher Stephen McLeish
 Registration Number 067311
 Registration category Secondary Physical Education
 Panel  Gillian Fagan, Susan McDade and David Tierney
 Legal Assessor  Julie McKinlay
 Servicing Officer  Dani Tovey
 Teacher's representative  Martin Walker (Balfour + Manson)

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
  • "COPAC" means the GTCS Code of Professionalism and Conduct

Notification of meeting

The Panel had before it a copy of the notice 6 August 2019.  The Panel was satisfied that the Teacher had been provided with notice of the meeting in accordance with rules 1.6 and 2.3.1. Accordingly, the Panel proceeded to consider the case.

Allegation(s)

  1. Between 2016 and 2017, whilst employed by Borders Council as a Lecturer at College 1, Galashiels you did:
    1. provide excessive direction to students completing multiple assessments in that you did provide a copy of the marking schemes;
    2. fail to assess unit work fairly, consistently and in line with national standards;
    3. fail to provide adequate feedback to students
    4. fail to apply specified SQA assessments conditions in that you allowed assessments to be completed on an insecure website, namely Edmodo;
    5. misuse assessments;
    6. store assessments on an insecure website, namely Edmodo and in so doing the assessments were visible to other students.

Information available to the panel

  1. Final Investigation Report dated 7 August 2019 with appendices including:
    • GTCS Statement of Lecturer 1 signed and dated 2 November 2017
    • GTCS Statement of Vice Principal signed and dated 16 October 2017
    • GTCS Statement of Head of Faculty signed and dated 11 September 2017
    • GTCS Statement of Programme Leader signed and dated 24 October 2017
    • GTCS Statement of Assistant Principal signed and dated 19 November 2018
    • Letter to the Teacher from College 1 dated 6 April 2017
    • College 1 Investigation Report dated March 2017 including assessment papers and assessment information
      • Statement 1 of Programme Leader signed and dated 31 March 2017
      • Statement 2 of Programme Leader signed and dated 31 March 2017
      • Statement 1 of Lecturer 1 signed and dated 20 March 2017
      • Statement 2 of Lecturer 1 signed and dated 28 March 2017
      • Statement of the Teacher signed and dated 29 March 2017
  2. Notice of Investigation dated 26 June 2017
  3. Notice of Panel Consideration dated 6 August 2019

In response to the notice, the Teacher provided the following additional information for consideration by the Panel:

  1. Teacher's response dated 12 June 2018 and appendices as follows:
    • Basis of Integrated Assessment Document
    • SQA arrangements for : HNC Coaching and Developing Sport at SCQF level 7, SCQF level 8-version 05 (March 2017)
    • Curriculum Vitae of Teacher
  2. Teacher's reponse of 24 May 2019 and appendices as follows
    • Edmodo feedback- [name redacted]
    • Edmodo feedback – [name redacted]
    • Memoirs of the Teacher booklet
    • Photographs of football
    • Statement of Sports Coach
    • Statement of Football Coach
    • Statement of Football Prospects Manager
    • PRD Gracemount
  3. Response to Final Report dated 3 September 2019, including Statement of Nursery Manager.

Teacher’s response

The Teacher denies allegation 1a) and makes some admissions in relation to the remaining allegations and seeks to explain the context in which they arise.

Decision

The Panel considered all of the information available to it as described above. The Panel had a range of options open to it, as set out at rule 2.3.2 (a) to (f). The Panel had regard to the factors set out in the GTCS Panel Consideration Practice Statement.
The Panel considered each of the allegations in turn. The Panel did not consider it appropriate to dispose of the case in accordance with rule 2.3.2 (a) in relation to allegation 1a), 1d) and 1f). The Panel reached this conclusion for the following reasons:

  • The matter amounts to relevant conduct and there is on the face of it, a real prospect of a finding that the Teacher’s fitness to teach is impaired. The Panel considered the following factors relevant in that the conduct alleged relates to:
    • Other serious activities which cause harm and affect public confidence
    The Panel considered the relevant Parts of COPAC to be:
    • Part 1 – Professionalism and maintaining trust in the profession
    • Part 2 – Professional responsibilities towards Pupils
  • The matter is not over 5 years of age.
  • The matter has not already been considered.
  • The matter is not frivolous or vexatious.
  • The allegation(s) have not been made anonymously or by a person who has failed to cooperate with the investigation.

The Panel did not consider it appropriate to dismiss the case on the basis of an insufficiency of evidence as provided for by rule 2.3.2 (b) in relation to allegation 1d) and 1f). These allegations have been admitted by the Teacher. Furthermore, the Panel did not consider the referral to be malicious. 

The Panel did however consider it appropriate to dismiss the case on the basis of an insufficiency of evidence as provided for by rule 2.3.2 (b) in relation to allegation 1a). The Panel was in agreement with the assessment of the Investigating Officer as outlined in the Investigation Report.

Further, the Panel decided to dispose of the case on the basis that it was not eligible for referral with reference to rule 2.1.1 in relation to allegation 1b), 1 c) and 1e).  The Panel reached this conclusion for the following reasons:

  • These matters do not amount to relevant conduct. The Panel was of the view, having regard to the allegations 1b) and 1c) and the evidence presented, that these allegations did not amount to misconduct. The conduct should, in the view of the Panel, be regarded as being an issue of competence.
  • In relation to allegation 1e), the Panel was of the view that it was unclear, having regard to the terms of the allegation, what conduct this allegation was intended to refer to. The Panel considered that it was unfair to the Teacher to expect him to respond to an allegation of this nature and absent any specification this allegation should be deleted.

Fitness to Teach

The Panel went on to consider the Teacher’s fitness to teach as regards allegations 1d) and 1f) only.

The Panel carefully considered all of the available information and had regard to Part A of the GTCS Fitness to Teach Conduct Cases – Indicative Outcomes Guidance in considering whether the Teacher’s fitness to teach is currently impaired.

The Panel first considered whether the conduct fell short of COPAC at the time of the allegations. The Panel carefully considered the parts of COPAC and concluded that the Teacher had been in breach of Parts 1.3, 1.4, 1.5 and Part 2.2 of COPAC. The Teacher was required to avoid situations which may call into question his fitness to teach. The integrity of the SQA system relied upon the appropriate conduct of teachers in conducting the assessment process and required that teachers conduct themselves with the utmost integrity in their dealings with them. The conduct had been unfair to pupils as they had been required to retake assessments and called into question their integrity during the assessment process.The conduct fell short of the standards expected of a registered teacher.

The Panel next considered whether the conduct was remediable, had been remedied and whether there was a likelihood of recurrence. The Panel considered that the conduct was of a type that could be remedied. In assessing whether the conduct had been remedied and whether there was a likelihood of recurrence, the Panel had regard in particular to the evidence provided by the Teacher. The Teacher acknowledged that he ought not to have used Edmodo and that he had done so to ease the need for writing as a consequence of his health condition. The Teacher stated that he would not repeat the behaviour. In his history of teaching there were no issues of misconduct and to that extent the behaviour appeared to be isolated. The Teacher was no longer employed in a position which involved the SQA. The Panel noted that the Teacher had cooperated fully with the GTCS and it was clear that he had taken the allegations very seriously. In all the circumstances, the Panel was of the view that the conduct was remediated to the extent that it could be, and the risk of repetition was very low.

Nevertheless, the Panel considered that the public interest required a finding of impairment. Harm had been caused to pupils as they had been required to retake assessments.  The allegations were of a serious nature requiring the Teacher to act in accordance with the SQA requirements regarding assessments. The Panel considered that the confidence in the profession and in the GTCS would be called into question if a finding of impairment was not found in the circumstances. There was a need to uphold standards in the profession.
For these reasons, the Panel concluded that the Teacher’s fitness to teach is currently impaired.

Disposal

As the Panel concluded that the Teacher’s fitness to teach is currently impaired, it moved on to consider the appropriate disposal of the case. In considering this matter, the Panel had regard to Part B of the GTCS Fitness to Teach Conduct Cases – Indicative Outcomes Guidance. In line with that guidance, the Panel considered the available options from least to most severe. The Panel noted that not all indicating factors required to be present for a disposal option to be considered appropriate.

The Panel first considered whether a Reprimand was appropriate in the circumstances. The Panel considered that harm had been caused to pupils as they had required to retake assessments. The Teacher had admitted the conduct and had reflected on it. The conduct was isolated and there was no history of misconduct.
In view of the Panel, a Reprimand was an appropriate sanction to mark the seriousness of the conduct in the circumstances.

The Panel noted that the appropriate starting point is the imposition of the Reprimand for a period of six months. In the circumstances the Panel considered that a period of  one year   was appropriate in the circumstances to mark the seriousness of the conduct.

Having identified the appropriate disposal, the Panel decided to issue a consent order in accordance with rule 2.7. The terms of the consent order are set out in the separate “Consent Order” document.  Should the Teacher fail to provide his consent to the order, the case is to be referred on for hearing proceedings.