The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

Panel Consideration Outcome - Anthony Russell

Panel Consideration Outcome

27 September 2017

 Teacher  Anthony Russell
Registration number 881125
 Registration category Secondary Modern Studies
 Panel  David Tierney (Convener); Ijaz Ashraf; Patsy Rimell
 Legal Assessor  Julie McKinlay
 Servicing Officer  Gillian Sim
 Respondent's representative  Alastair Milne, Balfour & Manson

Definitions

Any reference in this outcome 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 2017 or refers to a provision (or provisions) within them
  • The "Register" means the GTCS register of teacher; or
  • "COPAC" means the GTCS Code of Professionalism and Conduct

Notification of meeting

The Panel had before it a copy of the notice dated 14 December 2015. 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.

Preliminary matters

No preliminary matters were dealt with by the Panel.

Allegation(s)

Allegation(s)

1. On 24 February 2017 at Glasgow Sheriff Court you were convicted  of the following:

a. Between 1 August 2012 and 31 May 2014, both dates inclusive at Celtic Football Club Learning Centre, Celtic Football Club, Parkhead, 95 Kerrydale Street, Glasgow and City Chambers, George Square, Glasgow, you Anthony Russell did pretend to your employer, Glasgow City Council, that season tickets were for the legitimate use of the Celtic Learning Centre, when in fact said season tickets were for your personal use and did thus induce said Glasgow City Council to provide you with funds to purchase said season tickets and did thus obtain £1039.00 to purchase season tickets by way of fraud.

Information available to the panel

1. Case Investigation Form dated 16 September 2015
2. Notice of Referral to Investigating Panel dated 14 December 2015
3. Additional Information e mail dated 26 June 2017
4. Notice of Referral dated 28 July 2017
5. Investigating Panel Report (redacted) dated 26 June 2016
6. Copy Complaint and Extract Conviction from Glasgow Sheriff Court

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

1. Response dated 23 August 2017
2. Statement from Witness A dated 29 August 2017

Teacher’s response

The Teacher’s representative in the response dated 23 August 2017 confirmed that the money had been repaid. The Teacher had tendered a plea of guilty to the charge. The Teacher has no prior convictions and an unblemished work record. The Teacher provided a number of supporting statements.

Summary of evidence and submissions

The Teacher pled guilty to the charge and was convicted of it in the terms set out in the allegation. The Teacher has no previous convictions and an unblemished work record. The Teacher has repaid the sums involved to Glasgow City Council. Statements in support of the Teacher have been produced which indicate that there are those who would not hesitate to work with the Teacher or trust him with money.

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 did not consider it appropriate to dispose of the case in accordance with rule 2.3.2 (a). 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 conduct is a criminal offence. The Panel considered the following factors relevant in that the conduct alleged relates to:
    • Abuse of a teacher’s position of trust
    • Dishonest behaviour carried out over a period of time

    The Panel considered the relevant Parts of CoPaC to be: 

    • Part 1 – Professionalism and maintaining trust in the profession

 

  • 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). The Teacher has been convicted of a criminal offence and the extract conviction was before the Panel. The Teacher pled guilty to said offence. Furthermore, the Panel did not consider the referral to be malicious. 

Fitness to Teach

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 Teacher’s conduct at the time fell short of the standards expected of a registered teacher.

The Panel found that the Teacher had breached Parts 1.3, 1.4, 1.5 and 1.6 of CoPaC. The Panel was of the view that the offence of which the Teacher had been convicted called into question the Teacher’s fitness to teach. The Teacher had been found to be in breach of the criminal law. The Teacher had failed to uphold the standards of personal and professional conduct, honesty and integrity so that the public have confidence in the teaching profession. The Teacher had failed to act honestly in his dealings with his employer and had failed to act as a role model to pupils. 

The Panel next considered whether the conduct could be remedied. The Panel noted that the Teacher had repaid the sums involved to his employer and so to the extent that the conduct could be remedied the Teacher had done so. In considering whether the conduct was likely to reoccur the Panel noted that the Teacher had repaid the sums involved. The conduct appeared to be out of character having regard to the evidence before the Panel and whilst the Panel had not heard directly from the Teacher, the Panel noted that he had pled guilty to the offence and to that extent appeared to take responsibility for his actions. The statements before the Panel indicated that the Teacher had never been known to be dishonest in the past. The Panel concluded that whilst they could not say there was no risk of reoccurrence they considered on the evidence available that the risk was low.

Finally the Panel considered the public interest. The Panel were of the view that there were no concerns as to the protection of the public or children. There was however, public interest in the maintenance of public confidence in the teaching profession, the maintenance of the public’s confidence in the GTCS as a professional regulator, the need to declare and uphold proper teaching standards and the deterrent effect that any determination would have on other registered Teachers.

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 a reprimand. The Panel noted with reference to the IOG Part B that a reprimand may be the appropriate sanction to impose where most or all of the indicating factors are present.

The Panel noted that the matter did constitute an abuse of a position of trust. However, harm had not caused to a child and the matter had been admitted. The Teacher had repaid the sums involved and had clearly reflected on the matter having pled guilty to the charge before trial. There was no evidence that the Teacher had previously acted dishonestly and the conduct has not been repeated. The Teacher had a long and unblemished career and had produced a number of supporting statements.

In all the circumstances and on the basis that most of the indicating factors were present the Panel considered that a reprimand was in the public interest indicating to the public and the profession the seriousness of the matter and thereby maintaining confidence in teachers and the teaching profession.

The Panel considered the period for which the reprimand should be imposed. Having regard to the circumstances and the fact that the Teacher had been convicted of a criminal offence the Panel considered the period of one year to be appropriate in the circumstances.