The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

General Teaching Council for Scotland Fitness to Teach Panel Outcome

Procedural Meeting 24 January 2018

 Teacher  Teacher
 Registration number  XXXXXX
 Registration category  Primary
 Panel  Kerr Wilson, David Tierney, Maureen Anderson
 Legal Assessor  James Mulgrew
 Servicing Officer  Dani Tovey
 Presenting Officer  Gary Burton, Anderson Strathern (not present)
 Teacher's representative  Jamie Foulis, Balfour + Manson (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; and
  • the “Rules” (and any related expression) means the GTCS Fitness to Teach Rules 2017 or refers to a provision (or provisions) within them.

The Procedural Meeting was arranged to consider the following:

  1. An application by the Presenting Officer for an order that the case be cancelled in accordance with Rule 2.5.1(c).
  2. In the event that application 1 is granted, an application by the Teacher for her name to be anonymised under Rule 1.7.3.

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:

P1 Presenting Officer Cancellation Application, dated 13 December 2017

P2 resenting Officer Documentation

P3 Statement of HL

P4 Signed statement of JL

P5 Letter from East Ayrshire Council, dated 1 December 2017

P6 Teachers submissions and appendices – Part 1

P7 Teachers submissions and appendices – Part 2


Application 1

The Panel had careful regard to all the information before it. It took full account of the written submissions of the GTCS and the Teacher’s representative. The Panel noted that the application is made by the GTCS for cancellation of the case in accordance with Rule 2.5.1 (c) which states:

“At any stage of proceedings a Panel of its own volition, on the Convener’s direction or upon the application of a party…may...(c) consider an application for a case to be cancelled.”

The Panel was further mindful of the overarching objectives of the GTCS which include protection of the public and pupils; maintenance of public confidence in the profession and the GTCS as its regulator as well as the upholding of proper standards of conduct and performance. In assessing any case, the GTCS must always consider whether a teacher’s fitness to teach is impaired by reason of misconduct or lack of competence. In carrying out an initial assessment of any case, the GTCS must also be satisfied that there is a realistic prospect of current impairment of fitness to teach being established.

The Panel noted that the allegations which the Teacher faced dated from between 1 July 2010 and 31 October 2012 whilst the Teacher was employed as Head Teacher of Primary School 1, East Ayrshire. The allegations contended that the Teacher had failed to maintain adequate records and failed to follow East Ayrshire Council’s Anti-Bullying Behaviour Policy in a number of different respects on a number of different occasions in relation to the alleged conduct of one pupil towards another pupil.

The application by GTCS followed upon their having received a letter dated 1 December 2017 from East Ayrshire Council. The letter was written by the Council’s Depute Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer. The letter stated that the Council had reviewed the allegations and evidence obtained by the Presenting Officer and that the Council had conducted a further review of the evidence ingathered. The Council provided its detailed comments in relation to the particular allegations. In relation to the allegation of failure to maintain records, the Council was satisfied that the Teacher had kept appropriate records. They pointed to an anomaly with electronic records which existed for several years which resulted in records not being transferred to the next school a pupil transfers to. In relation to the allegation of failure to follow local authority policy, the Council’s position was that the Teacher had discharged all of her duties in accordance with the anti-bullying policy. The local authority also provided additional information in relation to the Teacher’s professional conduct, integrity and commitment to the pupils in her care. On the basis of the local authority letter and having reviewed the available evidence, the Presenting Officer submitted that there was insufficient evidence to establish sufficient prospects of success in a Fitness to Teach Panel finding the allegations to have been proved.

The application to cancel the proceedings was supported by the Teacher’s representative. The Teacher’s representative referred to the local authority review of the evidence and accompanying letter and submitted that the local authority’s position would be one on which a Panel would place considerable weight. The Teacher’s representative also shared the Presenting Officer’s view that there was no reasonable prospect of the allegations being established before a Fitness to Teach Panel. Further, the Teacher’s representative highlighted the “wealth” of positive assessments of the Teacher’s character, attitude, professionalism and excellent practice in relation to matters concerning the protection, safety and support of children.

The Panel gave careful consideration to all of the evidence presented and submissions made by the parties in making its decision. The Panel noted the position of the local authority. The Panel observed the detail in the letter from the local authority which indicated that a thorough and comprehensive investigation and review had been carried out by them. The Panel also noted that a responsible Presenting Officer was applying to cancel the proceedings against the Teacher. The Panel also observed the detail and analysis within the Teacher’s representative’s submissions supporting the application to cancel. The Panel also had regard to the public interest in maintaining public confidence in the profession and the GTCS as its regulator.

The Panel found nothing to contradict the analysis of the evidence contained in the application and submissions. The Panel considered the overarching objectives of GTCS referred to above. The Panel considered that public confidence would not be undermined if the application to cancel were to be granted. There had been a thorough investigation into and analysis of the evidence in relation to the allegations. The Panel was not satisfied that there was a realistic prospect of the allegations being established at a full hearing and, consequently, no realistic prospect of a current impairment of fitness to teach being established.

For all these reasons, the Panel agreed with the parties’ reasoning and determined to grant the application to cancel.

Application 2

The Teacher’s representative applied for the Teacher’s name to be anonymised in any decision issued following consideration of application 1 in the event of that application being granted. The second application was made in terms of Rule 1.7.3 which provides that: “A Panel may, at any stage of proceedings on its own initiative or an application to it, make an order with a view to preventing or restricting the public disclosure of any aspect of proceedings … such orders may include (but will not be limited to) – (a) an order that a hearing be conducted in whole or in part in private; (b) an order that the identity of specified parties, witnesses or other persons referred to in the proceedings should not be disclosed at such proceedings to the public by the use of anonymisation or otherwise and whether before, during or after those proceedings.”

The Teacher’s representative submitted that the likely press attention and reporting of the Panel’s determination of the first application and decision to cancel proceedings on the basis of insufficient evidence would cause damage to the Teacher’s professional reputation that would be unwarranted and disproportionate. The Teacher’s representative drew a distinction between the circumstances surrounding that decision and the circumstances around a situation where the alleged conduct of a teacher amounted to misconduct and the allegations were to be determined before a Fitness to Teach Panel. It was submitted that the naming of the Teacher alongside the reporting of those allegations would cause damage to her professional reputation which would significantly outweigh the limited public interest that there may be in those details being reported publicly.

The Presenting Officer did not oppose the application.

The Panel proceeded to deal with this application following upon a consideration of the papers and without the need for oral submissions. The Panel had in mind the circumstances of the first application and the reasons for its decision in relation to that application. The Panel again considered the overarching objectives of the GTCS referred to above. The Panel noted the nature of the allegations and concluded that they would be likely to attract press attention. The Panel noted the dates when those allegations had been said to have been committed and observed the considerable time period that had elapsed since then. The Panel had regard to the interests of the Teacher. Further, the Panel considered the public interest, the public’s view of GTCS as professional regulator and the trust and confidence the public placed in GTCS. The Panel also noted the fact the Presenting Officer did not oppose the application. Taking all of those factors into account, the Panel concluded that publication of the Teacher’s name would cause disproportionate damage to her professional reputation. The Panel further concluded that the public interest in the reasons why the proceedings had been cancelled would be adequately protected and satisfied by the publication of the decision in a manner that did not identify the Teacher.

Accordingly, the Panel directed that the Teacher’s name be anonymised in the published decision of the Panel to cancel the proceedings against the Teacher.