The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

Panel Consideration Meeting Outcome

           

13 November 2017

 Teacher  Calum MacLennan
 Registration Number 057711
 Registration category  Secondary (Principal Teacher)
 Panel  John Leyden (Convener), Peter Hempsey, Lynda Dalziel
 Legal Assessor  Robert Frazer
 Servicing Officer  Gillian Sim

Any reference in this decision to:

  • The "Convener" means the Convener of the Panel;
  • "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

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 Rules 2017 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 24 July 2017. 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

  1. On 4 February 2017, at Glasgow Sheriff Court, you did assault XXXXX XXXXX c/o the Police Service of Scotland, and did kick him on the head to his injury and permanent disfigurement;

    And, on 23 June 2017, you were sentenced to a fine of £200 and a Compensation Order of £300

Information available to the panel:

  1. Notice of Referral letter dated 26 June 2017
  2. Notice of Referral letter dated 3 July 2017 (sent by email)
  3. Investigation Report dated 9 October 2017
  4. Investigation Report from South Lanarkshire Council |(redacted) dated 1 March 2017
  5. Copy complaint and extract conviction from Glasgow Sheriff Court
  6. Letter from Police Scotland
  7. Response to Notice of Referral dated 24 July 2017
  8. Notification of Panel Consideration dated 9 October 2017
  9. Further response and professional references received 2 November 2017

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

Response dated 24 July 2017 and further response received 2 November 2017.

Teacher’s response

  1. The Teacher admits the allegation in its entirety.
  2. The Teacher does not accept that his Fitness to Teach is currently impaired.
  3. The Teacher accepts that the appropriate sanction is a Reprimand with Consent Order for a period of 12 months.

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 Panel considered the following factors relevant in that the conduct alleged relates to:

    • Abuse of a position of trust
    • 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 has not been made anonymously or by a person who has failed to co-operate 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 3.2.2. (b), at this stage.

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 considered the circumstances which led to the criminal conviction on 23 June 2017. The Panel noted that the Teacher, Mr MacLennan, had attended a live recording of the TV comedy show “Still Game” at the Hydro on 4 February 2017 in the company of his wife and friends. During the show he had become engaged in an altercation with a male sitting directly in front of him who accused Mr MacLennan of spilling drink on him during the performance. Matters escalated to the point where other persons in the company of the complainer also became involved in threatening Mr MacLennan and intimidating his wife and friends. Fearing he was going to be assaulted Mr MacLennan kicked out at the complainer, striking him on his head. As a result, the complainer fell backwards and in doing so struck his head on a railing resulting in him sustaining a laceration that required his attendance at hospital where 5 stitches were inserted to the wound.

Following the incident Mr MacLennan was restrained by security staff. The police were called and Mr MacLennan was arrested and subsequently charged with assault of the complainer. When the matter ultimately called in court Mr MacLennan pled guilty to the charge and was dealt with by way of monetary penalty as indicated in the extract conviction.

Since the incident Mr MacLennan has been the subject of an internal disciplinary investigation and hearing with his employer following which he was demoted from his position of Principal Teacher. He co-operated fully with the investigation and showed remorse for his behaviour. He has also engaged with GTCS following the referral and has provided full written responses in which he has set out his position both at the time of the incident and since. He has provided a large number of positive references and testimonials from professional colleagues and family friends.

The Panel had careful regard to all the documentation provided to it and in particular noted and considered that:

  • Mr MacLennan had no previous criminal convictions prior to the incident
  • It was an isolated incident in an otherwise unblemished teaching career
  • There has been no repetition since the incident and the likelihood of repetition is extremely low
  • There have been no previous referrals to GTCS or concerns in his teaching practice over a lengthy career
  • There was substantial provocation surrounding the incident in that the complainer and his company had been drinking and were verbally abusive and aggressive towards Mr MacLennan, his wife and their friends prior to Mr MacLennan kicking the complainer once on his head
  • Mr MacLennan’s wife was pregnant at the time and he was concerned for her well-being and safety. There were other personal stressors ongoing at the time of the incident.
  • Mr MacLennan had been drinking which affected his judgement at the time
  • Mr MacLennan has shown genuine regret and remorse for his behaviour
  • Mr MacLennan has suffered ill health since the incident XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.
  • Mr MacLennan has been the subject of disciplinary proceedings by his employer, resulting in his demotion from the position of Principal Teacher
There were a large number of positive references and testimonials supporting Mr MacLennan’s abilities as a teacher, colleague and friend

In all the circumstances, the Panel considered that Mr MacLennan had demonstrated good insight into the incident and his subsequent conviction. It considered the likelihood of repetition to be extremely low.

The Panel considered whether Mr MacLennan’s fitness to teach is currently impaired. It considered that his conduct was remediable and there had been no repetition of his behaviour. It also considered it was an isolated incident in an otherwise unblemished career. The Panel concluded that given its finding that the likelihood of repetition was low and the insight shown by Mr MacLennan since the incident, his fitness to teach was not currently impaired by reason of public protection.

However, the Panel also considered that the incident was a serious one which led to a criminal conviction for assault in which a male complainer was injured and left with a scar to his head. In such circumstances, the Panel concluded that public confidence in the profession, and GTCS as its regulator, would be undermined if a finding of impairment was not made on wider public interest grounds.

By acting as he did, the Panel considered that Mr MacLennan had breached the following parts of COPAC:

  • “1.3 – you should avoid situations both within and out-with the professional context which could be a breach of the criminal law, or may call into question your fitness to teach;
  • 1.4 – you must uphold standards of personal and professional conduct, honesty and integrity so that the public have confidence in you as a teacher and teaching as a profession;
  • 1.6- you should maintain an awareness that as a teacher you are a role model to pupils;
  • 2.3 – you should aim to be a positive role model to pupils…”

Disposal

The Panel next had regard to the GTCS case investigation report and its recommendation. The Panel also 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 noted that the recommendation within the investigation report was the matter could be appropriately dealt with by the issue of a Reprimand with Consent Order for a period of 12 months. In the circumstances as set out in this determination the Panel considered that such a disposal was both appropriate and proportionate. In reaching this decision the Panel concluded that:

  • No harm had been caused to a pupil or child
  • The matter has been admitted by Mr MacLennan
  • It was an isolated incident in an otherwise unblemished teaching career
  • There was substantial provocation
  • There has been no repetition since the incident and the likelihood of repetition is extremely low
  • Mr MacLennan has shown genuine insight and remorse into his behaviour

In these circumstances the Panel concluded that the public interest in maintaining public confidence in the profession could be adequately addressed by the imposition of a Reprimand with Consent Order for the period of 12 months. The Panel further determined that the public interest was also served by an otherwise good and competent teacher remaining on the register.