The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

Procedural Meeting

General Teaching Council for Scotland

Procedural Meeting

Tuesday 21 November 2017

 Teacher XXXXX
Registration number XXXXX
 Registration category Secondary- Business Education
 Panel  Tony Bragg, Lydna Dalziel, Karen Greaves
 Legal Assessor Robert Frazer
 Servicing Officer  Gillian Sim
 Respondent's representative Alastair Milne, Balfour & Manson LLP (not present)

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;
  • Background

    This Procedural Meeting was arranged to consider an application on behalf of the Teacher to consider her request that publication of the Panel Consideration Outcome of 21 September 2017 be in private and anonymised in accordance with Rule 1.7.3 of the GTCS Fitness to Teach Rules 2017.

    Evidence

    In accordance with rule 1.7.17 the Panel had regard to all documents listed below as evidence for the purposes of the meeting:

    1. Letter from Balfour & Manson dated 18 October 2017 with attached Conditional Registration and Reprimand Consent Order, signed and dated 17 October 2017
    2. Panel Consideration Outcome dated 21 September 2017
    3. Email from Balfour & Manson dated 27 October 2017
    4. Submissions for Anonymity dated 30 October 2017 together with previous GTCS decisions in support of application
    5. Letters from GP dated 31 October 2017
    6. Decision

      The Panel took account of all of the documentation provided to it, as outlined above, as well as the relevant rules and the GTCS practice statement on Conducting Hearings in Private and the practice statement on Health Matters and Medical Evidence.

      The Panel considered carefully all documents referred to and, in particular, took account of the Panel Consideration Outcome decision of 21 September 2017 whereby it was proposed to dispose of the matter by way of a Conditional Registration and Reprimand with Consent Order which was signed by the Teacher on 17 October 2017.

      The Panel noted that the application on behalf of the Teacher was for privacy and to seek to anonymise the decision in order to protect the identity of the Teacher. The application was based on the fact that the Teacher is recovering from an illness and that publication of the decision and reasons were likely to have a detrimental effect on her recovery.

      In considering the application the Panel took account of Rule 1.7.2 which states that hearings shall be in public and Rule 1.7.3 which states, inter alia:

      “A Panel may, at any stage of the proceedings on its own volition or on application to it, make an order with a view to preventing or restricting the public disclosure of any aspect of proceedings. A Panel may do this so far as it considers it necessary where it is satisfied … that it is in the interests of justice to do so and the particular circumstances of the case outweigh the interests of the Teacher and the public in the hearing being held in public…

      Such orders may include (but will not be limited to) –

      1. An order that a hearing be conducted (in whole or in part) in private;
      2. (b) An order that identities 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 anonymization or otherwise) and whether before, during or after those proceedings;..”

      The Panel next considered the submissions made on behalf of the Teacher together with the supporting evidence. The Panel noted that the Teacher has been diagnosed with an alcohol addiction and is currently in recovery. The Panel noted that the matter admitted by her was linked to her addiction and for which she had been convicted and sentenced in a criminal court of Law. In particular, the Panel took account of the two letters from the Teacher’s GP dated 31 October 2017 which supported the application and set out her current symptoms and prognosis. The Panel noted that she is currently participating in an alcohol related treatment programme and in the opinion of her GP, the case and Order “is causing significant distress”. The Panel further noted the concerns of the GP that publication of the case and decision was likely to adversely affect her recovery.

      The Panel had regard to the GTCS practice statement on Conducting Hearings in Private and the approach it should take in considering such applications. The Panel considered that the bar for a case to be dealt with in private was a high one and for which there required to be strong and compelling reasons for departing from the general rule that hearings and decisions should be public.

      The Panel considered that in the particular circumstances there was evidence to support the application that publication of the decision may have a detrimental effect of the Teacher’s health. The Panel did not consider that this was sufficiently strong to meet the criteria for the matter to be dealt with in private. However, the Panel accepted that as the Teacher was still in treatment that full publication was likely to have an adverse effect of her ability to recover from her illness. In these circumstances it was satisfied that it was in the interests of justice that the Teacher’s identity be anonymised in order that the progress she has made in her treatment was not jeopardised. The Panel further considered that as she continues to teach it was in the public interest that the school and pupils concerned were not disadvantaged by being deprived of her teaching were she to suffer a relapse in either her mental or physical health.

      For all of these reasons, the Panel ordered that the Teacher’s name be anonymised within this written decision and within the Conditional Registration and Reprimand with Consent Order, signed by the Teacher, to be published.