The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

General Teaching Council for Scotland Fitness to Teach Panel Outcome

General Teaching Council for Scotland

Procedural Meeting

21 December 2017

 Teacher Sarai Charles
Registration number 089547
 Registration category Secondary Music and Philosophy
 Panel  John Kilpatrick (Convener), Maureen Anderson and Lily Proudfoot
 Legal Assessor Robert Frazer
 Servicing Officer  Dani Tovey
Presenting Officer Gary Burton, Anderson Strathern (not present)
 Respondent's representative Martin Walker, 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;
  • the “Rules” (and any related expression) means the GTCS Fitness to Teach Rules 2017 or refers to a provision (or provisions) within them;

Background

The Procedural Meeting was arranged to consider the following:

  1. An application by the Presenting Officer for an order that the present case be cancelled in accordance with Rule 2.5.1(c) of the General Teaching Council for Scotland Fitness to Teach Rules 2017 (“the 2017 Rules”).

Evidence

In accordance with rule 1.7.19, the Panel admitted all of the documents and statements listed below as evidence for the purposes of the hearing:

  1. Letter from Balfour & Manson dated 11 December 2017
  2. Application by the Presenting Officer
  3. Statements of 9 individuals provided by the Teacher

Decision

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.

In the present case, the Panel noted the nature of the allegations against the Teacher involved shouting at pupils in an inappropriate fashion on 3 separate occasions in February and March 2016. The Panel had careful regard to the written submissions of the GTCS and the Teacher’s representative. It also considered the signed statements provided by the Teacher from staff and colleagues, including the current Head Teachers of both the primary and secondary parts of the school where the Teacher works. The Panel noted that these statements were very positive in their comments about her teaching capabilities and the level of support and confidence that the school has in her.

In relation to the written submissions, the Panel noted that the GTCS had carefully considered the allegations and the evidence in support of them. It noted that the GTCS had concluded that even if the allegations were proved then it could not be said with any certainty that the Teacher’s behaviour was sufficiently serious to amount to misconduct. The Panel considered that the allegations were relatively minor in nature and occurred over a restricted period of time in early 2016. There have been no other allegations or incidents involving the Teacher since. It further noted that, even if it was determined that her behaviour did amount to misconduct, it was the view of the GTCS that, having regard to her current circumstances, it was doubtful that her fitness to teach is currently impaired.

The Panel noted that the application to cancel was fully supported by the Teacher and her representatives. It noted that she continues to be employed and there have been no further incidents which have caused concern or affected her ability to teach. It noted that she has never been the subject of a previous referral to the GTCS in a teaching career which commenced in 1982. Attention was drawn to the statements submitted which were very positive and highly supportive of her. In these circumstances, and applying the test as set out in Cohen v GMC [2008] EWHC 581 (Admin), the Panel considered that it could not be said that there was a realistic prospect of finding her fitness to teach to be currently impaired.

The Panel also had regard to the public interest in maintaining public confidence in the profession and the GTCS as its regulator. In the circumstances outlined, the Panel considered that public confidence would not be undermined if the application to cancel were to be granted. It also considered that there was a public interest in allowing an otherwise good and competent teacher to remain on the register and to continue to teach without restriction.

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