Full Hearing – Conduct – Teacher A

Teacher
Teacher A
Date(s)
4, 5, 7, 11-15, 18 March 2024
Registration number
[redacted]
Registration category
Primary education
Panel
Pauline McClellan (Convener), Diane Molyneux and Michele Knight
Legal assessor
Gerard Coll
Servicing officer
Aga Adamczyk
Presenting officer
Chris Weir, Anderson Strathern Solicitors
Teacher's representative(s)
Martin Walker BTO Solicitors

Definitions

  • ‘GTC Scotland’ 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 GTC Scotland Fitness to Teach rules 2017 or refers to a provision (or provisions) within them; and
  • the ‘Register’ means the GTC Scotland register of teachers.

Preliminary issues

Four preliminary issues were raised and resolved in advance of the allegations been formally read.

Anonymity and Privacy

The Teacher’s Representative made an application for the entire hearing to be held in private and for the Teacher’s name to be anonymised in proceedings. The Teacher’s Representative referred to his written submissions which included that:

  • The relevant Fitness to Teach Rules (the rules) which were engaged were 1.7.3(a) and 1.7.3(b).
  • The Teacher had health concerns which would normally be dealt with in private.
  • Identifying the Teacher by name would allow persons with knowledge of this matter to readily identify the child concerned, Pupil A.
  • In the same way, identifying the Teacher’s former school, where the alleged incidents have occurred, would also allow persons with knowledge of this matter to readily identify child Pupil A.

The Presenting Officer supported the application for anonymity and was neutral on the issue of proceeding wholly or partly in private.

The Panel accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice. The Panel had regard to the relevant Practice Statement Privacy and Anonymity Practice Statement, which was approved on 26 September 2018. The Panel recognised that the default position is that hearings should be in public, in conformity with the principle of open justice as provided in Rule 1.3.9. However, departures from a position, partly or completely, or permissible in certain circumstances and the procedural provisions were set out under Rule 1.7.3.

In this case, reliance was placed on the first exception to the Rule which provides that where intimate or sensitive details of the physical or mental health of a teacher or witness are to be raised as part of the case, this can justify a privacy exception. The Panel understood that the Teacher’s mental health was to be discussed during the hearing. Further, the health of Pupil A was also likely to be an issue. On the face of the papers, he had been identified as being [redacted], and it was alleged that the Teacher’s actions had resulted in Pupil A [redacted].

The Panel understood that it would not be practical or realistic to identify the points at which these matters would become relevant. They were likely to arise unpredictably throughout the hearing. In the circumstances, the Panel granted the Teacher’s application for the whole hearing to be heard in private in order to support, among other things, the right to respect for privacy of private and family life which is guaranteed under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). In addition, the child’s rights to respect for privacy are protected under the same Article. The Panel had the right to depart from the open justice principle under Article 6 (1) ECHR where the interests of juveniles so require. This is provided for in exception 2 in the Practice Statement relating to children. The Panel was satisfied, following careful deliberation, that the case could not be fairly and justly dealt with, where the privacy order extended to only part of the hearing. The risks of potentially breaching the relevant rights were heightened unpredictably. The Panel could not be confident that the hearing could be managed in an efficient manner under those constraints.

The Teacher also relied on exception 2 in the Practice Statement in relation to the application for anonymity. The Panel recognised that the school where the alleged incidents were said to have occurred is the only school in a small community. The alleged events are likely to be subject to discussion locally. Identifying the Teacher by name or the school by name would, in circumstances where the relevant year (2019) is still sufficiently recent, allow someone with knowledge of the background and circumstances to identify Pupil A.

The Teacher’s application for privacy was also supported by [redacted] of a public hearing would impact on the Teacher’s ability to participate effectively in the hearing.

The Panel was satisfied, following careful deliberation, that the case could still be dealt with fairly and justly where anonymity was granted.

Accordingly, the Panel granted the Teacher’s application for anonymity for those reasons and ordered that the Teacher’s name, registration number, and the school’s name be anonymised in any published decisions.

Admissibility of the joint statement of Witness 2 (Father A) and Witness 3 (Mother A)

The Teacher’s Representative submitted that a joint statement of Witness 2, Father A, and Witness 3, Mother A, the parents of Pupil A, signed individually in separate identical copies, was inadmissible.

The Teacher’s Representative submitted that a joint statement was a highly unusual departure in the procedure. It ran counter to GTC Scotland’s own guidance and was unfair. Rule 1.7.23 provides that evidence in chief will normally be by reference to a statement with supplementary questions, subject to the Convener or a Panel making a different order. If admitted, the statement would have the effect of two witnesses giving evidence simultaneously, supporting each other and blurring the lines between evidence that the witness could or could not speak to personally. Witnesses should prepare their own statements in a quiet and private area. Both witnesses attended an interview and signed the statement together. The Teacher’s Representative submitted that admitting the statement would materially disadvantage the Teacher procedurally. His right to a fair hearing would be diminished. Accordingly, the statement ought not to be admitted.

The Presenting Officer objected to the application. The context of statements is important, according to the Presenting Officer. Written statements under Rule 1.7.23 were intended to give fair notice of the evidence to be advanced. Supplementary questions were permitted in the procedure to help the Teacher’s Representative prepare his client for the hearing and cross-examination. The joint statement was unusual, but it did not create a material unfairness. Accordingly, the Presenting Officer submitted that the statement should be admitted in the normal way.

The Panel followed the Legal Assessor's advice. The Panel carefully considered the potential disadvantage to the Presenting Officer’s case if the joint statement was not admitted in evidence. The Presenting Officer would need to rely on witness memories and any relevant documents. The Panel wanted to make sure the Teacher received a fair hearing. The Panel recognised that there are times when deviating from procedure can benefit one party. A fair hearing might be called into question depending on the circumstances. The Panel considered that admitting a joint statement prepared by both witnesses, which dealt with issues each witness could not have observed or experienced in the company of the other, was more than a disadvantage for the Teacher. The joint statement would effectively support each other's testimony in an irregular way. The Teacher was at risk of not being able to challenge evidence due to amplification.

The Panel recognised that not admitting this statement as evidence would disadvantage the Presenting Officer’s case. His disadvantage, however, was not so great as that faced by the Teacher. He had other documents he could show the witnesses. He could ask them questions that would be subject to the usual rules of admissibility and fairness. The Panel decided to remove the joint statement of Witness 2 and Witness 3 after carefully considering the rights of all parties, with a focus on a fair hearing for the Teacher.

Hearsay evidence application

The Presenting Officer applied to have the witness statements of Pupil B and Pupil B’s Mother, Parent B, admitted as hearsay. Parent B told the Presenting Officer that she and her child would not participate in the proceedings and would not attend willingly as witnesses. Pupil B now viewed the matter as historical. The Presenting Officer submitted that the statements were formal GTC Scotland statements, were signed and dated, and therefore of sufficient quality to be relied upon,  and were relevant to the proceedings. The Panel had the power to admit them as hearsay evidence. The Panel could attach the weight that was merited, having heard and considered all of the other evidence in the case. The idea of forcing the witnesses to attend was considered but ultimately rejected. In the Presenting Officer’s view, it would be disproportionate to do so.

The Teacher’s Representative opposed the hearsay application. The statements were dated 2 years after the events in 2019. The Teacher’s Representative wished to cross-examine Pupil B to determine if Pupil B’s alleged running out of the classroom and distress were caused by the alleged actions of the Teacher.  Parent B’s statement contradicted other contemporaneous records. The Teacher would be denied the opportunity to cross-examine on the issue of his alleged aggressive conduct.

The Panel accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice. The Panel considered the issue in line with the Rules and Witnesses and Hearsay Evidence Practice Statement. The Panel acknowledged its power to admit hearsay evidence. Hearsay is not inadmissible solely for that reason. The hearsay must have the effect of depriving the Teacher of a fair opportunity to challenge the witness statements or to advance his own case without having had an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses. The Panel considered that on the face of the papers available to it, Pupil B is the sole and decisive witness on the issue of the Teacher’s alleged aggressive and unprofessional conduct on one occasion. This is not referred to by any other witnesses. The witnesses should be cross-examined on real and material issues to provide a fair hearing for the Teacher. The reliability of Pupil B was a live issue for the Teacher. The serious allegation against him could not be resolved satisfactorily by relying on hearsay statements. The Panel noted the Presenting Officer’s submissions that Parent B thought that the matter was closed and did not want her child to revisit it, and that the matter had been satisfactorily dealt with at the time. However, the Panel was not convinced that Parent B had given a good reason for nonparticipation in these proceedings.

The Panel decided not to accept Pupil B's statement as hearsay.  The Panel noted that Pupil B was the sole and decisive witness who spoke to allegation 3(a), and he refused to attend the hearing to give evidence. Accordingly, having considered the Practice Statement on Witnesses and Hearsay Evidence, the Panel was of the view that it was not fair or just to admit the statement in the  particular set of circumstances.

Whilst Parent B also refused to attend the hearing, her evidence with regard to allegation 3(b) was not sole and decisive as there was another witness speaking to this allegation, namely Witness 5. Accordingly, the Panel admitted the statement of Parent B as hearsay and noted that it would need to exercise caution when determining what weight should be attached to it.

Late papers

The Teacher’s Representative applied to admit a statement made by the Teacher and two worksheets completed by Pupil A in 2019.

The Teacher’s Representative stated that Rule 1.7.22 provided the Panel with a discretion to refuse to admit the late documents. However, they were relevant and would assist consideration of the issues by the Panel. It would allow the Teacher to give his best evidence. The Teacher referred to [redacted]. The statement also contained matters of detail. He also argued that this paper allowed for the most up-to-date information to be made available to the Panel.

[redacted]

The Teacher’s Representative said that being cross-examined and giving evidence in chief was likely to create stressful conditions for the Teacher. In the circumstances, there was a real and material danger that the Teacher would be unable to respond to relevant questions in an acceptable way. The impact would be that valuable evidence on his behalf would either not be obtained in an appropriate way or would be open to be undervalued as a result of the manner in which evidence was given by the Teacher. In the circumstances, the Teacher’s Representative said that the Panel would be justified under Rule 1.7.22 in admitting the Teacher’s statement. The Teacher’s Representative explained that the two worksheets were important to the Teacher. He wanted to ask Pupil A about the worksheets.

The Presenting Officer said that producing the materials late was unsatisfactory. The statement and worksheets could have been produced before the deadline to expedite a full and fair hearing. However, the Presenting Officer did not object to the late materials being admitted into evidence, recognising their importance and relevance for the Teacher's case.

The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel carefully scrutinised this matter in line with the relevant Rules and the Fact-Finding Practice Statement which refers to late papers. The Teacher’s Representative did not tell the Presenting Officer before the deadline that he was preparing, obtaining, and submitting these documents. There was no suggestion that the documents had not been contemplated prior to the expiry of the deadline. The Teacher's statement was undersold by referring to it as a document to be admitted late, which also downplayed the importance of its timely receipt. The Panel believed that the documents and statement were necessary to ensure a fair and just hearing. In all of the circumstances, the Panel decided to admit the statement and documents late. The Panel was persuaded that the interests of justice favoured admitting the materials related to the process, as the Presenting Officer had adopted a pragmatic stance.

Allegations

The following allegation(s) as amended in the course of the hearing were considered at the hearing:

  1. Between October 2018 and April 2019 whilst employed by Edinburgh City Council at School A, in respect of Pupil A who [redacted], the Teacher did:
    a) in or around October 2018, grab an iPad from Pupil A’s hands;
    b) on 9 or 10 January 2019:
    i. say to him, ‘looks like someone can’t read’ or words to that effect;
    ii. shout at him in an aggressive and intimidating manner;
    iii. force him to stand up in front of the class and read out loud as a punishment;
    iv. say to him ‘you are not a good reader’ or words to that effect.
    c) on 22 January 2019 call him to the front of the class whilst giving another pupil into trouble and act in an intimidating and aggressive manner;
    d) on an occasion between 14 and 22 March 2019 say to him ‘why are you speaking, you’re the one who can’t read in this class’, or words to that effect, in the presence of other pupils;
    e) mock him in the presence of other pupils by asking other pupils, ‘is this your best work, are you Pupil A?’;
    f) on numerous occasions and in particular on 14 March 2019;
    i. call him a liar;
    ii. say to him, ‘don’t you get smart with me’ or words to that effect in an aggressive and intimidating manner;
    g) on 22 March 2019 behave in an aggressive and intimidating manner towards him regarding his school work.
  2. The Teacher’s actions at allegation 1. resulted in Pupil A:
    a) being distressed;
    b) expressing [redacted];
    c) ultimately attending school on a part time basis.
  3. In or around June 2019, whilst employed by Edinburgh City Council at School A, the teacher did:
    a) act aggressively towards Pupil B, causing him to run out of the classroom in distress;
    b) act in an aggressive and unprofessional manner towards Parent B.
  4. On or around 8 February 2017, whilst employed by Edinburgh City Council at School A, the Teacher did act in an aggressive manner towards Parent C and did shout at her in the School A playground.

And in light of the above, it is alleged that the Teacher’s fitness to teach is impaired and he is unfit to teach, as a result of breaching Parts 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.6, 2.3, 4.2 and 4.4 of the General Teaching Council for Scotland’s Code of Professionalism and Conduct 2012.

Teacher’s admissions

The Teacher made the following admissions at the outset of the hearing:

  • The Teacher admitted allegation 1(b)(ii) but subject to the qualification that Pupil A was not forced as averred in the sub-head of allegation.
  • The Teacher admitted allegation 1(b)(iv) under explanation that the exact words used/uttered are not as expressed in the sub-head of allegation.
  • The Teacher admitted allegation 2(a) in relation to sub-head of allegation 1(b)(iii) only.

All of the other allegations and sub-heads of allegation were not admitted by the Teacher. The Teacher did not admit that his current fitness to teach is impaired and that he is unfit to teach.

Hearing papers

In accordance with Rule 1.7.17, the Panel admitted all of the documentsand statements listed below as evidence for the purposes of the hearing:

Servicing Officer’s hearing papers

  • Notification of Conduct Virtual Full Hearing, dated 11 November 2023
  • Procedural decision, dated 20 July 2020

Presenting Officer’s hearing papers

  • Notice of Presenting Officer’s Case Final Investigation Report, dated 10 August 2021, with appendices including:
    • Local Authority investigation documentation including:
      • Notification of Investigation letter to Teacher A, dated 24 April 2019
      • Investigating Officer’s redacted report, dated 28 June 2019 with appendices:
        • Appendix 1 – emails relating to investigation from 10 January 2019 to June 2019
        • Appendix 2 – notes of phone calls between various interested parties and where available, notes taken during those conversations
        • Appendix 3 – Notes made during a meeting between Investigating Officer and Pupil A’s parents on 7 March 2019
        • Appendix 4 – Investigative Interview Statement from the interview between Investigating Officer, Teacher A and Trade Union Representative
        • Appendix 5 – Action Plan proposed to Pupil A’s parents by Investigating Officer during complaints procedure.
    • Confidentiality key
    • Redacted mote of disciplinary hearing, dated 30 August 2019
    • Outcome letter dated 30 August 2019
    • Appeal form dated 18 September 2019
    • Appeal invite letter dated 2 October 2019
    • Appeal outcome letter dated 28 October 2019
    • Email from Father A to Local Authority Investigating Officer, dated 22 March 2019
    • Email from KS, Wester Hailes Police Station, dated 15 May 2020
    • Email chain between Parent C and Witness 6, dated 8 – 10 February 2017

GTC Scotland statements

  • Pupil A
  • Father A and Mother A, parents of Pupil A
  • Pupil B
  • Parent B
  • Parent C
  • Witness 5, former acting headteacher of School A
  • Witness 6, headteacher of School A
  • Witness 7, deputy headteacher of School A
  • Teacher’s response to notification of investigation, dated 4 February 2020
  • Teacher’s response to interim report, dated 9 July 2021
  • Response from Teacher, dated 17 November 2021 with appendices including:
    • El Karout v Nursing and Midwifery Council [2019] EWHC 28 (Admin)
    • Supporting documents
    • Table of extracurricular activities
    • Photographs
  • GTC Scotland Fitness to Teach threshold policy
  • GTC Scotland Fitness to Teach process and parental referrals
  • Statement of Witness 11
  • Statement of Witness 10
  • Statement of Witness 12
  • Statement of Witness 9
  • Statement of Witness 13
  • Statement of Witness 14
  • Statement of Witness 15
  • Statement of Witness 16
  • Statement of Witness 17
  • Redacted emails/telephone calls between Investigating Officer and potential witnesses
  • Notice of investigation, dated 21 January 2020
  • Notice of panel consideration, dated 20 October 2021

Teacher's hearing papers

  • Notice of Teacher’s Case
  • Statement of Witness 18
  • Statement of Witness 19

Summary of evidence

Witness 1: Pupil A

Pupil A affirmed, read and confirmed his signed statement as being true and accurate, and read the statement into the record.

Pupil A explained that he is now 16 years old and in S4 at high school. He became aware of his [redacted] during primary school, but he is unsure of the exact year when he discovered this.

Pupil A had been taught by the Teacher, in his primary 3 year. There had been no issues. Pupil A began to feel bullied by the Teacher in Primary 6 and was picked on all the time. Pupil A said that the Teacher had ‘made him feel like shit’. The incidents which led to this were not, individually, substantial matters. Pupil A described that a series of relatively minor issues had a gradual cumulative effect on [redacted]. Pupil A explained that this meant he felt [redacted]. Gradually, Pupil A had been unable to continue in full-time education in the Teacher’s class. Arrangements were made to place Pupil A, on a part time teaching programme which meant that he was homeschooled. Pupil A returned to his primary school only when the Teacher was not present.

Pupil A explained that he had been allocated an iPad for maths. He depended upon it for learning and compared that to the equivalent to a wheelchair for a physically disabled person. In his statement, Pupil A stated that the Teacher ‘ripped’ an iPad off Pupil A’s hands on an occasion, possibly halfway through the school year, when the Teacher, ripped the iPad and accused him of cheating. The Teacher stated that Pupil A should not have been using the iPad to find answers to arithmetical problems but should have been doing this more conventionally so that he could show working. Pupil A said that the work he had been asked to do was too difficult and so used the iPad. When it was ripped from his hands, he felt picked on and bullied. Pupil A said that he told his mum and dad straight away what had happened. Pupil A said that he felt ‘like shit’ and that everyone else in the class was perfect but him. Pupil A explained that he felt very down that he wanted to be perfect but was not. When asked questions about this incident, Pupil A stated that the Teacher ‘just took the iPad’ off him.

Pupil A explained that on another occasion, he had mistakenly placed the completed worksheet in the wrong pile on the Teacher’s desk. The Teacher drew the class's attention to this mistake by replacing the worksheet in the correct pile and saying, ’looks like someone can’t read’. Knowing that he was [redacted], and that reading was a particular issue for him, this had an impact on Pupil A, making him feel bad.

Pupil A stated that the class was preparing work for Burns week in which class members would be expected to recite Burns poems. These poems are not in standard modern English prose but were written in lowland Scots from the 18th century. Pupil A found this challenging.

An incident occurred when Pupil A was allegedly engaged with another pupil, which was a distraction from an activity not part of the class work. Pupil A recalled that the Teacher chose a punishment, which was intended to humiliate him and draw the class's attention to his difficulties in reading, accentuated by the lowland Scots subject matter. Pupil A recalled that the Teacher, demanded that he stand up in front of the class and read the poem out loud. There were ‘big, long Scottish words that I could not pronounce’. At this point, the Teacher was well aware of Pupil A’s [redacted]. Pupil A found himself unable to comply but the demand that he do so was repeated despite Pupil A saying, ‘I can’t’. Pupil A recalled that the Teacher became aggressive towards him in manner, saying ‘Read it, Read it’ at which point Pupil A began crying and left the classroom to go to the toilet. Pupil A stated that he could not remember if he had spoken to anyone about this.

Pupil A identified that there were a number of occasions in March 2019 which caused him distress.

A class exercise required the pupils to contribute work identifying the parts of their body that they liked best, as part of a social education module. Pupil A recalled identifying his head, in an inappropriate way because he could use it to head-butt. Pupil A was at that time an enthusiastic boxing and kickboxing sportsman, achieving a very high level of competence for his age group. He also identified his bicep muscles, which he named Johnny and Jimmy. Pupil A said that he rubbed out some of the entries before leaving for the toilet. On returning, the Teacher shouted at Pupil A, calling attention to him and suggesting that his work was poor quality. In cross-examination, it emerged that the Teacher’s case was that Pupil A had made a crude drawing of a large penis shape referred to as ‘a big Johnny muscle’. Pupil A did not accept that this was the case and suggested that someone else had rewritten ink over the top of what Pupil A had written and rubbed out. Pupil A accused the Teacher of rewriting what had been rubbed out. The Teacher then mocked Pupil A loudly in the presence of other pupils asking, ‘Is this your best work…’

Pupil A did not accept the Teacher’s characterisation of the drawing which resulted in the Teacher saying, ‘don’t you get smart with me’ in an intimidating way.  Pupil A did not recall any incidents where he was called a liar by the Teacher. Pupil A recalled that incidents occurred at this time in which the Teacher would behave aggressively and intimidatingly towards him, standing over him at his chair and referring to Pupil A using words like, ’don’t you get smart with me.’

Pupil A recalled that an incident occurred during a football game where he was responsible for hurting another pupil’s ankle in a clumsy tackle. Pupil A was clear that he had not intended to hurt the pupil. The Teacher confronted Pupil A, calling him a liar and suggesting that the injury was deliberate.

In cross-examination, Pupil A rejected the suggestion that he was much more badly behaved than other children in the class. Pupil A said that in P6 he was not even 10 years old and yet often was scared to go to school. School was meant to be a place where he would feel supported and safe. However, the result of the Teacher’s actions towards him was that he reached the point where he [redacted]. When shown the workbook containing the drawing and body parts text, Pupil A denied having written anything which could be misinterpreted as having a sexual context. Pupil A thought that the work he had done had been rubbed out and overwritten by someone.

Witness 2: Father A

As the Panel deemed the joint statement of Father A and Mother A inadmissible, it was removed from evidence.

Father A took the affirmation. Father A confirmed that he was the father of Pupil A.  Father A was taken to a number of exhibits, which included emails written by him to the school and other bodies beginning in January 2019. Father A recalled that he had taken action because Pupil A had begun to return home unhappy. Ordinarily, Pupil A was enthusiastic and outgoing, and committed to his out-of-school sports activities. There had been no issues at school earlier, even though Pupil A had been [redacted] prior to his P6 year commencing. However, in his P6 year, with the Teacher as his class teacher, a concerning change in the child began. He presented as being introspective and unhappy and had to be persuaded to attend training sessions with his clubs which he previously had very much looked forward to. His sporting performance noticeably declined.

Around 10 January 2019, Pupil A began to reveal the issues at school with the Teacher which caused this. Father A wrote an email dated 11 January 2019 in which he raised a number of issues, including the mocking comment ‘someone can’t read’ being used. This was an unacceptable thing to say because Pupil A has to use a coloured overlay when reading. He has no confidence in reading. The comment was unhelpful. Father A characterised the incident as mocking, which is as good as bullying. ‘You are a liar’, and ‘don’t get smart with me’ were the expressions that were used in a raised voice, and an aggressive manner was used.

Father A did not criticise the Teacher as a bad teacher, but considered that he may not have experience of dealing [redacted]. However, the comments were unprofessional, and a complaint was made. A meeting was arranged on 16 January 2019, attended by the Teacher, the school Head Teacher, and Father A. In an email following the meeting, Father A notes a number of issues that were discussed, including that the words, ‘looks like someone can’t read.’, left Pupil A ‘shattered and humiliated’. Father A observed that on the next day Pupil A was punished by being made to attempt to read the Burns poem out loud in front of the class which resulted in him becoming tearful and distressed, and humiliated in front of the whole class. Father A noted that Pupil A has struggled with schoolwork as a result [redacted] and had low confidence and low self-esteem. The comments made by the Teacher significantly negatively impacted Pupil A and compounded the feelings of poor self-worth and self-confidence.

Father A acknowledged that the Teacher had apologised and had agreed on steps to build bridges. This meeting did not resolve matters. Although Father A had discussed his son’s [redacted] with the Teacher, other incidents arose within days of the meeting. Pupil A came home in tears due to comments made to him in class by the Teacher. Pupil A did not want to go to school the next day. He was shaking and crying.

Further, Father A concluded that the Teacher’s actions were akin to abuse and resolved to take matters further. Steps were taken with Police Scotland to have Pupil A recorded as a vulnerable person. Father A made a complaint to the police, which did not result in criminal proceedings. Father A also complained to Witness 5 but felt that the resolution was unsatisfactory. Accordingly, Father A complained to the education board, which was also resolved unsatisfactorily from this point of view. Finally, acting on information provided to him by Witness 5, Father A made a referral to GTC Scotland.

In cross-examination, Father A did not accept that his son could have misinterpreted the Teacher’s actions and words. When asked if the Teacher was trying to help Pupil A, Father A stated that it did not seem to Father A that the Teacher was trying to assist his son. The Teacher had confirmed that he had no specific training in assisting pupils [redacted]. The Teacher said that he was keen to undertake this training, but Father A did not know whether he had in fact done this.

Father A said that his son's words would always ring in his ears. He recalled that his son had told him that he [redacted] because of the Teacher.

Father A said that his son was generally well-behaved and that no emails or phone calls have been made by the school complaining about Pupil A’s behaviour at school. Nothing like this had ever been brought to his attention, and he would wish to see evidence that this was the case. Father A took steps to have his son removed from the Teacher’s class and he was homeschooled for the remainder of the Primary 6 session unless there was a special meeting with his support teacher and the Teacher was absent.

Witness 3: Mother A

As the Panel deemed the joint statement of Father A and Mother A inadmissible, it was removed from evidence.

Mother A took the affirmation. Mother A confirmed that she is the Mother of Pupil A. Pupil A’s reading difficulties had been detected in Primary 3 and he was formally [redacted] when he was in Primary 4. Pupil A was privately tested by a specialist in Dunbar. Reports were available from the specialist.

Mother A was pregnant at the start of the Primary 6 year. Mother A became aware that her son was unhappy at school, beginning in October 2018. She recalled that in or around 9 or 10 January 2019, just after school resumed after the Christmas break, her son had come home upset regarding an incident where he had been told to read a Scots poem out loud in front of the class but was unable to do so. This was given to him as a punishment. At that time, parents of other children in the P6 class had contacted her through WhatsApp, saying that they felt that the Teacher was bullying Pupil A, and they felt really sorry for him.

There were several meetings at the school regarding Pupil A’s response to the incidents. Mother A recalled an incident in which another boy had pushed a button on an iPad, which had nothing to do with her son. However, her son was called out to the front of the class. The other pupil had run out of the classroom.

There was a ‘maths incident’ on the iPad in which the Teacher was angry with Pupil A, because he was using the iPad for maths work but not showing his workings. The child was accused of cheating. There were other incidents, including when the Teacher accused Pupil A of being a liar. Mother A identified a number of emails in the bundle which accurately recorded the history of events. As a result of meetings at the school, action points were agreed and recorded in the emails.

The incidents began to knock Pupil A’s confidence. He became a shell of himself, lacked confidence and expressed the view that he was not good at anything. He said that he wanted to be like another pupil who was doing well at school [redacted]. Pupil A said that he [redacted], and asked why he could not be more like the other pupil.

In cross-examination, Mother A did not accept that the Teacher was only trying to help Pupil A. She did not accept that her son was not telling the truth. Mother A explained that her son also has [redacted] which affects his fine motor skills. This prompted Mother A to seek private help for her son. The specialist suggested that her son’s concentration would be improved if he was permitted to doodle on a jotter while working in order to improve his focus. This recommendation was taken forward with Witness 5, but Mother A did not know whether that had been communicated to the Teacher.

Mother A said that she felt that the Teacher’s actions were mental and physical abuse akin to domestic abuse where her son was being ‘put down’. Her concern prompted her and her husband to pursue the matter ultimately with GTC Scotland because they were unhappy with the outcome of other complaints, including with the education board. At this point, however, she had no desired outcome for this process. The matter was now historical, and she was not now concerned about her son in secondary school. The only time that she had been unhappy and concerned regarding her son was during Primary 6 when he was being taught by the Teacher.

Witness 4: Parent C

Parent C took the oath and confirmed her signed statement as being true and accurate, and read the statement into the record. Parent C is the mother of another child who attended School A. She recalled an incident when her child met her in the school playground at the close of the school day in tears and very upset. The child explained that the Teacher had insisted that she cleared up a sink that was in disarray. The child said that she had been shouted at by the Teacher. Parent C said that she became incensed and approached the Teacher in the school playground. Parent C acknowledged that she was angry. Parent C is also a teacher. She recalled that the Teacher became confrontational and argumentative with her. The Teacher used words to suggest that Parent C’s child had not been brought up to show respect. The playground incident became a full-on argument. She accepted that she was upset but expected that the Teacher would respond professionally, which he did not. Parent C then left the playground and approached Witness 6 to complain about the situation.

Witness 5

Witness 5 took the affirmation and confirmed her signed statement as being true and accurate, and read the statement into the record. Witness 5 is the former Acting Head Teacher at School A. Witness 5 recalled Pupil A as being a quiet boy. Witness 5 said that some pupils quickly brought themselves to the school’s attention as a result of behavioural concerns. Pupil A was not such a pupil. She recalled that he was shy and retiring, even on a one-to-one basis. Pupil A was not prone to misbehaving which she was aware of. Most issues are managed very well in the school. Pupil A had not come to her attention at all until Pupil A’s parents’ complaints.

The Scots poetry punishment issue was brought to her attention in January 2019. When she met with Father A and Mother A,  they reported incidents in which Pupil A had been called a liar and concerns were raised about the Teacher’s treatment of Pupil A. Witness 5 knew that Pupil A was [redacted] and the Teacher also knew that. There was a discussion in respect of arranging a support for learning teacher and it was agreed that notes would be made on Pupil A’s record that he was [redacted].

A meeting took place on 16 January 2019 with the Teacher, Father A, Mother A, and Witness 5. The Teacher had suggested a meeting, and four bullet points were agreed in a summary, although no other meeting notes were taken.

Witness 5 recalled that she became aware of an incident regarding Pupil B. He had done something on an iPad that he was not entitled to do. He had been upset when he went home, and Pupil B’s parents were unhappy. Pupil B said to Witness 5 that the Teacher was angry with him. Witness 5 concluded that the Teacher had dealt harshly with Pupil B. Witness 5 recalled that there had been a Parents’ evening at some point afterwards, following which the parents of Pupil B wished to talk about the incident.  When Witness 5 discussed this incident with the Teacher, he was unhappy that the parents were challenging how he had dealt with the situation. His tone of voice was combative. In the discussion, he was challenging regarding the parent’s demeanour.

In cross-examination, Witness 5 recalled that the Teacher had apologised at the meeting of 16 January 2019. It had not been his intention to upset Pupil A. Witness 5 Said that the Teacher was very sincere at the meeting. Witness 5 stated that she felt that the Teacher was telling the truth; he would not want to exacerbate the situation.

Witness 5 stated that any incident at school was perceived by Pupil A to be a negative which he then repeated to his parents. His parents were upset and feeling very sensitive. There were other incidents involving different pupils, one in particular who was rude to staff and refused to follow instructions both in the class and in the playground. The Teacher mostly dealt with these things at classroom level and most of the time they were not brought to Witness 5’s attention. In respect of Pupil A, Witness 5 felt that things reached a stage where whatever the Teacher did would have been the wrong thing to do. Witness 5 felt that she did everything she could to resolve the complaints regarding Pupil A.

Witness 5 recalled an incident at a staff meeting where she felt that the Teacher had acted aggressively, but she decided to let it pass. The incident did not appear to have affected his relationships with the other teachers so far as Witness 5 is aware.

Witness 5 considered that the Teacher’s demeanour at the staff meeting had been combative. His tone of voice and demeanour could be challenging. Witness 5 considered that if the Teacher had spoken in the same way to pupils that he had tohis professional colleagues in this meeting, it would cause her concern.

Witness 5 recalled dealing with an incident between Parent B and the Teacher. There had been a difficult meeting in a difficult situation. In her assessment, she felt that the Teacher had not acted in a way that was productive. He had responded to Parent B’s assertions in a combative way. The perception could have been left that the Teacher had adopted the position that he was a qualified teacher and knew better how to deal with things in the class than Parent B did.

Witness 5 considered that two complaints from the parents of two separate pupils in the same academic session were unusual. That is more than she has dealt with in the same short timeframe with respect of other teachers. Witness 5 was aware that certain pupils could not be placed in the Teacher’s class because of a conflict that had occurred earlier. However, she was also aware that other parents gave glowing reports in respect of the Teacher.

Witness 6

Witness 6 took the affirmation and confirmed her signed statement as being true and accurate, and read the statement into the record Witness 6 was the head teacher at School A between November 2015 and October 2020. She is now Head Teacher at another primary school in the education authority area and has been since October 2020.

Witness 6 had been on maternity leave at the time that the complaints regarding Pupils A and B had been made. She had however dealt with the earlier incident complained about by Parent C. Witness 6 had only a faded memory of the incident, but she recalled that Parent C had been unhappy about an incident in the playground. The incident had concluded, but the Teacher, had insisted that there would be no further meetings involving Parent C without a member of the senior leadership team being present to facilitate that meeting.

Witness 6 returned from maternity leave after the summer break in 2019. She had been contacted by the parents of Pupil A regarding the incidents earlier. She considered that the school had dealt with the matter but not at the level that the parents wished, which was either a disciplinary outcome or further action. The parents wished to pursue other avenues including a complaint to GTC Scotland.

In cross-examination, Witness 6 did not accept that the Teacher had been allocated his P6 class because there were a number of children in that group who were poorly behaved. She accepted that there were times when a teacher would be allocated a class because they could provide a more structured setting with firm boundaries. The language ‘poorly behaved children’ is not used. Witness 6 recalled that she dealt with three or four incidents in which conflict had arisen between colleagues and parents. In respect of colleagues, some felt that they were spoken to by the Teacher in a way that was inappropriate. Restorative work had to be undertaken, sometimes in the form of mediation with the senior leadership team. There had been conflict with a senior principal teacher and the Teacher had asked that an impartial notetaker attend the meeting.

Witness 6 explained that the perceived characteristics of a particular teacher might be employed to match that teacher with a particular class. If for instance a class had been allocated a newly qualified teacher for one session, she might choose to match it with a more experienced teacher. Equally, where the class had experienced a job share arrangement, she would ensure that the class was then allocated one teacher only in the succeeding session. If there were any children for whom additional support needs were necessary, she would seek to allocate a teacher with a background in dealing with those needs.

Witness 7

Witness 7 took the affirmation and confirmed his signed statement as being true and accurate, and read the statement into the record. Witness 7 is the Depute Head of a primary school in the same education authority area as School A. At the relevant time, witness 7 was Depute Head at School A. In this capacity, he dealt with the complaint made by Father A and Mother A. He had no direct involvement in the matter, other than meeting Pupil A’s parents on one occasion. Mother A reported that Pupil A felt uncomfortable when the Teacher was nearby. The child felt that the Teacher looked at him in an unpleasant way as a consequence of the complaints which had been made.

Witness 7 was aware of the consultation involving the Teacher and the parents of Pupil B. This had not gone well. The parents of Pupil B reported to the school Head Teacher that the Teacher’s concern focused on Pupil B’s behaviour exclusively. There was no engagement regarding Pupil B’s schoolwork or progress. The Teacher adopted the position that behaviour was a barrier to education. Witness 7 undertook a follow-up meeting with the Teacher a week later, suggesting that he broadened out his approach to include educational progress rather than a narrow focus on behaviour.

Witness 7 was involved in a restorative conversation with the Teacher and Pupil B following an incident in which Pupil B had left class without permission having felt that he had been unfairly treated by the Teacher. Witness 7 had been alerted to the incident by a fellow member of staff. He located and spoke to the child who appeared upset and frustrated. He was grumpy. He was not in tears but was red-faced. Witness 7 did not recall the context of this incident. The Teacher and Pupil B had been able to discuss the issue openly in the restorative meeting and the Teacher appeared to be open to the pupil’s point of view, was listening and had engaged.

Witness 7 recalled that the Teacher was not comfortable with the way he felt he had been spoken to by Parent C following the end of school playground argument between them. The Teacher wished to have formal representation in any future meetings of this kind. The Teacher felt aggrieved at the progress of the meeting, feeling that he had been unprepared. No formal complaint followed this incident.

In cross-examination, Witness 7 noted that generally allocation of teachers to classes is done by the Head Teacher. There are occasions when a teacher’s attributes make that person suitable for particular classes. The Teacher is structured and created. He created a routine, and children need routine, structure, and boundaries. The Teacher had been assigned the Primary 6 class in 2018 because he had taught the same class at Primary 3 and, objectively, it had been a very successful year.

Witness 7 would not use the phrase ‘difficult pupil’ to describe Pupil A. He could not remember Pupil A. One named pupil, it was not Pupil A or Pupil B, was part of the P6 group. This child displayed consistent low-level disruptive behaviour because of his educational profile.

Amendment of the allegations

On 12 March 2024, at the conclusion of his case, the Presenting Officer made an application in line with Rule 2.8.4 to amend allegation 1(b)(iii) by deleting ‘force’ and to substitute the word with ‘repeatedly instruct’ to reflect the evidence heard thus far. The application was not opposed. The Panel accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice and approved the amendment on the basis that it does not cause injustice to the Teacher.

Following the amendment of the allegations, the Teacher’s Representative confirmed that the Teacher admitted allegation 1(b)(iii) as amended.

The Teacher’s case

The Teacher’s Representative explained that he intended to lead evidence from the Teacher dealing with Stages 1 and 2 together. The Teacher understood that having made certain admissions the case would necessarily progress to Stage 2.

Witness 8: the Teacher

The Teacher affirmed and read his signed statement into the record. In relation to allegation 1(b)(i), the Teacher did not accept that he would use words to the effect of, ‘looks like someone can’t read’. He said that this was not phrasing that he would use.

In relation to allegation 1(b)(iii), the Teacher accepted that he had punished Pupil A, by requiring him to attempt to read out loud a piece of Scots prose that objectively, the child would find to be very challenging. Pupil A had been talking to Pupil B, instead of preparing his work. The Teacher said that he could be described as someone who sets boundaries and, in his view, ‘it’s okay not to know, but it’s not okay not to try’. The Teacher accepted that it was an error to punish Pupil A in this way.

The Teacher said that his 2018/2019 Primary 6 class was one of the bigger classes containing 29 to 30 pupils. The year before, this class group had multiple supply teachers and he understood that he was selected as a class teacher because of his ability to instil organisation and structure, setting boundaries and routines for the children.

The Teacher said that this class was difficult. There was a culture of fear among many of the pupils who were intimidated by the gang mentality led by pupils A, B, and another named pupil. The Teacher felt that this class group were more difficult than his previous class which had been ’tricky’. These three pupils were the core group, but other pupils had aligned themselves with the core group and participated in bullying and other bad behaviour as a way of avoiding themselves being targeted by the core group.

The Teacher gave two examples of core group bullying, which included ‘tyre-tracking’ and an incident where the core group appeared to be intimidating a group of girls playing in the playground. Tyre-tracking involves standing on a child’s foot with the intention of causing the child’s shoe to come off. This causes distress because marks are left on the child’s shoe. In the playground incident, Pupils A and B were observed by the Teacher close to a group of girls in the playground, who were building a human pyramid. The boys were lingering close to the group and appeared intent on pushing the girls over. Pupils A and B may not have appreciated the physical harm that they could have caused but were nonetheless unpleasant and bullying. This kind of behaviour was characteristic of the core group pupils which included Pupil A and meant that the core group required to be managed closely in the classroom.

The Teacher said that it had been a struggle to control this P6 class. Building on his experience, he employed circle time and class councils as a way of involving the class group in resolving conflict. It was frustrating when the core group, including Pupil A, were behaving destructively, and deviating from the lessons to the degree that it hampered other children’s learning.

In relation to allegation 4, the Teacher recalled being approached in the playground by a Parent who was evidently angry. She stormed towards him and was extremely aggressive towards him. Parent C had only understood what had occurred from her child, who was upset. The Teacher found the situation to be intimidating. He had done nothing to warrant this behaviour. The Teacher accepted that he used a strong tone of voice, but not that he shouted. Parent C had been the aggressive one where he was not. The Teacher accepted that he was responsible for saying words questioning whether Parent C’s child had been ‘brought up properly’. It was ill judged and inappropriate. Equally, it was inappropriate to argue with a parent in the school, publicly.

In relation to allegation 1(a), the Teacher explained that he had removed the iPad from Pupil A’s hands because he had been behaving inappropriately with the iPad. There was no struggle or physicality in confiscating the iPad. The Teacher had removed it using the words ‘thank you’. The Teacher felt that Pupil A’s characterisation of the iPad as being equivalent to a wheelchair for a mobility restricted child was excessive.

In relation to allegation 3(a) and 3(b), the Teacher said that he had caught Pupil B misusing an iPad. Pupil B had accessed a function which allowed him to close the web browser which was been relied on by other children in the class at that time. Pupil B was not allowed to access this function. The Teacher said that he did not act in an unprofessional or aggressive manner. He spoke to Pupil B plainly but not aggressively.

With regard to allegation 1(d), Pupil A misremembered the incident and this episode, in common with other allegations is a misrepresentation of what the Teacher had said and what had occurred.

In relation to the assertions of words employed by him allegations 1(b), (c), (d), (e), and (f), the Teacher said that he had not use words like this. The Teacher accepted that had he said such words, they would have been inappropriate, and he would be keen to rectify any harm done, but he did not recall any of these words. The Teacher said that these are not words employed by him in his teaching practice.

In relation to allegations 1(f)(i) and (ii) the Teacher recalled that the incident related to classwork in the context of sexual health and relationships education. Pupil A had completed a class worksheet in which he identified that he was proud of his head because he can use it to head-butt pupils, and he had made a drawing on the worksheet in the shape of a penis which he called his ‘big Johnny muscle’ which he was also proud of. This was inappropriate and the Teacher took it up with Pupil A. Pupil A attempted to deflect the points being made by suggesting that the muscle he was proud of was one of his biceps, which he referred to as ’Johnny’ as opposed to his less-developed bicep which he called ‘Jim’. The Teacher did not accept that he had called Pupil A ‘a liar’ or that he had said anything in an aggressive and intimidating manner.

The Teacher accepted that Pupil A had been upset. He was not aware that Pupil A had expressed [redacted].

In respect of allegation 3(b), the Teacher accepted that his conduct at the meeting with Parent B was defensive. He said that he was not angry or combative. His behaviour was however ill judged. The Teacher said that if he had the opportunity, he would apologise for that.

In cross-examination, in relation to allegation 3, the Teacher considered that this incident had occurred in January or February 2019, rather than June.

The Teacher elaborated on the core group's bad behaviour. The Teacher felt that Pupil A manipulated another pupil to encourage him to act out by ‘pulling the strings’. In Teacher’s view, Pupil A evidently got a lot of entertainment value from the other pupil’s bad behaviour and the consequences. His martial arts prowess intimidated the other children in the class. His achievements in the sport were a credit to him, but the other children in the class were very wary of him. Some children attempted to associate with the core group, including Pupil A, as a means of avoiding becoming the target of bad behaviour. They would not incriminate each other but were happy to point the finger at other children’s actions when class restorative conversations were taking place.

The core group used the expression ‘snitches get stitches’. This was reported to the Teacher by other children in the class.

The Teacher said that he only became aware that Pupil A was finding it difficult to be in his class following the poetry incident. Pupil A’s parents claim that they had seen a change in him from October 2018, but the Teacher had not recognised that. Pupil A’s score for wellbeing did not indicate any distress or discomfort.

Pupil A’s parents appear to have formed an adverse view of how the Teacher was dealing with Pupil A. This appeared to be driven by Pupil A’s misperception and exaggerated reporting of events.  There was no willingness on Pupil A’s part to meet the Teacher in the middle i.e. to reconcile their differences. He could do what he wanted, and his parents would believe him. He was emboldened, and there was no willingness to meet in the middle. The parents took it as read that what Pupil A was saying was true. They would then go on the computer and report what he had said to the school.

Pupil A would repeatedly claim that the Teacher was aggressive. This was Pupil A’s perception, and it was very difficult to persuade him that this was not the case. The Teacher did not detect any real distress going forward, although he accepted that this was how the child was portraying it.

The assertion that Pupil A had felt humiliated had had a massive impact on the Teacher. Among other resources, the Teacher had relied on a book by Tony Bennett, called ‘Running the Room’. He tried to follow good standards derived from this practice, which included getting down to a child’s level and speaking firmly but not unkindly.

The Primary 6 class had been extremely stressful, and the Teacher said that he still has continuing issues arising from that experience. If there is a known volatile parent, then the Teacher would seek support from the senior management team at the school.

In relation to Stage 2, the Teacher said that he had learned a very great deal from these distressing episodes. This has influenced how he deals with low-level disruption. The Teacher learned a great deal, particularly in relation [redacted]. The Teacher said that he has developed a toolkit which assists him in dealing with [redacted] children.

The Teacher stated that he completed a 12-week counselling course in which, among other things, he had asked for anger management counselling, although he did not identify anger management as an issue in himself.

The Teacher explained that he had applied for and accepted an internal transfer to a different school. He had reflected on the incident with Parent C, and having read her statement led to him taking on board some learning. Were such an incident to occur again, he would speak candidly saying, ‘maybe this is not the time, please make an appointment’. Further, the Teacher said that he continues his professional development and has completed training on behavioural management. In addition, he has supplemented this by additional professional reading.

The Teacher explained that his own health had suffered as a result of the complaints taken against them. He had been signed off work for some time but had now returned to work. The Teacher considered that there were no adverse incidents at the school where he now worked.

Witness 9

Witness 9 affirmed and confirmed that her written statement was true and read the statement into the record. Witness 9 worked with the Teacher at School A until she left in 2019. She regarded him as kind, caring and nurturing. The school was open plan, and it was not possible to hide any incidents. She recalled that the only time she heard the Teacher raise his voice was in order to be heard. He was a good storyteller and engaged his pupils as an audience with different tones of voice.

Witness 9 recalled Pupil A. His behaviour was ‘not amazing’. Pupil A was someone who was particularly silly. He was rude and disrespectful. He needed someone who was clear and authoritative in order to control his silliness and carrying-on. Like all children, Pupil A had redeeming qualities, but he could be challenging and at times he could not be supported because he did not want to learn. The teacher had to work hard to keep them on track.

In cross-examination, Witness 9 said that there was evidence of a gang mentality in the P6 class. They were a tricky bunch of children and some of the parents were notoriously a bunch of complainers. These parents were in cahoots with each other. The witness recalled that there was a culture of fear in relation to the class which she could observe.

Witness 9 was a direct witness to the Parent C incident. Her child was [redacted]. She personifies as an [redacted]. Parent C is equally highly emotional. In the playground incident, Parent C was the aggressor. She came storming through the playground gates, shouting at the Teacher  repeatedly and not listening to what he was saying. Parent C is also a teacher in Edinburgh and should know better than to approach a teacher in this way. The Teacher  was not being heard although he was raising his voice. Witness 9 offered the view that this Panel should not be concerned with this matter. She respected the fact that the Teacher  did not ‘blow his top’. Witness 9 was not sure what the Teacher  did wrong on this occasion. Parent A complained about a lot of things at School A. If her child went home upset, Parent C would write an email to the school.  Witness 9 said that Parent C would email complaints to her but that they were resolved between them.

In relation to the allegations generally, she considered that Father A and Mother A were engaged in a witch hunt. This GTC Scotland process is hugely unfair, and the allegations are disgusting and untrue. The parents did not get very far with the  school complaint or with the local authority and so have taken matters up with GTC Scotland as part of a grudge. Witness 9 said that Father A and Mother A were notorious complainers. Statements have been twisted. She looked at the allegations against the Teacher on the GTC Scotland website. Many of the allegations are subjective. Witness 9 said that she did not think the allegations matched with reality and did not believe the Teacher would behave in that way.  While Witness 9 did not dismiss the child’s feelings, she believed that Pupil A had twisted the situation to suit himself. Witness 9 does not believe that what the child was saying, matched what is true. She finds them all quite unbelievable.

Witness 10

Witness 10 took the oath and confirmed her signed statement as being true and accurate, and read the statement into the record. Witness 10 had been the school administrator at School A. Witness 10 is now employed as a payroll specialist in a private care company.

Witness 10 remembered Pupil A. His normal self was to be consistently cheeky. She observed that he was smirking at the control he had over the situation. Witness 10 had witnessed Pupil A behaving badly on several occasions. Both he and Pupil B were very naughty children. Witness 10 observed the Teacher managing these boys' behaviour. He had a good level of control over them and got their class into a good place. Witness 10 never witnessed the Teacher reprimand people.

Pupil A had an extreme behavioural issue. He and the other boys associated with him did not pay attention, would distract the other children, muck around and make rude gestures. She did not observe this personally, but it was something that was talked about in the staffroom by the Pupil Support Assistant who worked in the classroom.

Pupil A was smug and would smirk at the control he had and would tell other children that he got the Teacher fired. He said that in the playground, and this was heard by another child who reported to their mother.

Emails sent to the school would pass through Witness 10’s hands. Some of them were so unkind that she would not pass them on. She would ask the parent to rephrase the email in different words or she would not pass it on. Parents would sometimes join social media groups and exchange reports posted on forums which were publicly available. Witness 10 read the posts. Witness 10 considered that the allegations against the Teacher were a witch hunt by Mother A and Father A. This was openly discussed among staff. There was an assumption that the parents had made up their minds to try to get the Teacher fired and had spoken about it openly in front of  Pupil A.

In relation to Parent C, Witness 10 considered that she was feral in the way she approached people. There was no politeness or kindness in the way she emailed or spoke to people. She was not very well liked among parents at the school or her peers. Witness 10, however, considers that she is a ‘great teacher’ although her behaviour is wrong.

Witness 11

Witness 11 affirmed and confirmed that her written statement was true and read the statement into the record.

Witness 11 is a physiotherapist but lives locally in a small community and had experience of Pupil A as part of an out-of-school group that she assisted with. Witness 11 had a good opinion of the Teacher and did not accept that he would raise his voice at children or behave badly. Pupil A on the other hand was badly behaved and impertinent in the out-of-school group. Witness 11’s son was taught by the Teacher and never experienced shouting.

Witness 11 described Parent C as a ‘Facebook warrior’. She would exchange posts with other highly motivated complaining parents.

Submissions on the alleged facts

Presenting Officer's submissions

The Presenting Officer invited the Panel to find allegation 1(d) not proved. He submitted that the Panel should find the allegations admitted by the Teacher as proven by his admissions.

The Presenting Officer referred the Panel to the Practice Statement Fact Finding in Fitness to Teach Conduct Cases which, among other things, reminded the Panel that the burden of proof rested with GTC Scotland, and the standard of proof was the civil standard of balance of probabilities.

The Presenting Officer reminded the Panel that there were a number of contemporary documents available whose content had not been challenged. These included the local investigation, statements provided closer to the time of the events than this hearing and emails written as events developed by Father A. The evidence given by the GTC Scotland witnesses was supported by the details in the contemporary documents and was consistent with them. In addition, the witnesses were restrained in their presentation and where they were unable to remember something they would candidly explain that they could not recall. In summary, the witnesses were not prone to exaggeration, there were no grounds to assert that they were motivated by any ill will towards the Teacher. The witnesses, in particular Mother A and Father A, gave their evidence in an open, honest, and straightforward way without embellishment. In particular, Father A had said that the Teacher is not, in his view, a bad teacher. The matters were pursued at the time because of the distressing consequences for Pupil A.

The Presenting Officer submitted that Witness 7 had provided open, honest, and transparent evidence which did not support any assertion that Pupil A was disruptive. Witness 7 considered that Pupil A had not drawn adverse attention. Witness 7 gave credible and reliable evidence that the Teacher’s P6 class were unremarkable and that the only pupil who could be regarded as disruptive had not been Pupil A.

In contrast, the Presenting Officer suggested that the Panel should approach the evidence of the Teacher with great caution. He said that the Teacher’s evidence was neither credible nor reliable in the starkest of terms. When asked straightforward questions, the Teacher’s response was confused and at times confusing. There were elements of his evidence that were simply not credible or were flatly denied by witnesses who had no reason to do so. Witness 6 did not accept that the Teacher was allocated this P6 group because of his ability to control a disruptive, badly behaved group.

The Presenting Officer invited the Panel to place little reliance on the evidence of the other witnesses called by the Teacher. The witnesses had used expressions which were identical. The witnesses appeared to strongly favour the Teacher, were unable to accept that there was any truth in the allegations and expressed strong views regarding Pupil A and his parents which were excessive and tainted with bias.

In relation to the allegations, the Presenting Officer invited the Panel to find that the evidence was sufficient, cogent, and persuasive.

With regard to allegation 1(a), the Presenting Officer submitted that Pupil A speaks to this incident in both his statement at paragraph 4. He adopted that in evidence and was consistent in all material respects with his GTC Scotland statement. His position in evidence was the iPad was ripped from his hands.

With regard to allegations 1(b)(i) and 1(b)(ii), there is a contemporaneous note in the form of an email from Father A raising his concerns with the Acting Head Teacher following Pupil A reporting it to him. These events are documented in the contemporaneous letter in the bundle. The Panel can rely on this in its entirety and find the allegation proved in its entirety.

With regard to allegation 1 (b)(iii), it has been admitted and as such ought to be found proved.

There seems to be no dispute that Pupil A was called to the front of the class after Pupil B accessed content in an iPad app he was not supposed to. The dispute is whether the Teacher acted in an intimidating manner or not. Pupil A spoke to this. The Panel can find this proved. It is inconceivable why there was any need to call Pupil A to the front of the class at all.

There is a contemporaneous record of this in the bundle which was consistent in all material respects with the evidence Pupil A and his parents gave. The Panel should prefer Pupil A’s evidence and find this proved.

With regard to allegation 1(d), this specific comment on that date was not spoken to directly in evidence and the statement from the parents of Pupil A was the only documented evidence of this being made. That document was ruled to be inadmissible as evidence. On that basis, the Presenting Officer invited the Panel to find the allegation not proven.

With regard to allegation 1(e), the Presenting Officer submitted that this can be proved on the basis of the contemporaneous email of this event and comes from Father A in an email reproduced in the bundle which was spoken to in evidence.

With regard to allegations 1(f)(i) and 1(f)(ii), the Presenting Officer submitted that both these comments are spoken to directly by Pupil A in his statement. He spoke to a specific incident involving a football match. The Panel has the contemporaneous email from Father A which is broadly consistent in all material respects of these comments being made on more than one occasion.

The bundle documented an incident on 14 March 2019 where Pupil A was called a liar and was told ‘don’t you get smart with me’. Therefore, the Presenting Officer invited the Panel to find these allegations to be proven.

With regard to allegation 1(g), the Presenting Officer submitted that the

bundle contains a contemporaneous email which documents this event had happened. This was spoken to in evidence by Father A as an accurate reflection of what Pupil A reported to him at the time.

This appears to be spoken to by Pupil A in his statement and he made reference to being intimidated in reference to an issue with doodling on his worksheet. This allegation can be proved.

With regard to allegations 2(a), 2(b) and 2(c), the Presenting Officer submitted that Pupil A and his parents spoke in evidence to this supported by contemporaneous emails about a deterioration in Pupil A’s confidence, the fact he said he [redacted] which both took to mean he [redacted] and ultimately leading to the parents reducing Pupil A’s hours. This allegation can be proved.

With regard to allegation 3(a), the Presenting Officer submitted that the date here appears to be wrong, and the Teacher has clarified that helpfully in his evidence. It appears this is in reference to the iPad incident, which is spoken to by Parent B in her statement. The position is consistent with Witness 7’s understanding of what happened, having assisted Pupil B back to the class. It is supported by an email from Father A which speaks to this incident.

With regard to allegation 3(b), the Presenting Officer submitted that Parent B speaks to this in her statement. The Teacher suggests some sort of incident occurred with Pupil B but not intimidating and it was the same incident when Pupil A was called to the front of the class.

Based on the evidence of Parent B and Witness 5, the Panel can find allegation 3(b) proved. The allegation is supported by Witness 5 who described the Teacher as combative.

With regard to allegation 4, the  Presenting Officer submitted that Parent C spoke to this incident both in her GTC Scotland statement and in evidence. Witness 10 and the Teacher accept that an altercation took place although they place Parent C as the aggressor. Parent C recalled a specific comment and the Teacher reacting in an aggressive manner and shouted at her. Witness 10 downplayed this incident and did not accept that the Teacher was heated which was in contrast to the Teacher’s own evidence. On the basis of Parent C’s evidence being preferred, the Panel can find this allegation proved.

The Presenting Officer submitted that the allegations were proved on the balance of probabilities with the exception of allegation 1d. Provided that the Panel accepted the position with allegation 3 being part of allegation 1(c) described at allegation 3, the Panel is in a position to amend the date to meet the accepted evidence. This would cause no injustice. The seriousness of the allegation remains the same and the Teacher was adequately able to defend his position.

The Teacher’s Representative submissions

The Teacher’s Representative submitted that the Teacher had admitted allegation 1(b)(iii) as amended, 1(b)(iv) under explanation that the words uttered were not those alleged and allegation 2(a) in relation to allegation 1(b)(iii).

The Teacher’s Representative invited the Panel to find that all of the other allegations were not proved on the balance of probability. He invited the Panel to have regard to the Practice Statement on Fact Finding which guides Panels in regard to the credibility and reliability of witnesses.

The Teacher’s Representative invited the Panel to find that Pupil A was neither credible nor reliable. Despite his belief that he had not done anything wrong, he was part of a disruptive core group and frequently reprimanded by the Teacher. Pupil A’s evidence attacked the Teacher’s probity and accused him of deliberately falsifying and over-writing a worksheet. Pupil A misperceived the Teacher’s actions and related every incident to his parents. Mother A and Father A then acted on these reports uncritically and conducted a targeted campaign against the Teacher, recruiting others and in particular Parent C. They had not directly witnessed any of the incidents. Mother A and Father A were equally not credible or reliable. Parent B’s hearsay statement weighed very little. Parent C was a ‘hot-headed and confrontational character and while she may have perceived that she was having a shouting match with the Teacher the other evidence in the hearing does not match her account.’ Witnesses 5, 6 and 7 were indirect witnesses who were unable to add materially to the enquiry. The Teacher’s Representative considered that the witnesses were ‘selective in their answers and with the information they were willing to share and did not always strive to assist the Panel.’

In contrast, the Teacher’s Representative submitted that the Teacher was honest, thoughtful, and candid, in his evidence. He had made relevant admissions. The Teacher’s evidence should be accepted in preference to any of the GTC Scotland witnesses.

In regard to witnesses 9, 10 and 11 called on behalf of the Teacher, the Teacher’s Representative invited the Panel to find that they each were credible and reliable. They were disinterested and unbiased witnesses.

The Teacher’s Representative made the following submissions in relation to the allegations.

With regard to allegation 1(a), the Teacher’s Representative submitted that the only direct evidence for this comes from Pupil A. Pupil A in his statement dated 31 March 2021 claims that the Teacher ripped the iPad from him. In his evidence in chief, Pupil A was asked to describe ‘ripping’ and he said, ‘he just took it off me’. He did not describe any force used or grabbing taking place. In cross-examination, Pupil A again stated that the Teacher ’just took it off me’. When asked if he could remember if the iPad was ripped or just taken from him, he stated that he could not remember. He said, ’he just took it off me’. Pupil A did not report this alleged incident to anyone at the time. When asked by the Presenting Officer if he would have reported it at the time, he claimed he would have reported it straight away to his parents. He did not report it straight away to his parents though. He didn’t report it to anyone at the time it allegedly occurred.  Nor did he show or note any distress at the time the iPad was removed from him. He only mentions it in his GTC Scotland statement dated 31 March 2021. The Teacher has clearly stated that he would never grab anything from any pupil. He would never rip anything from a pupil as is actually alleged by Pupil A. The Teacher accepts that he took the iPad from Pupil A, but it was not grabbed or ripped. No other pupil from a class of up to 30 claimed to have seen this event. The Teacher’s Representative invited the Panel to question why no one else came forward to provide evidence on this if this happened as described by Pupil A. In the Teacher’s Representative‘s submission, it is because it did not happen as reported by Pupil A. In the Teacher’s Representative submission, based on the evidence before the Panel, what is more likely, is that the Teacher removed the iPad from Pupil A’s hands simply by taking it from him. There was no ripping and no grabbing.

The Teacher’s Representative submitted that the Presenting Officer has failed to discharge the burden of proof in relation to this allegation.

With regard to allegation 1(b)(i), the Teacher’s Representative submitted that the only direct evidence for this allegation again comes from Pupil A. The Teacher denies having said this when Pupil A put a worksheet on the wrong pile. The Teacher does not recall this event and so could not comment further. The Teacher has clearly stated that he would not say this to any pupil. The Teacher’s Representative invited the Panel to question why no other pupils gave evidence to say that they heard this if the Teacher said this to Pupil A in front of the whole class. Pupil A told the Panel in evidence that it was said in front of the whole class and that the whole class would have heard. Pupil A did not report this to anyone at the time. He showed no distress at the time of the alleged incident. He doesn’t report any other pupil saying anything to him about it at the time or reacting in any way to the alleged comment. In the Teacher’s Representative’s submission, this is because it either simply did not happen or that Pupil A has misheard or misinterpreted something else that the Teacher said. The Panel has to look at this on the balance of probabilities – Is it more likely than not that the Teacher said these words to Pupil A. In the Teacher’s Representative’s submission – on balance – the Panel is invited to find that this did not occur. The Teacher is not known as a teacher to mock pupils or make jokes in front of the class. No one else has come forward to say that they heard this when the evidence from Pupil A is that the whole class heard. It is unlikely that the Teacher uttered these words.

The Teacher’s Representative submitted that the Presenting Officer has failed to discharge the burden of proof in relation to this allegation.

With regard to allegation 1(b)(ii), the Teacher’s Representative submitted that the Teacher denies that he shouted at Pupil A in an aggressive and intimidating manner. Again, the only evidence for this comes from Pupil A. No one else reports having seen this. The Teacher has confirmed that he does not shout at any pupil. The Teacher has accepted that he did, and does, on occasion raise his voice. This is to be heard over class chatter and other noise. The classes are open plan and schools can be noisy. The Teacher’s Representative submitted that the Panel heard from Pupil A that the Teacher would raise his voice and that this scared him. This is not shouting. This is not being aggressive. This is not intimidating. The Teacher has noted that he understands that the perception may be that he is aggressive and intimidating when he raises his voice, but the Panel is not tasked with making findings of people’s perception of events. In this allegation, the Panel is tasked with making findings of fact. The Teacher’s Representative submitted that the Teacher did not shout at Pupil A in an aggressive and intimidating manner. Whether it was perceived as shouting in an aggressive and intimidating manner is a different matter but not one for the Panel to make a finding in fact on. The incident involves the Teacher repeatedly instructing Pupil A to read aloud. He may have done so in a raised voice, but this has not been shown in evidence to have been an intimidating and aggressive shout.

The Teacher’s Representative submitted that the Presenting Officer has failed to discharge the burden of proof in relation to this allegation.

With regard to allegation 1(b)(iii), the Teacher’s Representative submitted that the Teacher admits that he repeatedly instructed Pupil A to stand up in front of the class and read out loud as a punishment. Factually this allegation is correct, however, it would be a matter for the Panel whether it finds this allegation proved on the balance of probabilities.

With regard to allegation 1(b)(iv), the Teacher’s Representative submitted that the Teacher has admitted that he said, ’reading is something you find challenging’. Whether those are to the effect of what is alleged is a matter for the Panel. The Teacher admits that those words could be perceived as ‘you are not a good reader.’ The Teacher denies that he said those exact words. Pupil A, his parents and the Teacher have all confirmed that Pupil A was not a good reader. It was something that Pupil A found challenging. This is what the Teacher accepts he said to Pupil A. Pupil A did not complain of this comment at the time or in his statement to the GTC Scotland. His father states that Pupil A told him the Teacher said, ‘your reading isn’t great.’ He confirmed that those were the words his son reported. They are obviously different from the words in the allegation, but they are to the effect of ‘you are not a good reader’ and potentially ‘reading is something you find challenging.’ Pupil A in cross-examination was asked if the Teacher said to him that reading was something he found challenging and he accepted this.  He accepted that statement was true at the time and that it was true to this day. Reading is something Pupil A found challenging and still finds challenging.

The Teacher’s Representative submitted that the burden of proof has not been discharged. If the Panel accepts that the Teacher said, ‘reading is something you find challenging’ then it has to consider if those are words to the effect of ‘you are not a good reader.’

With regard to allegation 1(c), the Teacher’s Representative submitted that Pupil A does not speak to this allegation. He reportedly told his parents about it, but he cannot remember it happening. While the Teacher admits that he called Pupil A to the front of the class, he denies that he acted in an aggressive and intimidating manner. All the Panel has in relation to this allegation is a hearsay account from Pupil A’s parents. Pupil A reportedly told them that he was called to the front of the class. Pupil A reportedly told them that the Teacher acted in an aggressive manner towards Pupil B. They do not say that this was directed towards Pupil A.  Pupil B has not given evidence to this Panel. Parent B has had her hearsay account admitted and it differs from the Teacher’s account. It should attract very little weight. The Teacher was there, and the Teacher confirms that he was not aggressive or intimidating towards Pupil A or to Pupil B. He was asking Pupil A to assist in the investigation and whole class restorative conversation regarding the actions of Pupil B. Pupil A was a witness to Pupil B’s actions. The Teacher accepts that his approach was misguided. He should not have called Pupil A out to the front of the class. The Teacher accepts that Pupil A may have considered that he was getting in trouble. The Teacher though confirmed this was not the case. However, the Teacher accepts that Pupil A may have perceived that he was going to get in trouble. Pupil A showed no upset in class. The only report of him being upset about this incident comes from his parents’ emails. Again, the Panel is not tasked with making findings of perception. The Panel is tasked with making findings of fact. The Teacher’s Representative submitted that the Teacher called Pupil A to the front of the class while getting another pupil into trouble, however, the teacher did not act in an aggressive and intimidating manner.  The only person who was there to give evidence to this incident was the Teacher.

In the Teacher’s Representative’s submission, this allegation cannot be found proved on the balance of probabilities. The Panel ought to prefer the direct account of the Teacher over the hearsay account of Pupil A’s parents.

With regard to allegation 1(d), the Teacher’s Representative submitted that the only evidence for this allegation comes from the parents of Pupil A. Pupil A does not recall this incident. It is an entirely hearsay account from the parents of Pupil A. The Teacher denies that he would say this to any pupil. If this was said in a class, then there would surely be other witnesses. None have come forward. It is accepted by the Teacher that he may have said, ‘why are you speaking’ to Pupil A on occasion when he was speaking out of turn in class, but he denies that he would ever have said, ‘you’re the one who can’t read in this class’.

Again, it was submitted that the Panel ought to be slow to accept the hearsay evidence of Pupil A’s parents when it is the only evidence being put forward in relation to this allegation. While Pupil A may have reported something like this to his parents, he cannot recall it and they could be mistaken as to what was actually said. Pupil A may also have been mistaken at the time as to what was actually said.

The Teacher’s Representative submitted the Panel ought to find this allegation not proved as the burden of proof has not been discharged.

With regard to allegation 1(e), the Teacher’s Representative submitted that the only evidence for this is the hearsay account of Pupil A’s parents. Pupil A does not recall this incident. If this was said, it must have been said to other pupils. No pupils have reported this, and no pupils have  come forward to give evidence that this was said to them. No pupil from the class at all has given evidence to this allegation, even Pupil A. The Teacher denies it was said.

It was submitted that the Panel ought not to accept the hearsay evidence of Pupil A’s parents especially when the allegation involves words being uttered to other pupils who are unnamed and have never reported such an incident. The Panel was invited to accept that this was not said by the Teacher.

It was submitted that the Presenting Officer has failed to discharge the burden of proof in relation to this allegation and invite the Panel to find this allegation not proved.

With regard to allegation 1(f)(i), the Teacher’s Representative submitted that Pupil A states that the Teacher ‘told me I was lying’. The Teacher accepts that he may have on occasion used the term liar, but Pupil A does not allege this in his statement to  GTC Scotland. The Teacher also states that he used the term ‘lying behaviour’. While Witness 7 states that this was not a term used, the Panel heard from Witness 9 who stated that ‘labelling behaviour' was a strategy used. It is a matter for the Panel based on the evidence to decide whether on this occasion the Teacher used the word ‘liar’.

With regard to allegation 1(f)(ii), the Teacher’s Representative submitted that Pupil A stated that the Teacher would often use the word ‘smart’ in his evidence in chief. He didn’t report this in his statement to  GTC Scotland. His parents have recorded it in an email. They have stated that the Teacher allegedly said it in a raised voice and an aggressive and intimidating manner. It is accepted by the Teacher that Pupil A may have gone home and reported to his parents that the Teacher said, ‘don’t you get smart with me’. The Panel has heard from Pupil A that he perceives a raised voice as being aggressive. It is a matter for the Panel to decide if it accepts this. The Teacher denies that he was aggressive. If the Teacher was to have said this in a raised voice it was not intentionally aggressive or intimidating. That Pupil A may have perceived it as aggressive, and intimidating is regrettable if this is found to have occurred. However, the Panel is not looking to make findings of fact based on perceptions. The Panel is tasked to find factually whether the words were said. It is admitted that this phrase was used by the Teacher on occasion. The Panel is also tasked with finding whether the words were said in an aggressive and intimidating manner. It was submitted that the Panel ought not to find that this was said in either an aggressive or intimidating manner as the evidence does not show this.

It was submitted that the Presenting Officer has failed to discharge the burden of proof in relation to this allegation.

With regard to allegation 1(g), the Teacher’s Representative submitted that this allegation is put forward by Father A in his email dated 22 March 2019. Father A notes that Pupil A was given a test ‘on Friday’. That would be 15 March 2019. He notes that Pupil A was doodling and was asked to rub it out. This email does not mention the Teacher acting in an intimidating and aggressive manner. It simply records that Pupil A’s father was told by Pupil A that the Teacher told him to rub out a doodle. It also states that Pupil A rubbed out the doodle. The Panel has seen the maths test dated 14 March 2019 (Thursday). This is the work referred to. The doodle has not been rubbed out. There is no evidence that on 22 March 2019 the Teacher behaved in an aggressive and intimidating manner towards Pupil A regarding his schoolwork.

It was submitted that the Presenting Officer has failed to discharge the burden of proof in relation to this allegation.

In his evidence, the Teacher has thought that this referred to the bunting work sheet. This is undated and was not referred to by the Presenting Officer in order to prove this allegation. The Panel have seen what Pupil A wrote regarding his head, his hips, and ‘his Johnny muscle’.

Pupil A, in his statement to GTC Scotland, simply states that the Teacher saw what he had written, and apparently rubbed out, and said, ‘looked what you’ve written’ and read it out to the class. Pupil A accepted that writing about headbutting people was inappropriate. He makes no mention of the Teacher being aggressive or intimidating. This allegation cannot be proved on the balance of probabilities.

With regard to allegation 2(a), the Teacher’s Representative submitted that the Teacher accepts that his actions at allegation 1(b)(iii) resulted in Pupil A being distressed. The Teacher has not witnessed the Pupil in distress in relation to anything else alleged in allegation 1. It is a matter for the Panel what actions at allegation 1 have been found proven on the balance of probabilities. It is also a matter for the Panel as to which, if any, of these allegations resulted in Pupil A being distressed.

With regard to allegation 2(b), the Teacher’s Representative submitted that the Panel has heard from Pupil A that he expressed [redacted]. The Panel has heard from Pupil A that this was as a result of the actions of the Teacher. Pupil A gave evidence as to the specific actions of the Teacher in his statement to  GTC Scotland. He noted that these were allegations 1(a), 1(b)(i), 1(b)(ii), 1(b)(iii) and 1(f)(i). It is a matter for the Panel which actions at allegation 1 have been found proved on the balance of probabilities. It is also a matter for the Panel which, if any, of these resulted in Pupil A expressing [redacted]. The Teacher accepts that Pupil A expressed [redacted] although he was not aware of that at the time, but the Panel still needs to consider if the expression of these thoughts was as a result of any of the actions alleged. It is for the Panel to decide whether there is evidence to satisfy it on the balance of probabilities that it was the actions of the Teacher that resulted in these thoughts being expressed by Pupil A.

With regard to allegation 2(c), the Teacher’s Representative submitted that the Panel has heard from Pupil A and his parents as well as the Teacher and others that he attended school on a flexible basis. It is a matter for the Panel which actions at allegation 1 have been found proved on the balance of probabilities. It is also a matter for the Panel if Pupil A actually attended school on a part time basis. In addition, it is a matter for the Panel which, if any, of these alleged actions resulted in Pupil A attending school on a part time if he did do so.

With regard to allegation 3(a), the Teacher’s Representative submitted that this allegation cannot be proved on the balance of probabilities. The only evidence that the Teacher was aggressive towards Pupil B comes from Parent B who was not there and did not attend the hearing to give evidence. The Teacher denies he was aggressive. There were up to 29 other pupils in the class and none of them appeared to give evidence that the Teacher was aggressive towards  Pupil B. While Pupil A’s parents note that the Teacher was aggressive on this day and that Pupil B ran out of the class, they were not there. In the Teacher’s Representative’s submission, Pupil B left the class as he was upset that he had been caught misbehaving and that he had disrupted other pupils’ learning in doing so. The class thought his punishment was fair and he disagreed. Pupil B did not run out of the class in distress. He ran out because he did not like the fact that he had been caught opening the app to switch other pupils' iPads off and he lost his iPad privileges.

With regard to allegation 3(b), the Teacher’s Representative submitted that the Teacher has admitted in his evidence that he acted in a way that he regrets, and he would not act in this way again. The Teacher would accept that his response to Parent B was unprofessional, but it has to be seen in context. He denies that he was aggressive. The only other witness to the allegation Witness 5, did not describe the Teacher as aggressive despite multiple questions asking her to describe the Teacher’s demeanour and tone. It is clear from the evidence that there was a disagreement. The meeting was acrimonious and described by Witness 5 as ‘combative’. Parent B states that the Teacher was angry, but she does not say the Teacher was aggressive. In the Teacher’s Representative’s submission, her evidence ought to carry very little weight. She did not attend the hearing to give evidence. She could not be asked if the Teacher was aggressive or just angry.

It was submitted that the Panel ought not to infer that the Teacher was aggressive when no-one has said this and when he denies that he was aggressive. The Presenting Officer has failed to discharge the burden of proof in relation to this allegation.

With regard to allegation 4, the Teacher’s Representative submitted that it was clear from the evidence of Parent C that she was upset and angry when she verbally accosted the Teacher in the playground. She had a ‘red mist’ and approached the Teacher shouting. The Teacher and Witness 9 confirm that Parent C was the aggressor. The Teacher admits that he could have handled the situation better and that he may have said something he regrets but that is not the allegation. The allegation is whether he acted in an aggressive manner and did shout at her. The Teacher denies he was aggressive and the only other eyewitness to the allegation, Witness 9, confirms that he was not aggressive. The Teacher denies that he shouted at Parent C and the only other eyewitness to the allegation, Witness 9, confirms that he did not shout. In her evidence, Parent C did not state that the Teacher shouted at her. She admitted shouting but only said that he raised his voice and ‘could be heard’. In the Teacher’s Representative’s submission, this was not shouting and that part of the allegation, from the evidence heard, cannot be found to be proved. In relation to the Teacher acting in an aggressive manner, Parent C described this as an angry tone and his use of language without going into specifics. While the Teacher’s use of language may be regrettable it was not aggressive. He may have been upset, hurt, bullied and angry but he was not aggressive. His tone, according to the Teacher, was heated, but this came as a result of an aggressor attacking him. He was not the aggressor in this situation.

The Presenting Officer has failed to discharge the burden of proof in relation to this allegation.

Findings of facts

The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. He referred the Panel to the Practice Statement  on Fact Finding and the cases of Re B (Children) [2013] and Dutta v General Medical Council [2020] EWHC 1974 (Admin).

The Panel gave careful consideration to all of the evidence presented and submissions made by the parties in making its findings of fact on the allegations.

The Panel had in mind that the burden of proof rested on the Presenting Officer and that the standard of proof required is that used in civil proceedings, namely the balance of probabilities.

The Panel considered the credibility and reliability of the witnesses, although held in mind that uncontested and reliable contemporary documents, where available, framed the discussion on an individual’s credibility and reliability as a witness.

The Panel decided that Pupil A was a credible and reliable witness. Although young, and at times placed under pressure to respond to searching questions regarding his motivation and honesty, the Panel observed that he remained objective. Pupil A did not embellish his evidence in the Panel’s view. He answered questions about what must have been a painful episode in his life in a measured and restrained way. He was consistent and he accepted appropriately that his memory of events was better when he signed his statement in 2021 than now.

Mother A and Father A were also truthful and reliable witnesses in the Panel’s view. There was no discernible hostility towards the Teacher. They had accepted Pupil A’s accounts of the incidents at School A unquestioningly. Their understanding was supported by reports made by other parents taken from accounts given by other children in the class. There was no reason to believe that the contemporary reports provided by the emails drafted by Father A and the contemporary investigation were inflated or targeted, driven by a wish to have the Teacher removed from teaching out of a sense of revenge or malice. They were prepared to accept that in general, the Teacher was not a bad teacher. The Panel was not provided with information to suggest that the complaints were supported by other parent’s complaints in a coordinated attack on the Teacher. The Panel accepted Father A’s and Mother A’s evidence that the distressing changes in Pupil A’s demeanour and worrying expressions of unhappiness were linked closely in time to the events in the Teacher’s P6 class. There was no evidence of anything similar before or since. That reasonably had the effect of supporting their confidence in the reports being made to them by Pupil A and in the validity of the complaints generally.

Parent C is a teacher. She accepted being angry in the playground confrontation with the Teacher. She acknowledged that a ‘red mist’ had descended and that she intended to remonstrate with the Teacher. She was dissatisfied with what she perceived to be the Teacher’s argumentative response. Parent C then sought out a member of the senior leadership team at School A in order to make a complaint. Parent C acknowledged that her own conduct could have been better. That served to support her credibility in the Panel’s view. The key issue was whether the Teacher was to be believed in preference to her with respect of the essentials of what happened in the incident. The Panel decided that Parent C was an honest and frank witness who gave candid evidence about her own conduct that was unflattering in a professional teacher. The Panel concluded that Parent C was a credible and reliable witness.

Witness 5 was the former acting head teacher at School A. She gave her evidence in a measured way. She expressed a measure of support for the Teacher being placed in a difficult situation. However, in her balanced testimony she was also clear about her recollection of the complaints related to the Teacher and the seemingly combative attitude adopted by the Teacher in a situation involving Parent B. The Panel decided that this witness was credible and reliable.

Witness 6 was absent on maternity leave during the school session 2018/2019. She did not have direct responsibility at that time. She was supportive of the Teacher’s professional abilities. Her involvement extended to responding to Pupil A’s parents' desire to avoid Pupil A having contact with the Teacher, even indirectly. Despite her generally good impression of the Teacher, she was prepared to concede that he had acted unproductively in a number of staff conflict situations. The Panel decided that Witness 5 was credible and reliable. Her evidence was thoughtful and professional in character.

Witness 7 was the deputy head of the school in session 2018/2029. Witness 7 told the Panel he was not involved in the poetry incident. He had one meeting with Mother A over the Teacher ‘looking’ at Pupil A, so his involvement in the matter was minimal.

Witness 7 was supportive of the Teacher’s professional abilities and felt that he had been placed in a difficult situation. The witness was well placed to speak about the behaviour of the Teacher’s P6 class and the particular pupils. The Panel decided that this witness was balanced and measured in his evidence. However, he had little to say with regard to the allegations apart from the incident with Pupil B. He was able to be clear about other matters including the issue of Pupil A’s behaviour and presentation at the school. The witness was credible and reliable in the Panel’s view.

Witness 8, the Teacher, gave evidence that he had returned to teaching after a period of illness that he related to the incidents subsequent to Pupil A’s parents’ complaints. He gave clear evidence about the incidents and those involving Parent B and Parent C and expanded at length on his recollection of Pupil A’s behaviour, associations and the ‘core group’ of children in his class. This evidence was at odds with the parents’ evidence; however, Witnesses 9, 10 and 11 spoke about the bad behaviour of the ‘core group, and corroborated the Teacher’s evidence in that respect. The Teacher did not offer to provide any contemporary records or other documentary evidence that could have supported his recollections. Nothing in the contemporary investigation spoke to the ‘core group’ behaviour that he remembered. The Teacher’s perception was that he was not being aggressive towards Parent B; his position was that he might have been argumentative with Parent B. There was ancillary evidence that suggested that he could be confrontational even with professional colleagues in a way that resulted in restoration being made necessary. The Panel considered that the Teacher could not be accepted as being credible and reliable in an unqualified way. The Panel considered that his medical history may have some influence on this. The Panel was not prepared to conclude that the Teacher had falsified his evidence intentionally. However, he could not be relied upon to be a detached and faithful historian in respect of incidents which appear to have had a lasting effect upon him.

The Panel considered that Witnesses 9, 10 and 11 could be assessed collectively. The witnesses had accepted that their evidence had been discussed together at certain points. Their collective judgements on the behaviour of Pupil A and his classmates were enthusiastically offered in evidence but was not vouched for in any contemporary record. There was nothing detached in the way that the witnesses offered testimony. The Panel considered that the witnesses were helpful to the extent that they supported other witnesses’ views of the Teacher’s professional commitment. In all other respects, the Panel was unable to regard the witnesses as sufficiently reliable as to be of assistance in determining the core truth of the allegations.

Decision on the facts

1. Between October 2018 and April 2019 while employed by Edinburgh City Council School A, in respect of Pupil A who [redacted], the Teacher did:

a) in or around October 2018, grab an iPad from Pupil A’s hands;

In Pupil A’s statement of March 2021, he does not say that the iPad was ripped from his hands. There is no mention of this in the contemporary emails by Father A. The Teacher referred to purposefully removing the iPad and not in a temper. The Panel was satisfied that the child’s recollection was influenced by the perception of how important the iPad was to him rather than a clear and satisfactory recollection of the event.

Accordingly, the Panel found this allegation as not proven.

b) on 9 or 10 January 2019:

i. say to him, ‘looks like someone can’t read’ or words to that effect;

The email by Father A written on the same date as the incident supported the truthful and reliable evidence of Pupil A which the Panel accepted. The Teacher did not recollect the use by him of those words. The Panel preferred Pupil A’s evidence.

Accordingly, the Panel found this allegation proven.

ii. shout at him in an aggressive and intimidating manner;

The Panel considered that there was no sufficient reliable evidence to support this allegation of shouting at Pupil A. There was insufficient evidence to establish that the Teacher had either been aggressive or had been intimidating in addressing Pupil A.

Accordingly, the Panel found this allegation not proven.

iii. force him to stand up in front of the class and read out loud as a punishment;

The Panel found this allegation proven by admission under the agreed amendment, ‘force’ to be replaced with ‘repeatedly instruct’, in line with Rule 1.7.21.

iv. say to him ‘you are not a good reader’ or words to that effect.

There was no oral testimony or contemporary record that these words or words to the same effect were used. In the Local Authority Investigative interview with the Teacher , the Teacher is recorded as accepting saying that the pupil finds reading challenging. The Panel was not satisfied that these were words to the effect intended in the allegation.

Accordingly, the Panel found this allegation not proven.

c) on 22 January 2019 call him to the front of the class while giving another pupil into trouble and act in an intimidating and aggressive manner;

There was no mention in the email of 22 January 2019 that this was done in an intimidating or aggressive manner. Pupil A did not say this in his oral testimony. There was insufficient evidence to find this allegation proved.

d) on an occasion between 14 and 22 March 2019 say to him ‘why are you speaking, you’re the one who can’t read in this class’, or words to that effect, in the presence of other pupils;

The Panel agreed with the Presenting Officer that there was no evidence for this allegation. Accordingly, the Panel found this allegation not proven.

e) mock him in the presence of other pupils by asking other pupils, ‘is this your best work, are you Pupil A?’;

The Panel observed that the only evidence linked to this allegation is in an email sent by Father A to the school, dated 7 August 2019. This was not spoken to in oral testimony. This allegation is undated. There was no testimony that assisted the Panel in trying to identify when this allegation is said to have occurred. The Panel considered that the evidence was vague and insufficient.

Accordingly, the Panel found this allegation not proven.

f) on numerous occasions and in particular on 14 March 2019;

i. call him a liar;

Pupil A recalled an incident linked to football. However, he contradicted himself in his oral evidence as at first, he said to the Presenting Officer that he could not remember if the Teacher ever called him a liar but to the Teacher’s Representative, he said he called him a liar related to the football incident.  There are emails from Father A recording that Pupil A mentioned being called a liar but in the context of the wider evidence, this was not sufficiently supported. The Teacher appeared to accept saying something similar that could have been misinterpreted.

Accordingly, the Panel found this allegation not proven.

ii. say to him, ‘don’t you get smart with me’ or words to that effect in an aggressive and intimidating manner;

The Teacher accepted using the words, but not spoken in the manner asserted in the allegation. The Teacher is accepted to have a commanding presence in the class. The tone of delivery is open to misinterpretation, especially over a long period of time. Pupil A recalled that the Teacher stood close to him and raised his voice. The Panel was satisfied that the child truthfully remembered his perception of being spoken to but was not satisfied that the manner was aggressive and intimidating. Other teachers remember that the Teacher could raise his voice but not in an aggressive way. The Panel was not satisfied that the evidence was sufficient to find the allegation proved.

g) on 22 March 2019 behave in an aggressive and intimidating manner towards him regarding his schoolwork.

The Panel was satisfied that Pupil A’s evidence did not extend to asserting that the Teacher acted in an aggressive and intimidating manner. There was no email or other contemporary record which supported this. Accordingly, the Panel found this allegation not proven.

2. The teacher’s actions at allegation 1. resulted in Pupil A:

a) being distressed;

Pupil A told the Panel that he was distressed by the Teacher’s actions and there was no evidence to suggest that this was untrue. Pupil A recalled feeling that other pupils were perfect but not him. Further to this, the Teacher admitted this allegation in relation to 1(b)(iii).

Accordingly, the Panel found this allegation proven in relation to 1(b)(i) and 1(b)(iii).  The Panel found allegations 1(b)(ii) and 1(b)(iv) not proven.

b) expressing [redacted];

The Panel heard compelling testimony from Pupil A that he did feel hopeless and that [redacted]. The Panel does not doubt Pupil A or his parents on this matter.

The issue for the Panel was causation. The Panel considered that based on the available evidence, and the facts found proved, this reaction was an extreme one, even allowing for a child who had been undergoing an unhappy school experience over a period of time. There was important ancillary evidence that Pupil A had independently begun to compare himself unfavourably with another child who was [redacted]. Pupil A questioned why he could not be more like that child who was ‘perfect’ as Pupil A could never be.

The Panel noted that at the time, a formal report had been obtained from a specialist which concluded that Pupil A needed adaptations and strategies to overcome his challenges and participate effectively in his learning. Mother A gave evidence that the disclosure of the report at this time had no effect on Pupil A. The Panel considered that this was truthfully said but was not realistic.

The Panel was satisfied that in conjunction with Pupil A’s unhappy experience of his P6 class there were a number of other cumulative and important matters that collectively could have provoked the child’s distressing reaction. In all of the circumstances, the Panel was not satisfied that the facts proved in this matter were sufficient to establish that the reaction of having [redacted] was the result of the Teacher’s actions. There was insufficient material available to the Panel to approach the task of deciding what relative contribution was probably made by the Teacher’s actions which have been found proven. On the balance of probabilities, the Panel was not able to conclude that the proved matters resulted in Pupil A  expressing [redacted].

Accordingly, the Panel found this allegation not proven.

c) ultimately attending school on a part time basis.

For the same reasons as set out in allegation 2(b), the Panel was unable to find this allegation proven on balance of probabilities.

3. In or around June 2019, while employed by Edinburgh City Council at School A,

the Teacher did:

a) act in an aggressive manner towards Pupil B, causing him to run out of the classroom in distress;

The Panel had in mind that the witness statement of Pupil B was removed from evidence.  The Panel carefully considered the weight to place on the evidence provided by Witness 7. The witness recalled being made aware that Pupil B left the class without permission and when he saw Pupil B found that he was upset and grumpy. There was however no testimony to support that Witness 7 concluded that the Teacher had caused Pupil B to leave because of acting in an aggressive manner towards Pupil B. The Panel also considered the hearsay evidence of Parent B. Given that Parent B refused to attend the hearing, the Panel was not in a position to put any questions to Parent B that would assist in its deliberations. Accordingly, the Panel was not in a position to attach much weight to the hearsay statement.

Accordingly, the Panel found this allegation not proven.

With regard to allegations 3 and 4, the Panel summoned the Parties prior to its announcement on the Facts to indicate that it wished to make amendments to the allegations in question in line with Rule 2.8.4.

With regard to allegation 3, the Panel indicated to the parties that it intended to delete ‘ aggressive and’, and further amend ‘June’ to ‘January/February’.

With regard to allegation 4, the Panel indicated to the parties that it intended to delete ‘and did shout at her’.

The Parties were given the opportunity to make representations on the matter and raised no objections.

The Presenting Officer had been asked further with regard to allegation 4 in what way that the Panel should approach the wording of the allegation. He submitted that the allegation could be proved under deletion. The conjunctive in this case was associative rather than composite of the allegation. The Teacher’s Representative invited the Panel to find that if the words in relation to shouting were deleted then the allegation could not be proved at all.

Having heard the representation from the parties on the proposed amendments, the Panel retired to the private session.

b) act in unprofessional manner towards Parent B.

With regard to allegation 3(b), as amended, Parent B did not attend as a witness. However, the Panel heard from Witness 5.  The Panel preferred the evidence of Witness 5 to that of the Teacher. Witness 5 recalled that the meeting with Parent B was ‘acrimonious and tricky’ and did not end well. The Teacher had exacerbated the situation by asking Parent B if she was an appropriate person to challenge his teaching, knowing that the parent was not a teacher; however, there was no evidence that the Teacher had been aggressive.

Accordingly, the panel found allegation 3(b) found proven under the amendment.

4. On or around 8 February 2017, while employed by Edinburgh City Council at School A, the teacher did act in an aggressive manner towards Parent C in the School A playground.

The Panel preferred the Presenting Officer’s approach. The allegation might have been better expressed and appeared to be in conflict with the conjunctive approach in other allegations. The Panel decided that the context of this allegation allowed the Presenting Officer’s approach to be adopted.

The Panel accepted the evidence of Parent C in preference to the Teacher’s evidence. There was no reason to doubt Parent C who admitted also to behaving in an angry manner. She said that a ‘red mist had descended’ and that she ‘barged in’. Her evidence was frank and persuasive, and it explained events in a natural, uncontrived way. Parent C did not say that the Teacher shouted at her. Rather, he had acted in an aggressive manner and used a tone that was inappropriate.

Accordingly, the Panel found the allegation proven as amended.

Findings on Fitness to Teach

Given that the Panel found that allegations 1(b)(i), 1(b)(iii), 2(a) in relation to 1(b)(i) and 1(b)(iii), 3(b) and 4 were found proven, the Panel invited the parties to lead evidence and make submissions in relation to the Teacher’s fitness to teach.

The Teacher’s Representative led further evidence in relation to the Teacher’s fitness to teach.

Witness 12

Witness 12 took the affirmation and confirmed her signed statement as being true and accurate, and read the statement into the record. Witness 12 was the Head Teacher at the school where the Teacher was employed from August 2022 to June 2023. Witness 12 was aware of the allegations. Witness 12 stated that the Teacher is a hard-working and reflective practitioner. He worked to learn the new systems at the school and to take on board the consistent teaching approaches that are used. In observed lessons, he was well prepared, he gave instructions confidently, and his teaching was pitched at the appropriate level for his class. Witness 12 said that the Teacher has employed his skills in STEM and digital learning to good effect.

Some concerns were raised by parents which were resolved. The Teacher struggles with relationships with some children. A difficult conversation was had in which the Teacher was supported by the assistance of a union representative regarding a child’s experience throughout the school year. The Teacher had made a flippant remark about taping up some children’s mouths which had not been understood by the children to be humorous. The Teacher demonstrated reflective practice and had taken on board the issues raised. He needed to remember that what was said as a teacher lived with the children. The Teacher needs to reflect carefully on that.

Witness 12 said that she was surprised that there had been more parent discussions brought to Witness 12 about the Teacher than with other teachers. The class did not have any challenging behaviour issues that made it different to any other class.

Witness 13

Witness 13 took the oath and confirmed her signed statement as being true and accurate, and read the statement into the record. Witness 13 is the acting Head Teacher at the Teacher’s current school. She has been made aware of issues around relationships by some of the parents. On occasion, the Teacher was reported to have made comments to pupils that were not appropriate, and some parents complained that their children had felt uncomfortable and were not enjoying their experience of school in his class. There were also reports of the Teacher shouting at pupils. The Teacher responded quickly and positively to these complaints. The witness is happy for the Teacher to continue his career at the school.

Witness 13 said that she was not aware of the Teacher shouting in the class. The witness explained that a complaint was made towards the end of the current academic year regarding a child feeling adversely affected by the Teacher’s ‘Rule of 3’ questions inhibiting her ability to work in class. The constant attention to disruptive boys interferes with her progress in class. The parents raised the issue too late in the year for it to be resolved. There was however positive feedback from parents. He is supportive of children and adapts to children’s needs. The witness believes that it may be necessary to support the Teacher to manage classroom interactions with children better.

Submissions on Fitness to Teach

The Presenting Officer referred the Panel to the Public Services Reform (General Teaching Council for Scotland) Order 2011 (‘the Order’) and to the GTC Scotland Fitness to Teach Conduct Cases – Indicative Outcomes Guidance Practice Statement. In respect of misconduct, the Presenting Officer referred the Panel to the case of Roylance v GMC [2000] 1AC 311 and submitted that the decision on the Teacher’s fitness to teach was a matter for the professional judgement of the Panel. The Presenting Officer submitted that the allegations found proven were breaches of Parts 1.2, 1.3, 1.6, 2.3, 4.2 and 4.4 of COPAC.

In particular, the Presenting Officer submitted:

Part 1.2 – you must maintain appropriate professional boundaries, avoid improper contact or relationships with pupils and respect your unique position of trust as a teacher;-

Telling a [redacted] pupil that someone can’t read and repeatedly instructing them to stand up as a punishment all to the pupil’s distress constitutes a failure to respect the unique position of trust the Teacher had in regard to Pupil A.

Part 1.3 –  should avoid situations both within and out with the professional context which could be in breach of the criminal law, or may call into question your fitness to teach;

Telling a [redacted] pupil that someone can’t read and repeatedly instructing them to stand up as a punishment all to the pupil’s distress as well as acting in an unprofessional manner towards one parent and an aggressive manner towards another would constitute behaviour which may call into question his fitness to teach.

Part 1.6 –you should maintain an awareness that as a teacher you are a role model to pupils.-

Telling a [redacted] pupil that someone can’t read and repeatedly instructing them to stand up as a punishment all to the pupil’s distress as well as acting in an unprofessional manner towards one parent and an aggressive manner towards another would constitutes a lack of awareness of being a role model to pupils.

In turn, this constitutes a breach of part 2.3 of the code:

2.3 – you should aim to be a positive role model to pupils and motivate and inspire them to realise their full potential;

Part 4.2 - you must treat all colleagues and parents and carers fairly and with respect, without discrimination;

Acting in an aggressive manner towards Parent C and an unprofessional manner towards Parent B constitutes a failure to treat parents with respect. This would also constitute a breach of Part 4.4.

The Panel was invited to find that the conduct as proved amounts to misconduct and a breach of COPAC.

The Presenting Officer invited the Panel to find that the proved allegations were serious but remediable.

An aggravating feature is that since the ability of pupils and parents to trust the wellbeing of their children with teachers is one of the cornerstones of our education system, the Teacher’s behaviour towards Pupil A in particular constitutes a serious breach of the trust placed in him as a P6 Teacher. Pupil A was caused harm in the form of distress.

There is evidence of a consistent pattern of behaviour in that there were four incidents of analogous behaviour during a 2-year period which all constituted a lack of respect for others and for the role as a registered teacher.

There is some but insufficient insight shown by the Teacher in the limited admissions. There is no evidence of specific training undertaken to remedy these issues. Similar issues have recurred in the Teacher’s current role at a different school. That is evidence of an absence of remediation of the behaviour. Public protection is engaged. The pattern of behaviour, coupled with the lack of any meaningful insight or remorse on the part of the Teacher means that the risk of repetition of similar behaviour, if the Panel does not make a finding of either unfitness to teach or current impairment, is high.

Further, the public interest is engaged. Given the serious nature of the allegations, a finding of current impairment or that the Teacher is unfit to teach is necessary in order to maintain confidence in GTC Scotland as a professional regulator and the wider reputation of the teaching profession.

The Panel should find that the Teacher’s fitness to teach is currently impaired. It is open to the Panel to find that the Teacher’s conduct has fallen short of what is expected of him. Consequently, the Panel can find that the Teacher is unfit to Teach.

The Teacher’s Representative submissions

The Teacher’s Representative on behalf of the Teacher invited the Panel to find that the Teacher’s fitness to teach is not currently impaired. He referred the Panel to the legal tests adopted by the Presenting Officer. The Teacher’s Representative invited the Panel to consider the circumstances of the events leading to the allegations admitted or found proved. Certain aspects of the conduct were either unprofessional or ill-judged. However, the Teacher felt under attack in particular by the actions of Parent C. Allegation 4 was a heated response to a special circumstance and was not, objectively, so serious as to amount to misconduct.

In the event that the Panel decided that all or part of the allegations proved were serious, that did not oblige the Panel to find that the Teacher’s current fitness to teach is currently impaired. The Teacher’s Representative invited the Panel to agree that none of the allegations pointed to conduct which is fundamentally incompatible with fitness to teach.

There have been some further issues, but these have been resolved locally and without further complaints. The Teacher’s current line managers are happy for him to remain at the school. That suggests a full level of remediation and a removal of future risk. Pupil A’s case amounts to a single mismanaged relationship. The Teacher is not a risk to children and young people. A reasonable member of the public would not come to the view that a finding of unfitness to teach was required in order to support trust and confidence in the profession.

The Panel gave careful consideration to all of the evidence presented and submissions made by the parties in relation to the Teacher’s fitness to teach. The Panel addressed the relevant considerations in relation to fitness to teach, as outlined in the GTC Scotland Fitness to Teach Conduct Cases – Indicative Outcomes Guidance Practice Statement. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor. The Panel first considered whether the allegations found proven amounted to misconduct.

Allegation 1(b)(i)

Pupil A is [redacted] as the Teacher knew at the time. This was, in the Panel’s view, a misjudged flippant remark. It was not done deliberately. Understandably, the child was distressed. However, this was an isolated incident taking into account the Panel’s findings. There was not, in the Panel’s judgement, more than a spontaneous and ill-considered remark which failed to keep at the forefront of the Teacher’s mind the wellbeing of the child.

In the Panel’s view this regrettable incident did not fall so far short of the standards as to be a serious falling short by the Teacher. It did not reach the threshold of seriousness to call into question the Teacher’s position of trust as a teacher. The Panel considered that in its professional judgement nothing in the commentary suggests that this would amount to a breach of Part 1.2 of COPAC. Part 1.3 was not engaged because this incident did not, objectively, call into question the Teacher’s fitness to teach. In the same way, Part 1.4 of COPAC was not engaged.

Allegation 1(b)(iii)

The Panel gave careful consideration to this incident which was clearly a material misstep and a departure from what would ordinarily be expected of a teacher. The Teacher insisted that he had forgotten in the moment that the child, Pupil A, was [redacted]. The repeated instruction was however a punishment. This did not, in the Panel’s view, conform to what ought ordinarily to be expected of a teacher. This was a misjudgement on the Teacher’s part. He could, and ought to have, found a better way to deal with the situation. The incident was very upsetting for the child. However, once the child’s distress had become evident, the Teacher did not impede or prevent the child from leaving the class.

There had been an inordinate but unintended impact on the child. It was however an isolated incident which was misjudged and clumsy rather than intentionally harmful. The Teacher now acknowledges that this was a departure from good practice. In the Panel’s judgement, this misjudgement did not fall so far short of what was expected in the circumstances as to amount to misconduct.

Allegation 2(a)

The incident resulted in understandable distress for Pupil A. In the Panel’s judgement, the inadvertent causing of distress by the Teacher did not amount to misconduct in all of the circumstances.

Allegation 3(b)

The Panel considered that the Teacher’s unprofessional conduct arose in the context of a meeting that he had not been prepared for and that its true purpose, he felt, ought to have been made clear immediately. The Teacher felt threatened and, in these circumstances, the conduct occurred. Although regrettable and striking, the Panel judged that this incident did not fall so far below what was expected as to amount to misconduct on the Teacher’s part. The Teacher had not been threatening or abusive. He felt ambushed and deprived of the professional support that he considered ought to have been made available to him. In terms of the standards, arguably the Teacher had not shown respect or treated the parent fairly as set out in the commentary. In the Panel’s judgement, an appropriate response would have been to pause and attempt to set boundaries or to arrange a later meeting. However, this was not a serious breach of the standards. Accordingly, this did not amount to misconduct.

Allegation 4

In this incident, the Teacher felt under attack. The approach by Parent C was sudden and heated. The Teacher’s response was to exhibit an aggressive manner, and this was unwise. The Teacher spoke back to the parent, a professional colleague when he ought to have held his counsel and sought another opportunity to explore the issues and resolve the conflict. This was ill judged. The Panel considered however that in all of the circumstances, this deeply regrettable instance did not amount to misconduct.

The Panel then looked at all of the proven allegations together to consider whether, cumulatively, they would amount to misconduct. In the Panel’s judgement that was not the case. The incidents although occurring in the same relatively short span of time were different in circumstances and character. They did not reveal a concerning pattern of behaviour or a deeper underlying attitudinal disposition that would suggest a graver character underpinning the matters.

The Panel also considered whether a finding of misconduct was necessary in order to maintain the trust and confidence of the public in the teaching profession. The Panel judged that this was not the case. The reasonable and informed member of the public would recognise that not every departure from best practice, even taken together, would call into question a teacher’s fitness to teach. The Panel considered that in the Teacher’s case, the reasonable and informed member of the public would recognise the steps taken by the Teacher to internalise the lessons of these incidents and to ensure there was no repetition.

Despite the emergence of other classroom incidents in the Teacher’s current post, there was nothing to cause real and material concern in the mind of the public that these were not identified and resolved in the school. The Teacher had produced evidence and witnesses who all spoke to his professionalism and commitment to his profession.

The Panel determined that the Teacher’s conduct does not fall short of the standards expected of a registered teacher and that his fitness to teach is not therefore impaired.