Decision: Derek Curran (Full Hearing)

GTC Scotland Fitness to Teach Panel Outcome

Full Hearing

4-5 March 2020, 8 December 2021, 6, 7 and 10 January 2022

TeacherDerek Curran
Registration Number821234
Registration CategorySecondary – Mathematics and Computing
PanelKathleen McCormick (Convener), Michele Knight, Diane Molyneux
Legal AssessorRobert Fraser (4 and 5 March 2020)
Amanda Pringle (8 December 2021, 6, 7, 10 January 2022)
Servicing OfficerAga Adamczyk
Presenting OfficerGary Burton, Anderson Strathern
Teacher’s representativeAndrew Faux, The Reflective Practice, Faisal Sameja (instructing solicitor), Association of School and College Leaders

Definitions

Any reference in this decision to:

  • ‘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;
  • the ‘IOG’ means Practice Statement Indicative Outcomes Guidance;
  •  ‘COPAC’ means the GTC Scotland Code of Professionalism and Conduct (2012); and
  • the ‘Register’ means the GTC Scotland register of teachers.

Preliminary Issues

Late Papers

At various stages of the proceedings, the Presenting Officer and the Teacher’s Representative asked to admit late papers. The parties did not object to the admission of any of the documents. The Panel considered Rule 1.7.22 and the Fact-Finding in Fitness to Teach Conduct Cases Practice Statement. The Panel noted the parties’ position, namely that they took no issue with the documents being submitted at a late stage. The Panel decided to admit the late papers as these were relevant to the proceedings. Accordingly, the following documents were admitted as late papers:

1 A typed version of exhibit DC10 (Images of text messages sent by Adult Learner to Teacher A)

2 Procedure for Children and Family Staff Abroad

3 Email dated 3 April 2014 (sent at 16:23)

4 Second Witness Statement of the Teacher, dated 9 December 2021, with exhibits:

  • Letter from AlphaBiolabs, dated 4 June 2014;
    • Email correspondence between AlphaBiolabs and the Teacher’s Representative, Faisal Sameja.

Privacy

Following an application from the Teacher’s Representative on 5 March 2020, the Panel also considered whether the Teacher’s evidence which related to his private and family life should be heard in private.  The Panel had regard to the Privacy and Anonymity Practice Statement. The Panel noted there was no objection by the Presenting Officer. The Panel determined that there were compelling reasons in the particular circumstances of the case to justify holding in private those parts of the Full Hearing when evidence of the Teacher’s family life would be heard.

Virtual Hearing Application and Adjournment

The Full Hearing proceeded in person in the GTC Scotland dedicated Hearings Suite at its office in Edinburgh on 4 and 5 March 2020 where the Panel heard the Presenting Officer’s case. Thereafter, the hearing was unable to continue due to Scottish Government restrictions and guidelines on public interaction and concerns about public safety as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On 8 December 2020, an application was made by the Presenting Officer for the case to proceed virtually, but the Panel considered that, at that time, it would be appropriate to hear all the evidence in the same manner as on 4 and 5 March 2020, to ensure fairness to both parties.   

Following the relaxation of the Scottish Government restrictions and guidelines on public interaction, the hearing was rescheduled to proceed in person on 8 December 2021. However, due to concerns regarding the Omicron variant spread, the hearing in person was unable to proceed. The Presenting Officer made a late application dated 7 December 2021 for the remainder of the hearing to be conducted virtually. The Presenting Officer submitted that public health concerns were ongoing and that it was in the interests of the parties and that of the public for the matter to be dealt with expeditiously and without any further delay. The Teacher’s Representative made submissions opposing the application whilst recognising the challenges of the hearing continuing in person due to the ongoing public health issues.

On 8 December 2021, the Panel reconvened virtually to consider the application made by the Presenting Officer for the remainder of the hearing to be conducted virtually. In line with Rule 1.7.6. the Panel firstly invited the parties to make representation on whether or not the application made by the Presenting Officer should be considered virtually. The parties had no objections to the matter being considered in such a manner, therefore, the Panel agreed to hear the parties’ submissions on that matter in that manner.

The Panel had careful regard to the application made, and the submissions made by the Presenting Officer and the Teacher’s Representative. The Panel also took account of the provisions within the Rules and guidance provided by the Use of Electronic Communications in Hearings Practice Statement. The Panel appreciated that it should balance all the relevant factors, the interests of the parties and the public interest in deciding whether or not to grant the application. The Panel decided that the balance of the various factors and interests to be assessed in determining the application weighed in favour of granting the application made by the Presenting Officer. The Panel did not consider that there were any personal, evidential, practical or technical reasons to refuse the application. In addition, given the ongoing issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and emerging variants, the Panel considered that there would be further considerable delay in the progress of the present proceedings if the application were to be refused.

Accordingly, the Panel granted the application in terms of Rule 1.7.6 for the remainder of the hearing to be conducted virtually.

However, given the short notice of the Presenting Officer’s application, and in the interest of fairness to both parties, the Panel invited the parties to make submissions on adjourning the proceedings under Rule 1.7.12. The Panel noted there were no objections by the parties. The Panel was satisfied that no injustice would be caused. The Panel concluded that there were compelling reasons in the particular circumstances of this case for the hearing to be adjourned. In particular, the Panel noted that the Teacher and his representatives needed time to make the necessary arrangements to be able to participate fully in the virtual proceedings.

Accordingly, the Panel determined under Rule 1.7.12 to adjourn the proceedings of its own volition.

The hearing recommenced on 6 January 2022 on a virtual basis until its conclusion on 10 January 2022.

Anonymity Order

At the recommencement of the hearing on 6 January 2022, the Panel considered the issue of anonymity with regard to the identity of specified persons referred to in the hearing and heard submissions from the parties on the matter. The Panel noted that parties had agreed at the commencement of proceedings that the names of the specified persons should not be disclosed to the public and had no objection to the anonymity key being formalised.  The Panel determined on its own initiative to make a formal order under Rule 1.7.3 (b) that the identity of the Adult Learner, Young Person A, Young Person D, Young Person C, Teacher A and Person D referred to in the hearing should not be disclosed to the public throughout the proceedings by the use of anonymisation. The Panel was satisfied that whilst parties had agreed on an informal basis to anonymisation at the commencement of proceedings, it was in the interests of justice to do so by means of a formal anonymity key.

Allegations

The following allegations were considered at the hearing:

1 On or around 16 June 2016 you were convicted of the charge that:

“on 26 January 2014 or 27 January 2014, at Ward 3, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Sciennes Road, Edinburgh, you Derek Curran did behave in a threatening or abusive manner which was likely to cause a reasonable person to suffer fear or alarm in that you did behave in an aggressive manner, refuse to leave the ward, causing annoyance and placing A and B, all c/o Police Service of Scotland, Edinburgh in a state of alarm CONTRARY to Section 38(1) of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010”.

2 Between June 2013 and June 2014, while employed by the City of Edinburgh Council as

Headteacher at Castlebrae High School, you did:

(a) upon receipt of an allegation that a teacher at the school was sexually harassing an adult learner, fail to adequately assess the seriousness of the complaint and ensure that an investigation was properly conducted and progressed in accordance with the relevant Council policies and procedures;

(b) upon receipt of the allegation referred to at allegation 2(a), fail to ensure that sufficient support was put in place for the adult learner;

(c) upon receipt of a report of a potential historical child protection disclosure during the course of the investigation into the allegation at 2(a) above, fail to take appropriate action in line with the Council’s Child Protection guidelines;

(d) fail to adhere to Council procedures in relation to payment of travel expenses of £399

from City of Edinburgh Council;

(e) fail to adhere to Council procedures in relation to payment of salaries to tertiary staff

avoiding the payment of tax and national insurance.

and in light of the above, it is alleged that your fitness to teach is impaired and you are unfit to

teach, as a result of breaching Parts 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 2.4 and 2.6 of the General Teaching Council for

Scotland’s Code of Professionalism and Conduct.

Teacher’s Admissions

At the outset of the hearing, the Teacher’s Representative confirmed the Teacher’s position in relation to the allegations:

Allegation 1 was admitted in full.

Allegations 2(a), 2(b) and 2(c) were denied.

Allegations 2(d) and 2(e) were admitted factually but denied that they amounted to impairment of the Teacher’s fitness to teach.

Throughout the hearing, the Teacher denied that his fitness to teach was impaired.

The Panel noted the Teacher’s position in respect of each allegation.

Hearing Papers

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

Presenting Officer’s Hearing Papers

1 Statement of Witness 1, undated

2 Statement of Witness 2, dated 29 September 2017 (redacted)

3 Statement of Witness 3, undated

4 Statement of Witness 4, undated

5 Certified copy indictment, dated 23 June 2016

6 Disciplinary Investigation Report (redacted), with appendices:

  • Introduction & Chronology
  • Policies, Procedures, Standards
  • Witnesses Interviewed
  • Allegations
  • Investigation Interview Statement, Chief Social Work Officer, 17 March 2015
  • Investigation Interview Statement, Head of Schools & Community Service, 24 March 2015
  • Investigation Interview Statement, Head of Schools & Community Services, 6 May 2015
  • Investigation Interview Statement, Business Manager
  • Investigation Interview Statement, Head of Customer Service, 30 March 2015
  • Investigation Interview Statement, Community Programme Manager,14 April 2014
  • Investigation Interview Statement, Depute Headteacher, 22 April 2015
  • Investigation Interview Statement, Service Manager for Children’s Practice Team, 30 April 2015
  • Investigation Interview Statement, Derek Curran – Headteacher, 5 May 2015
  • Investigation Interview Statement, Head of Schools & Community Services, 10 June 2015
  • City of Edinburgh Council Employee Code of Conduct
  • City of Edinburgh Council Disciplinary Code
  • City of Edinburgh Council Disciplinary Procedure
  • Code of Practice on Teacher Competence
  • City of Edinburgh Council Procedure Title – Staff: Allegations of Abuse (against)
  • City of Edinburgh Council Complaints Procedure
  • City of Edinburgh Council – Procedures for Children & Families staff abroad
  • Inter-agency Child Protection Procedures Edinburgh & Lothians

7 Email from Adult Learner to Witness 2, dated 31 March 2014

8 Copy letter reportedly written by Adult Learner and Witness 2.

Teacher’s Hearing Papers

1 Statement of Derek Curran, undated

2 Statement of Witness 5, dated 6 May 2019

3 DC1 – Letter confirming secondment to Castlebrae CHS, dated 10 January 2014

4 DC2 – City of Edinburgh Council Disciplinary Procedure (covering all teaching staff), dated 23  March 2004

5 DC3 – City of Edinburgh Council Disciplinary Code (covering all employees), dated 22 January 14

6 DC4 – Handwritten complaint from Adult Learner, undated

7 DC5 – Interview notes – Adult Learner, dated 7 January 2014

8 DC6 – Email exchange between Colleague 1 and Derek Curran, dated 11 March 2014

9 DC7 – Draft email from Colleague 2 to Witness 2 (unsent), dated 3 March 2014

10 DC8 – Email chain including Colleague 3, Colleague 4, Colleague 5 re whistleblowing complaint from Witness 2 (also included), dated 3 April 2014

11 DC9 – Email from Colleague 4 to Colleague 2, dated 3 April 2014

12 DC10 – Images of text messages sent by Adult Learner to Teacher A, undated

13 DC11 – Email from Derek Curran to Witness 3 and Colleague 6, dated 4 April 2014

14 DC12 – Email from Witness 1 to Derek Curran, dated 22 April 2014

15 DC13 – Email from Teacher A’s Trade Union Representative, dated 28 April 2014

16 DC14 – Email from Colleague 7 to Colleague 6, dated 23 April 2014

17 DC15 – Email exchange between Colleague  8 and Witness 5, dated 23 April 2014

18 DC16 – Email from Colleague 3 to Witness 5, dated 30 April 2014

19 DC17 – Email from Derek Curran to Witness 1, dated 30 April 2014

20 DC18 – Email from Derek Curran to Witness 1, dated 30 April 2014

21 DC19 – Email from Derek Curran to Witness 5, dated 1 May 2014

22 DC20 – Calendar meeting request acceptance (Derek Curran, Colleague3, Colleague 8 – meeting scheduled on 14 May 2014, undated

23 DC21 – Derek Curran calendar, dated 4-10 May 2014

24 DC22 – Email exchange between Witness 5 and Derek Curran, dated 2 May 2014

25 DC23 – Email exchange between Witness 5 and Derek Curran, dated 7 May 2014

25 DC24 – Interview notes Teacher A, dated 8 May 2014

26 DC25 – Investigation report (Draft 1) into allegations made by Adult Learner against Teacher A,      undated

27 DC26 – Email from Derek Curran to Colleague, 8 dated 14 May 2014

28 DC27 – Email exchange between Colleague 8 and Derek Curran, dated 16 May 2014

29 DC28 – Derek Curran suspension letter, dated 4 June 2014

30 DC29 – Representations on behalf of Derek Curran re TRO, dated 15 September 2014

31 DC30 – GTCS Decision Notice re TRO, dated 16 September 2014

32 DC31 – Derek Curran Dismissal Letter 1, dated 22 September 2015

33 DC32 – Derek Curran Dismissal Letter 2, dated 24 September 2015

34 DC33 – Derek Curran Letter of Appeal, dated 5 October 2015

35 DC34 – Appeal outcome letter dated 5, January 2016

36 DC35 – Indictment, dated 23 June 2016

37 DC36 – Edinburgh Evening News article, dated 17 June 2016

38 DC37 – Timeline of complaints, undated.

Servicing Officer’s Hearing Papers

1 Notice of Full Hearing, dated 29 January 2020 with email delivery/read receipts

2 Notice of Full Hearing, dated 3 November 2021 with email delivery/read receipts

3 Procedural Decision Annex, dated 9 March 2021.

Summary of Evidence

The Panel noted the Teacher had admitted allegation 1. Accordingly, the Panel had to determine whether allegations 2(a), 2(b), 2(c), 2(d) and 2(e) were proved.

The Panel had sight of the Full Hearing paperwork and the live evidence of the witnesses.

Witness 1

Witness 1 gave evidence in person on 4 March 2020. At the outset of his evidence, Witness 1 read aloud his undated witness statement and was asked some supplementary questions by the Presenting Officer before being cross-examined by the Teacher’s Representative. Witness 1 began as Acting Deputy Headteacher at Castlebrae Community High School (‘CCHS’) at the same time as the Teacher in 2013. He spoke to the progression of the investigation from the initial reporting of allegations against Teacher A by the Adult Learner on 6 January 2014 and of being appointed as the Investigating Officer (’IO’) by the Teacher. He and the Teacher had agreed to delay contacting Teacher A about the allegations due to Teacher A’s sickness absence and the difficulties encountered by himself in having the Adult Learner sign her statement. He confirmed he had kept the Teacher aware of matters regarding the investigation. He spoke about Witness 2, the school’s Community Programme Manager informing both him and the Teacher on 31 March 2014 of her contact with the Adult Learner and her belief that the investigation had been incorrectly handled. He confirmed that he sent an email to the City of Edinburgh Council (’CEC’) on 22 April 2014, copied to the Teacher, following the complaint lodged by Witness 2 with CEC regarding the investigation. At his meeting with Teacher A on 8 May 2014, disclosure was made of a sexual relationship which the Adult Learner told Teacher A occurred when she was fifteen years old with another unnamed teacher. Witness 1 informed the Teacher of the allegations of historical sexual abuse as the Teacher was the school’s designated Child Protection Officer, but he was unable to recall the Teacher’s response. Witness 1 spoke to drafting the investigatory report over the weekend of 10-11 May 2014 and then emailing it to the Teacher on 12 May 2014. Witness 1 confirmed that 3-4 working days later, Colleague 8, CEC Head of School and Community Service had removed the investigation from the school. Witness 1 confirmed that the Teacher had met with the Adult Learner in the school on 12 May 2014, and that Witness 5 was the Teacher’s line manager. The witness acknowledged that at the time he was appointed to carry out the investigation into the Adult Learner’s allegation, he had felt qualified to do so but with hindsight perhaps this had not been the case. He also accepted, again with hindsight, that the investigation should have gone outwith the school regarding the historical sexual abuse allegations more quickly than it did and that he would have benefited from additional guidance.

During cross-examination by the Teacher’s Representative, the witness accepted that there was a disparity within his GTCS witness statement and interview statement provided to the Local Authority in relation to the timing of when he was made aware of the text messages between the Adult Learner and Teacher A. He confirmed that he thought he had informed the Teacher of the historical sexual abuse allegations on 8 May 2014 following his interview with Teacher A but noted the Teacher’s position that it had occurred on 12 May 2014.

Witness 2

Witness 2 gave evidence in person on 4 March 2020. At the outset of her evidence, Witness 2 read aloud her witness statement dated 29 September 2017 and was asked some supplementary questions before being cross-examined by the Teacher’s Representative. Witness 2 confirmed she had been the Community Programme Manager at CCHS since September 1994. She confirmed her initial contact with the Adult Learner in August 2013 was followed up by an email dated 31 March 2014 in which the Adult Learner informed her of having reported allegations of sexual harassment by Teacher A and that Witness 1 was investigating. Witness 2 reviewed the CEC policy on handling sexual abuse claims and met with the Adult Learner on 1 April 2014. She confirmed that on 2 April 2014 following a meeting with Witness 1, at which she had sought an explanation regarding the investigation, she was recalled to the Teacher’s office. At this meeting with Witness 1 present, she stated that the Teacher was angry and had advised the allegations had not been reported to CEC and that she was to keep out of the matter. She confirmed her distress led her to make a public interest disclosure via email to a senior manager within CEC on 3 April 2014. On 12 May 2014, she made a whistleblowing report as she had not received a reply to her email from CEC.  She had attended meetings between the Adult Learner and a local councillor and gone with her to report matters to the police. She spoke of her concern that the Adult Learner had arranged to meet the Teacher on 12 May 2014 without being accompanied. She confirmed that the grievances lodged by her against the Teacher predated any knowledge of matters concerning the Teacher and the Adult Learner. She confirmed that she had been fully reinstated to her position with CEC following the Teacher’s dismissal.

During cross-examination by the Teacher’s Representative, the witness confirmed that she strongly believed that the investigation into the Adult Learner’s allegations was not being carried out correctly and that, in her view, external scrutiny was required. The witness agreed that the Teacher told her to ‘keep her nose out’ but that this was unrealistic for her to do as the Adult Learner was one of her service users who had approached her directly. She agreed when it was put to her that the Adult Learner required the support of a female member of staff. When asked, in relation to eighteen grievances or so she had lodged over her career with CEC, the witness was unable to confirm if this was the correct number. She further stated she had only ever made one whistleblowing complaint and that she was not intimidated by any manager.

In response to the Panel’s questions, Witness 2 was asked in what way policy and procedure was not followed as far as the Teacher’s responsibilities were concerned.  The witness was unable to say specifically how, other than to note that the Adult Learner should have been made aware of the relevant procedures. She referred to Staff: Allegations of Abuse Policy which states that ‘this procedure will be initiated along with the relevant Adult and Child Protection Procedures’ and said that the Adult Learner had not been told this.  She also said that the Adult Learner should have been offered the opportunity to have someone with her. The witness stated that the Adult Learner did not have anyone with her during the interview, but she was unable to say that this was not offered to the Adult Learner. The witness also confirmed to the Panel that she had not been in touch at all with the Adult Learner between 6 January 2014 and the end of March 2014. 

Witness 3

Witness 3 gave evidence in person on 5 March 2020. At the outset of his evidence, the witness read aloud his undated witness statement and was asked some supplementary questions by the Presenting Officer before being cross-examined by the Teacher’s Representative. He confirmed his employment with CEC from 1979 to 2015 and that as of 1 January 2014 he had been seconded full time to the CEC Transformation Team from his previous position as Head of Schools and Community Services. He spoke to the Teacher being appointed as Headteacher to CCHS in June 2013 with Witness 5 as his line manager. He spoke to the historical nature of adult student involvement and that this practice had dwindled by 2015. He spoke to being shown by Colleague 6, CEC Director of Children and Families, the whistleblowing email from Witness 2 on 3 April 2014. He said he was surprised to receive the Teacher’s email dated 4 April 2014 given his secondment and that it ought to have gone to Witness 5, or Colleague 9 who was covering his post. He confirmed that if the allegations made could amount to gross misconduct the matter would have required to be reported immediately to a senior manager as a headteacher did not have delegated authority to dismiss a staff member. He confirmed his understanding that the Teacher had reported matters to Witness 5 and further that a Senior Human Resources (‘HR’) officer had confirmed that the course of action taken by the Teacher and Witness 5 had been correct. He stated this had been confirmed in the draft reply email however this had inadvertently not been sent to Witness 2. He stated that his expectation would have been for support to be offered to the Adult Learner by the Teacher and that Witness 5 had confirmed that she and the Teacher considered support was being provided by Witness 2. He stated that any allegation of historical sexual abuse should have been reported immediately to Colleague 10 as a lead officer within social work for child protection and that COPAC applied.

In relation to travel booking and travel expenses, he confirmed that headteachers had a high level of delegated authority regarding expenditure and that he was unsurprised at the Teacher’s non-compliance with CEC procurement policies.

With regard to the engagement of a teacher to provide services on a consultancy basis, he stated that this would be an unusual approach requiring a line manager to be informed or to seek assistance from another Headteacher.

During cross-examination by the Teacher’s Representative, the witness agreed that the Teacher had been well-regarded which led to his selection as the Headteacher for CCHS. He agreed with the suggestion made by the Teacher’s Representative that the investigation at the school had been carried out in accordance with CEC policy and that it had been carried out in accordance with good practice. He was unable to recall if the CEC disciplinary policy specifically referred to offering support to someone making an allegation and confirmed he had no sight of Witness 1’s draft report.

During further questioning by the Presenting Officer, he stated that it was both a well-known and long-standing practice for Headteachers to make their own travel arrangements given their near unanimous view that CEC’s procurement arrangements did not provide good value for money and that bypassing these could save CEC money.

Witness 4

Witness 4 gave evidence in person on 5 March 2020. At the outset of his evidence, the witness read aloud his undated witness statement and was asked some supplementary questions by the Presenting Officer before being cross-examined by the Teacher’s Representative. Witness 4 confirmed he had been appointed in 2005 to conduct the disciplinary investigation into the Teacher which had encompassed the child protection disclosure made by Teacher A. He described the investigatory process and that he had found the Teacher had a case to answer on a number of grounds. He described the sequence of events from 6 January 2014 to 7 June 2014 when the Teacher was informed of his precautionary suspension from the school. He stated that the CEC’s ‘ORB’ was an online toolkit for disciplinary procedures and that professional advice and assistance would have been available also to the Teacher from the high-risk case team. He stated that as an experienced Headteacher, the Teacher should have managed the situation with Teacher A properly as the IO had only a ’dim awareness’. In particular, he stated that Teacher A should have been placed on precautionary suspension on 8 May 2014 and that this was carried out on 14 May 2014 following the removal of the investigation from the school.

He stated that from a professional standards perspective, COPAC applied but that there appeared to be a failure on the part of the Teacher to accept the inappropriateness of a relationship between a pupil and a teacher due to the pupil being an adult.  

He stated that the Teacher, in making his own travel arrangements for the trip to Madrid, had failed to complete the relevant CEC form provided by the school’s business manager and had authorised his own travel.

Similarly, with regard to employment of tertiary staff, he stated that the Teacher failed to follow CEC’s robust processes and procedures which include calculation of PAYE and national insurance contributions. He stated that in his opinion the Teacher’s action in circumventing CEC procedures was an attempt to avoid payment of tax and NI which was unlawful.

During cross-examination by the Teacher’s representative, the witness stated that the word ‘unlawful’ in his statement was not his own words, and he agreed that his concern was just that it was not in accordance with policies and procedures. The witness stated that he was firmly of the view that due to the seriousness of the allegations made by the Adult Learner, HR should have been consulted during the investigation. He stated that he was unaware of HR’s view as detailed in the draft email of 3 April 2014 due to it being beyond his own investigation. When questioned with regard to the tertiary payments, the witness was clear that payment should be through the CEC payroll as the person providing the consultancy was already on the CEC payroll regardless of the school having a devolved budget.

The Teacher – Derek Curran

The Teacher gave evidence on 6 January 2022. This was conducted virtually via MS Teams following the Panel’s approval of the virtual hearing application made by the Presenting Officer.

At the outset of his evidence, the Teacher read aloud both his witness statements, namely the undated statement which was lodged as part of his original submissions, and the statement dated 9 December 2021 which was accepted by the Panel as a late paper. In the course of doing so, he was asked supplementary questions by his Representative before being cross-examined by the Presenting Officer. Having set out his qualifications and teaching experience in detail, the Teacher explained that he had been asked by Witness 3 and Colleague 11 to take over as the Headteacher at CCHS following a difficult period in 2013 when the school had been recommended for closure. The Teacher confirmed having first been made aware of the Adult Learner’s allegations on 7 January 2014 and that he had assigned the role of Investigating Officer to Witness 1 believing him to be capable of conducting the investigation. He spoke to assisting Witness 1 by providing a draft list of questions for use when interviewing the Adult Learner. He confirmed that he contacted his line manager, Witness 5, on 7 January 2014 and she had agreed with the arrangements which had been put in place for the investigatory process. He confirmed that a meeting had taken place with Witness 2 at which Witness 1 was present, and that the Teacher had told Witness 2 not to compromise the investigation. He confirmed, having met with the Adult Learner on 21 March 2014, that she had been reassured the investigation was being progressed by Witness 1. The Teacher was made aware of the complaint made by Witness 2 on 3 April 2014 by Witness 1. He stated that he had kept his line manager, Witness 5, fully informed from the earliest possible point and that she had been in agreement with arrangements regarding the investigation. Further, he stated that as of 4 April 2014, it had been confirmed by senior management, in the draft email reply to Witness 2’s complaint, that matters had been handled appropriately. He was dismissed from CEC employment in September 2015 and lost his appeal against the dismissal.

In relation to allegation 1, he provided a detailed background to the incident which led to his criminal conviction on 16 June 2016 for which he was admonished. [redacted]

 In relation to allegation 2(a), the Teacher stated that he had complied with all the requirements of CEC policies and procedures in the appointment of Witness 1 as the IO, in retaining the investigation within the school and in keeping his line manager advised and fully informed from the earliest possible date and throughout. He denied ever saying to Witness 1 that the investigation would require to establish if the relationship was consensual. He had sought to ensure the integrity of the investigation and had noted senior management’s approval of his approach until the investigation was removed from the school in May 2014.

In relation to allegation 2(b), the Teacher confirmed that in the absence of any specific policy, it was his position that it was difficult to determine what support, if any, was necessary in relation to the Adult Learner and that he was unaware of any support offered by CEC once the investigation had been removed from the school.

In relation to allegation 2(c), the Teacher confirmed that he first was informed by Witness 1 of the historical sexual abuse allegations on Monday 12 May 2014 and had informed his line manager, Witness 5, the same day.  He stated that these allegations had only been included in Witness 1’s second draft of the report at his behest.

In relation to allegation 2(d), the Teacher stated that he made his own travel arrangements due to the late notice of his requirement to attend and that in any case this was common practice adopted by schools to maximise available finances through bypassing CEC procurement policies and procedures.

In relation to allegation 2(e), the Teacher confirmed his belief that the engagement of tertiary services on a consultancy basis, with requested payment by cheque, was not gross misconduct.

The Teacher stated that the Temporary Restriction Order imposed upon him on 16 September 2014 had a profound impact on him. He accepted that with hindsight he could have taken different steps with regard to how the investigation was handled but that, throughout, his aim had been to ensure transparency and that he had shared information at the earliest possible stage with senior management.

Having read aloud and supplemented his witness statement, the Teacher was then asked a number of questions in cross-examination by the Presenting Officer. During questioning, he accepted that with hindsight it may have been better had Witness 1 completed formal training in conducting disciplinary investigations prior to undertaking the role of an IO. The Teacher clarified that his role was to appoint a senior member of school staff as the IO and thereafter to retain the responsibility by ensuring CEC procedures were adhered to throughout the preliminary investigation within the school. The Teacher denied that he had tasked Witness 1 with determining whether the relationship between the Adult Learner and Teacher A had been consensual. The Teacher also denied that he had told Witness 1 not to inform the CEC Human Resources about the allegations as he stated they had never had a conversation about HR. The Teacher stated that he had notified his senior managers, including Witness 5, and that no one had told him to contact HR. The Teacher stated that at no point had HR suggested any steps taken within the school were not compliant with CEC policies.  The Teacher stated that he was familiar with the CEC’s Disciplinary Procedure for Teaching Staff. In relation to informing Teacher A of the allegations, the Teacher stated that, in accordance with other situations where a teacher has a serious illness which is certified by a doctor, there would be no need to contact the teacher at that point, in particular as no timescale was given within the Council procedure nor any definition of ‘early stage’.

The Teacher stated that Teacher A was not informed of the allegations against him from 7 January 2014 until 8 May 2014 as Teacher A was not in school, having suffered a stroke. The Teacher also stated that there had been significant difficulties making contact with the Adult Learner. The Teacher stated that Witness 1 tried to get in contact with the Adult Learner; however, she did not sign her witness statement until 14 April 2014.

The Teacher denied that he had failed to assess the seriousness of the allegations made by the Adult Learner in appointing Witness 1 as the IO. He denied that the delays in the investigation, firstly in informing Teacher A of the allegations against him, and secondly in having the Adult Learner’s witness statement signed by her, amounted to any failure on his part to properly progress the investigation. When asked about the list of questions which the Teacher had given to Witness 1, the Teacher accepted that with hindsight it may have been better to have included the issue of support but that the list had been a starter to assist the IO upon which he could have improved.  The Teacher stated that no offer of support had been made to the Adult Learner following the investigation’s removal from the school. The Teacher stated that support had been offered by Witness 1 in keeping the Adult Learner informed and updated regarding the investigation and that support was also being provided by Witness 2’ s engagement with the Adult Learner.  

In relation to the date when the Teacher had been informed by Witness 1 of the historical sexual abuse allegations, the Teacher denied this was 8 May 2014. The Teacher stated that Witness 1 was incorrect in his recollection of events as he did not learn of these allegations until 12 May 2014. The Teacher recalled seeing Teacher A being interviewed by Witness 1 in an ante room as he left the school on 8 May 2014, and further referred to his electronic diary records showing his engagements at that time.

The Teacher confirmed his awareness of CEC procedures on procurement. He stated that it was common practice for Headteachers to seek to save money where possible by circumventing CEC procedures. The Teacher stated that he had prior permission from Colleague 11, one of his two line managers, along with Witness 5, and that he had done so regularly with the sole aim of saving the school money. When asked about the arrangements made in relation to the tertiary staff’s payment, the Teacher stated the steps he had taken and explained that this was quite a common method to pay for consultancy services. The Teacher denied that he had failed to follow CEC procedures as engagement of tertiary services did not equate to appointing a staff member.

Witness 5

Witness 5 gave evidence virtually via MS Teams on 7 January 2022. At the outset of her evidence, the witness read aloud her witness statement dated 6 May 2019 and in the course of doing so she was asked supplementary questions by the Teacher’s Representative before being cross-examined by the Presenting Officer. Having set out her teaching experience and qualifications in detail, she confirmed that in January 2014 she was a Senior Manager with CEC and line manager to 23 Headteachers, including the Teacher, all of whom retained a high level of autonomy. She confirmed that she had been informed by the Teacher of the Adult Learner’s allegations and of the proposed investigatory process with which she had been in agreement. She confirmed that she had been kept fully informed by the Teacher throughout the process and until the investigation was removed from the school in May 2014. She recalled being informed by the Teacher of historical child sexual abuse allegations on 12 May 2014 and was clear it was in the afternoon following a meeting. She stated that the Teacher reported having told Witness 1 to include these further allegations in his second draft of the report as he had not done so in the first draft. She confirmed that it was a difficult issue regarding when to inform Teacher A of the allegations made by the Adult Learner given that he was on certified sick leave and that any added stress would not be conducive to his recovery. She accepted that, in hindsight, perhaps the gap had been too long as the Teacher had not telephoned Teacher A until 16 April 2014 and the subsequent meeting was arranged for 8 May 2014.  The witness stated that she had been aware of the complaint sent by Witness 2 dated 3 April 2014 and that HR had confirmed the investigation carried out until then had been appropriate. She confirmed that she became aware of the internal confusion which led to the finalised draft reply email not being sent to Witness 2 until later. She confirmed that she was not informed of the Teacher’s precautionary suspension at the end of May/start of June 2014 but that she was tasked with attending CCHS to inform staff. She also confirmed that she was never approached by CEC to provide a witness statement during the Teacher’s disciplinary process which she considered wholly wrong as she was his line manager. She confirmed that it was a common practice for travel expenses including flights to be reimbursed via school funds and that the use of funds to fund support for a non-specialist teacher was also not uncommon.

When asked in cross-examination if Witness 1 had been an appropriate choice for the IO given his lack of conducting disciplinary investigations previously, the witness stated that it was normal practice for a headteacher to use a depute headteacher in this role and it had been an appropriate decision given how well the Teacher knew Witness 1. She confirmed that training was online and accessible to Witness 1, as HR were no longer able to offer direct training support. When asked whether the delay in informing Teacher A of the allegations against him was appropriate, the witness stated that it was a matter of judgement taken in light of the seriousness of the underlying sickness as evidenced by the certified sick lines for Teacher A. She stated that it was agreed contact would be made with Teacher A by the end of that term and that the decision was influenced by the Adult Learner’s lack of contact regarding the signing of her statement and her failure to provide the further documentation she had promised. She confirmed that HR had become aware of the allegations as a result of Witness 2’s complaint letter dated 2 or 4 May 2014. She accepted that with hindsight HR should have been contacted earlier but that nothing would have changed as HR would not have been in a position to offer any additional support and so the outcome would have remained the same. In addition, she stated that as Headteachers were equivalent to senior officers within CEC, they were expected to manage such situations.  Asked when the Teacher advised he had first been made aware of the historic sexual abuse allegations, the witness was clear that she and the Teacher had a conversation at 5 pm on 12 May 2014. During that conversation, the Teacher had advised her of Witness 1’s investigatory interviews on 8 and 9 May 2014 and that Witness 1 had completed his first draft report over the weekend of 10-11 May 2014. She recalled the Teacher confirmed he had only been made aware of the historical sexual abuse issues on 12 May 2014 and had said to her, ‘You’ll never guess’.   

In response to questions from the Panel, she confirmed that there was no policy around support for adult learners. She was of the view that the Adult Learner was supported by Witness 2 and that Witness 1 had tried to contact her and keep her informed but there was no response.

Submissions on the Alleged Facts

At the conclusion of the evidence, the Panel heard submissions from both the Presenting Officer and from the Teacher’s Representative. In reaching a decision the Panel had careful regard to the submissions made, which can be summarised as follows.

The Presenting Officer submitted that under Rule 1.7.15 the burden of proof rested upon him to prove the allegations. He referred the Panel to the Fact-Finding in Fitness to Teach Conduct Cases Practice Statement. The Presenting Officer submitted that in terms of Rule 1.7.18 the certified copy indictment was evidence of the Teacher’s conviction. The Presenting Officer submitted that, based on what had been accepted by the Teacher there was very little in direct dispute between the parties. He submitted a key factual dispute lay between the Teacher and Witness 1 regarding allegation 2(c) as to when the Teacher had become aware of the allegations of historical sexual abuse. He submitted that the evidence of Witness 1 should be preferred as clear and consistent that the Teacher had been informed on 8 May 2014. The Presenting Officer invited the Panel to find the evidence of Witness 3 and Witness 4 as credible and reliable regarding the investigations and CEC policies. The Presenting Officer accepted that there were issues in the relationship between the Teacher and Witness 2. However, he reminded the Panel that Witness 2 was not required to prove the allegations. The Presenting Officer submitted that the Teacher had failed to progress the investigation and had failed to conduct it appropriately by failing to inform CEC’s HR. He submitted that the Teacher had accepted to some extent that more could have been done to support the Adult Learner. The Presenting Officer invited the Panel to prefer the evidence of Witness 1 with regard to the date of the Teacher’s knowledge of the allegations of historical sexual abuse. He submitted that the Teacher’s failure to take appropriate steps should be viewed in light of the Teacher’s acknowledgement of having received the highest level of Child Protection Training. In relation to allegations 2(d) and 2(e), the Presenting Officer submitted that the Teacher’s own evidence demonstrated that he had acted outwith CEC procedures.

The Presenting Officer invited the Panel to find all of the allegations proved on the balance of probabilities.

The Teacher’s Representative submitted that this was a difficult case as it appeared that a headteacher seeking to save money for his school was worthy of investigation despite it being common knowledge within the local authority that this occurred on an ongoing basis and by many Headteachers. He submitted that Witness 2 had a ‘visceral loathing’ of the Teacher which affected her evidence. The Teacher’s Representative drew the Panel’s attention to the email trail which showed that senior managers within CEC had reviewed the investigations carried out by Witness 1 and the Teacher and confirmed they were in accordance with CEC policy and procedures. He submitted that CEC had failed in its duty of care to the Teacher who had acted at all times in accordance with CEC policies and procedures.

The Teacher’s Representative submitted that in relation to allegation 2(a), it was a matter that deputes need to be able to investigate, The IO was a senior teacher in the school, and therefore, the Teacher’s decision to appoint Witness 1 as an IO was a perfectly defensible decision by a school manager.  The Representative also submitted the Teacher had shared this information timeously with his line manager, Witness 5, who herself was a CEC senior manager.

In relation to allegation 2(b), the Teacher’s Representative submitted that Witness 1, as the IO, had offered support to the Adult Learner by seeking to keep in contact with her and by updating her on the investigation’s progress. In addition, Witness 2 was the person responsible for pastoral care and she had been in contact with the Adult Learner. He submitted that the Teacher had done all that he could and, further, that none of GTC Scotland’s witnesses were able to direct the Panel to a CEC policy detailing the support which should have been offered to the Adult Learner.

In relation to allegation 2(c), the Teacher’s Representative submitted it was for the Panel to determine which evidence it preferred, Witness 1 saying that the Teacher was informed on 8 May 2014 or the Teacher’s and Witness 5’s evidence that it was on 12 May 2014. He submitted that the Panel should prefer the Teacher’s and Witness 5’s evidence. However, were the Panel to accept Witness 1’s evidence, the Teacher’s Representative submitted that the Panel should consider whether a delay of a few days amounted to a failure given the context of the case, namely that the matter reported related to events allegedly having occurred some nine years previously.

In relation to allegation 2(d), the Teacher’s Representative submitted that it was common knowledge within CEC that many of its Headteachers did not adhere to the CEC procurement procedure and policy on the grounds that money could be saved by schools in by-passing it.  

In relation to allegation 2(e), the Teacher’s Representative asked the Panel to consider the evidence of  Witness 3 who confirmed that the Teacher’s practice was somewhat unusual but that there had been no challenge to the Teacher’s version of events.

Findings of Fact

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. In reaching a decision, the Panel also had regard to the Fact-Finding in Fitness to Teach Conduct Cases Practice Statement.

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 was of the view that Witness 1 was a credible witness but was not reliable. The Panel thought that he gave his evidence in a somewhat casual manner and was unable to recall matters in detail. The Panel did not consider that he had a strong allegiance to the Teacher.

The Panel was of the view that Witness 2, was neither a credible nor a reliable witness as her evidence was coloured by her evident antipathy towards the Teacher. The Panel considered that the witness was telling the truth from her own perspective but given the remarkable level of investment on her part in the matter and her limited knowledge, she was not objective in her evidence.

The Panel was of the view that Witness 3 and Witness 4 were both credible and reliable witnesses, albeit of a more limited nature in their evidence and with patchy recollection at times. Both witnesses had been able to recall some of the CEC procedures but were unable to furnish the Panel with details in any depth or specificity.

The Panel considered the Teacher to have been both credible and reliable. The Panel thought that the Teacher had given his evidence confidently, was accurate in his recollections and had displayed a degree of honesty in accepting that he could have acted differently in certain circumstances. The Panel considered that whilst he was not objective, he had been candid and coherent, and was better informed than  GTC Scotland’s witnesses. The Panel noted his evidence was supported by Witness 5.

Similarly, the Panel was of the view that Witness 5 was a credible and reliable witness. She had been clear and consistent in her evidence and her approach was from an operational perspective whereas other witnesses’ frame of reference had been theoretical.  The Panel considered that she was supportive of the Teacher but that she had not sought to manipulate her evidence to accommodate him in relation to the allegations.

Allegation 1

The Panel noted that the Teacher had admitted allegation 1. Further to this, the Panel noted that this allegation related to a conviction and the Panel was provded with a certified copy indictment, dated 23 June 2016.  

Accordingly, in line with Rules 1.7.18 and 1.7.21, the Panel found this allegation proved.

The Panel then had regard to the allegations which had been denied.

Allegation 2(a)

In relation to allegation 2(a), the Panel considered the email trail within CEC following the receipt of Witness 2’s complaint. The Panel noted that due to an apparent internal mix-up, the final version of the response email to Witness 2 had not been sent. The Panel also noted that the terms of the email confirmed that the CEC’s Education Department – Children and Families was satisfied with the progress and conduct of the investigation undertaken by Witness 1 and the Teacher. On that basis, the Panel considered there was sufficient evidence that the actions taken by the Teacher had been deemed appropriate by senior officers within  CEC. Further to this, the Panel carefully considered  Staff: Allegations of Abuse policy and Child Protection policy, specifically regarding the historical child abuse, and was of the view that there was no persuasive evidence of significant deviation from this. In the Panel’s view, the Teacher’s explanation for the delay in telling Teacher A of the allegation seemed reasonable to the Panel.

Accordingly, the Panel did not find allegation 2(a) proved.

Allegation 2(b)

In relation to allegation 2(b), the Panel noted that whilst the terms of the allegation are against the Teacher, it was Witness 1 as the IO who had direct contact with the Adult Learner. The Panel noted that the Teacher considered provision of support to the Adult Learner as the responsibility of Witness 2 in her role as Community Programme Manager. However, he had accepted that, overall, it was his responsibility. The Panel determined that on the balance of probabilities it had insufficient evidence to establish there had been a failure on the part of the Teacher to provide sufficient support. The Panel considered that it did not have before it any written obligation or policy to substantiate a failure to provide support to the Adult Learner. The Panel noted that following the investigation’s removal from the school, no support measures had been put in place. The Panel determined that during the school’s investigation, support had been provided to the Adult Learner by seeking to keep her updated with regard to the investigation and its progress. Therefore, sufficient support was offered because there was no policy in place which defined what support was required to be offered to the Adult Learner by the Teacher.

Accordingly, the Panel did not find allegation 2(b) proved.

Allegation 2(c)

In relation to allegation 2(c), the Panel noted the evidence from Witness 1 in his witness statement that he had informed the Teacher on Thursday 8 May 2014 but that he had then accepted when giving evidence that it could have been on Monday 12 May 2014. The Panel noted that the Teacher had been clear on being informed on 12 May 2014 and was able to provide the Panel with the context in terms of his own recollection and electronic diary entries. The Panel noted that the Teacher’s position was confirmed by his line manager, Witness 5. The Panel preferred the evidence of the Teacher to that of Witness 1 on the basis of the Teacher’s consistency of evidence in his witness statement and evidence before Panel.

Accordingly, the Panel did not find allegation 2(c) proved.

Allegation 2(d)

In relation to allegation 2(d), the Panel noted the Teacher’s acceptance that he had failed to follow CEC procedure. The Panel noted that the Teacher had considered his actions to be worthwhile in seeking to save the school money. The Panel found this allegation proved as CEC had a policy which the Teacher acknowledged he had failed to follow.

Accordingly, allegation 2(d) was found proved.

Allegation 2(e)

In relation to allegation 2(e), the Panel noted the Teacher’s explanation for the payment he had sought for consultancy services within the school. The Panel was not taken to any CEC procedure which detailed steps to be taken when engaging a consultant as opposed to employing a member of staff. The Panel did not consider it had been provided with evidence that the Teacher had failed to follow any specific steps required by CEC. The Panel considered there was no evidence that the Teacher’s actions had been carried out in order to seek to avoid payment of tax and national insurance. The Panel, on the basis of the evidence available to it, was not satisfied that it could be proved that the Teacher had been seeking to avoid payment of tax and national insurance.

Accordingly, the Panel did not find allegation 2(e) proved.

Accordingly, by reason of the Teacher’s admission in relation to part of the allegations and the Panel’s consideration of evidence in relation to parts of the allegations, the Panel found allegations 1 and 2(d) proved.

Findings on Fitness to Teach

Given that the Panel found that allegations 1 and 2(d) were proved, the Panel invited the parties to lead evidence and make submissions in relation to the Teacher’s fitness to teach.

The Presenting Officer in his brief submission submitted it was a matter entirely for the Panel to determine, exercising its professional judgement. The Presenting Officer referred the Panel to the Public Services Reform (GTCS) Order 2011 for the definition of conduct which falls below the standards required and to the guidance within the IOG at Part A. The Presenting Officer reminded the Panel of the requirement to consider the public interest. He submitted that the allegations found proved amounted to misconduct of the type which had an effect upon impairment and referred the Panel to the case of Roylance v GMC [2000] 1 AC 311. He invited the Panel to find that the Teacher’s fitness to teach was impaired.

The Teacher’s Representative submitted that the two allegations found proved were unalike and that only rarely could matters of a more minor nature be aggregated to form a finding of misconduct. He directed the Panel to the cases of Schodlok v GMC [2015] EWCA Civ 769 and Spencer v GOC [2012] EWHC 3147. The Teacher’s Representative submitted that, to amount to misconduct, there required to be an implication of moral blameworthiness and opprobrium. He referred the Panel to the case of Khan v BSB [2018] EWHC 2184.

In relation to allegation 1, the Teacher’s Representative submitted that with the Panel’s knowledge of the Teacher’s private life, there was an explanation of a stressful family situation, although this information was not a justification for the Teacher’s behaviour. He submitted it was a temporary lapse on the part of the Teacher which in the context provided was forgivable and which did not impair the Teacher’s current fitness to teach. With regard to allegation 2(d), the Teacher’s Representative invited the Panel to consider the evidence of the GTC Scotland witnesses who confirmed that there was a near unanimous view held by headteachers that savings could be achieved by accessing cheaper travel outwith the CEC’s procurement procedure. He invited the Panel to note witnesses’ evidence that it was common knowledge within CEC that this practice was continuing and that efforts had been ongoing to address this long-standing difficulty in achieving compliance by Headteachers. He submitted that a Headteacher seeking to save public money could not amount to misconduct.

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 IOG.

  • Did the Teacher’s conduct or competence at the time of the incidents fall short of the

expected professional standards?

The Panel assessed the Teacher’s conduct by reference to COPAC. The Panel determined that the Teacher’s conduct did not fall short of COPAC in relation to the conduct found proved in allegation 2(d).  The Panel was of the view that Parts  2.4 and 2.6 of the COPAC were no longer relevant, as they refer to child protection matters.  The Panel also looked at Parts  1.3, 1.4 and 1.5, and determined that the evidence presented did not amount to a lack of integrity (1.4 and 1.5), as this was a course of action taken by many headteachers, and there was no intention to be dishonest.  The Panel found there was no breach of COPAC in this course of action.

The Panel determined that the Teacher’s conduct fell short of Parts 1.3 and 1.4 of COPAC in relation to allegation 1. The Panel found that the Teacher’s conduct found proved at allegation 1 breached both parts of COPAC referred to, it fell short of the standards of expected of a registered teacher and was sufficiently serious to amount to misconduct. The Panel noted that there had been a breach of the criminal law that had occurred in particular familial circumstances.

  • Are the shortfalls identified remediable, have they been remedied and is there a likelihood of reoccurrence?

The Panel’s view of the Teacher’s conduct in relation to allegation 1 was that it had been serious but that it was not fundamentally incompatible with being a registered teacher due to the specific context of the behaviour which, albeit disruptive, had not resulted in physical harm and was rooted in a particular familial background. The Panel accepted as genuine the Teacher’s explanation of the background circumstances to the incident. The Panel also noted that the Teacher accepted full responsibility for his behaviour. The Panel considered that the Teacher had evidenced insight and remorse and it was satisfied that he appreciated the seriousness of the allegation. The Panel considered that the shortfall in his conduct was remediable. The Panel was persuaded that the shortfall identified had been remedied. The Panel was of the view there was a low likelihood of reoccurrence given the specific circumstances of the incident. The Panel noted this was a one-off incident of which there had been no repetition in subsequent years.

  • Is a finding of impairment required in the public interest?

The Panel noted that in relation to allegation 1, this was a one-off incident that had not resulted in direct harm, and which had occurred in particular circumstances. The Panel noted that there had been no further incidents in the intervening eight years. The Panel noted that the matter had been brought before GTC Scotland and adjudicated upon and that the Teacher had admitted the allegation in full and provided insight and remorse for his actions.  The Panel determined that the public interest did not require a finding of impairment against the Teacher. The Panel considered that a fair and just regulator was required to act in a proportionate manner and that a finding of a breach of COPAC would act as a sufficient deterrent.

Accordingly, for the reasons set out above, the Panel determined that the Teacher’s conduct does not currently fall short of the standards expected of a registered teacher and that his fitness to teach is not currently impaired.

As the Panel had determined that the Teacher’s fitness to teach is not currently impaired, there was no need to proceed with the remaining stages of the hearing and this determination marked the end of proceedings.  

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