Giving evidence at a Fitness to Teach hearing
We will ask you to come to a Fitness to Teach hearing because we think you should give your evidence in person.
We need you to be there so you can answer questions. Your answers will help the Panel with the information it needs to decide the case.
We will give you at least 28 days’ notice that you are required to attend a hearing.
Hearings are held in person at our office in Edinburgh or virtually via Microsoft Teams.
If you are attending an in-person hearing, you will be shown to the witness desk.
If you are attending a virtual hearing, you will be held in a virtual lobby and admitted into the hearing.
The Convener chairs the hearing. They will introduce the Panel and explain the proceedings.
If you have new evidence you think would be helpful for the Panel, let us know immediately.
The Convener will ask you if you wish to take the Oath or the Affirmation:
- Oath: I swear by almighty God that I will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
- Affirmation: I do solemnly and sincerely declare that I will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
The Convener may ask you to read out the statement you provided.
We may have redacted parts of your statement. Please be assured that there will be a reason for this. We will tell you about this in advance.
The Presenting Officer, the teacher or college lecturer (or their representative) and the Panel may ask you questions.
If you are a vulnerable witness, the teacher or college lecturer may not be allowed to question you directly.
Giving evidence can be hard. Please take your time and speak clearly. If there is anything that you do not understand, of if you need a break, please let the Convener know.
You should provide your evidence openly and honestly. If you do not know the answer to a question or cannot remember something, say so.
Once you have answered all questions, you will be free to leave. If the hearing is public, you may stay to watch the remainder of the proceedings. Do not talk to anyone in the hearing about your evidence or the case.
What happens next?
The Panel’s decision will be published on this website. View decisions.
The decision may be published a while after you have given evidence, especially if it is a multiple-day hearing.
Witnesses will not be named in the decision and are referred to by a pseudonym, for example, ‘Witness 1’.
Journalists may include your evidence in articles or news stories about the hearing.
Frequently asked questions
I have been asked to attend an in-person hearing, what should I expect?
I have been asked to attend a virtual hearing, what should I expect?
Hearings are usually held in public.
Members of the public can attend, including the press.
Your name will be referred to at the hearing unless a Panel has ordered it is anonymised.
In exceptional circumstances, a Panel can prevent or restrict the public disclosure of any aspect of the hearing, including witness evidence.
In most cases, we will publish the Fitness to Teach decision on our website. Your evidence may be included. Your name will be anonymised.
Measures can be put in place to assist vulnerable witnesses in giving evidence.
This includes video links, pre-recorded evidence (the witness must still be available for questioning at the hearing), use of interpreters and hearing the evidence in private.
Witnesses may be identified as vulnerable if:
- They are under the age of 18.
- The quality of their evidence is likely to be diminished because:
- They have a mental disorder,
- They have a significant impairment of intelligence and/or social functioning,
- They are the alleged victim of behaviour of a sexual and/or violent nature,
- They are suffering from fear or distress in connection with giving evidence.
Our Fitness to Teach Threshold Policy sets out what we investigate.
We have practice statements to help guide best practice at hearings and ensure efficient, rational and consistent practice. Read practice statements here.
Speak to us if you don’t understand anything in these documents. We are happy to explain.
We welcome feedback on your experience as a witness.
You can feedback directly to the Regulation Officer involved in the case, or submit comments using our Contact Form.
Panels make decisions about a teacher or college lecturer’s fitness to teach. They are independent of GTC Scotland. They are there to make sure that the Fitness to Teach process is fair, transparent and proportionate.
There are three Fitness to Teach Panel members: two teachers and one layperson.
One member of the Panel will act as the Convener. The Convener explains the process to hearing attendees and makes sure they are listened to and supported.
The Panel uses a suite of Practice Statements to provide a framework for their findings.
The Legal Assessor is an independent solicitor or advocate who advises the Fitness to Teach Panel on legal matters.
The Servicing Officer is a member of GTC Scotland staff. They advise the Fitness to Teach Panel on procedural matters.
The Presenting Officer is a solicitor or advocate who shares the evidence and information gathered during GTC Scotland’s investigation.
The teacher or college lecturer and their representative
The teacher or college lecturer facing the allegations may be in attendance. They may choose to represent themselves or appoint a representative. Representatives are usually either solicitors or representatives of a professional body.
Witnesses can be called to attend by us, by the teacher or college lecturer, or their representative. If the hearing is held in public, they can choose to stay in the room after giving evidence.
Members of the Public and Press
Most of our hearings are held in public. Members of the public and press can attend.