Full Hearing – Keith Gilmour
|Teacher||Keith Gilmour (present / representation )|
|Date||Monday 7, Tuesday 8, Wednesday 9 and Thursday 10 August 2023|
|Registration Category||Secondary Education: Religious Education|
|Panel||Pauline McClellan (Convener), Michele Knight and Marie Lyon|
|Legal Assessor||Graeme Henderson|
|Servicing Officer||Aga Adamczyk|
|Presenting Officer||Gary Burton, Anderson Strathern|
|Teacher’s Representative||Michael Briggs, Westwater Advocates|
Christie Wishart, Thompson Solicitors (not present)
Any reference in this decision to:
- ‘GTCS’ means the General Teaching Council for Scotland;
- the ‘Panel’ means the Fitness to Teach Panel considering the case;
- the ‘Rules’ (and any related expression) means the GTCS Fitness to Teach Rules 2017 or refers to a provision (or provisions) within them; and
- the ‘Register’ means the GTCS register of teachers.
Vulnerable Witness Measures
At the start of the hearing, the Presenting Officer made an application, in private, for Witness 1 (Pupil A) to be treated as a vulnerable witness. He indicated that this application had already been intimated, by email, to the Teacher’s Solicitors the day before. As Witness 1 was over the age of 18 the only order sought was to require the Teacher to have his camera turned off during the course of Witness 1 giving evidence. He submitted that there would be no prejudice to the Teacher as he would be able to see Witness 1 and comment on his evidence.
The Teacher’s Representative did not oppose this application but reminded the Panel that the matter was for it to determine in exercising its discretion.
The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who referred to Rule 1.7.29 (b)(iii) and (iv) of the Rules. If the Panel considered that Witness 1 was ‘an alleged victim’ or that Witness 1 has concerns of ‘fear and distress in connection with giving evidence’ either or both of these could trigger a finding that Witness 1 was a vulnerable witness. Rule 1.7.30 envisaged a number of measures to protect vulnerable witnesses but the list of orders set out in the rule was non-exhaustive.
The Panel retired to consider this issue. It had regard to an email which had been sent by Witness 1 the day before the hearing commenced and found this particular passage persuasive :
‘…in my experience, [the Teacher] tends to show highly exaggerated visible reactions to things said about him, which can be intimidating..’
The Panel considered Witness 1 should be classified as a vulnerable witness. The allegations indicated that he was the recipient of an insulting racist remark. In addition, he has expressed fear and distress in giving evidence. The Panel also considered that it was fair and proportionate for the Teacher’s camera to be turned off during the course of Witness 1 giving evidence.
The Panel noted that although Rule 1.7.3 had a default setting for the identity of vulnerable witnesses remaining private this was ‘..unless the Panel determines otherwise..’. The Panel considered the submissions made on behalf of the Presenting Officer and was satisfied that as Witness 1 was over the age of 18 there was no need to invoke further privacy measures set out in Rule 1.7.3.
Waiver of Directions
This Panel was in receipt of a determination from a previous Panel that met on 24 November 2022. It determined an application for the teacher to be treated as a vulnerable witness in terms of Rule 1.7.29. The view of that Panel was that the Teacher should be treated as a vulnerable witness and accordingly that he should be permitted to give his evidence in chief by way of a written statement.
The Panel was notified, before the hearing commenced, that the Teacher now sought to depart from that direction.
The Convenor suggested that it would be an appropriate moment to raise the issue of whether or not the Teacher intended to give oral evidence or submit a written statement after the closing of the Presenting Officer’s case. The parties were in agreement. Following the conclusion of the Presenting Officer’s case, the Panel heard submissions from the parties on the matter.
The Teacher’s Representative informed the Panel that the Teacher wished to provide his evidence in chief live and not through a written statement. He invited the Panel to waive or vary the directions issued by the previous Panel in terms of Rule 1.11.1(a). The Presenting Officer had no opposition to the application.
The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who referred to Rule 1.11.1 (a).
The Panel retired to deliberate. The Panel considered that the application to waive the direction that the Teacher should supply his evidence in chief by a written statement should be granted.
The decision of whether to give evidence and how it should be presented was a matter for the Teacher who was in receipt of professional advice. It was for him to consider how best to present his evidence. The Panel did not consider that it would be appropriate to insist on a written statement being produced if the Teacher no longer considered it to be the appropriate means of communicating his point of view to the Panel.
Privacy on Health Issues
Prior to the Teacher giving evidence, the Convenor raised the issue of whether any matters relating to the Teacher’s health were likely to be discussed. She indicated that the Panel was mindful to grant any application in relation to the case going into private if private matters were to be discussed.
The Teacher’s Representative indicated that he considered that this would be appropriate as did the Presenting Officer.
The Panel heard and accepted the Legal Assessor who referred to Rules 1.7.3 and 1.7.30.
The Panel determined that although the hearing was to continue to be conducted in public any private matter should be moved to private session.
The following allegations were considered at the hearing:
- In or around April 2016, whilst employed by East Dunbartonshire Council as a teacher at, Boclair Academy, the Teacher did make a racially offensive comment to Pupil A in that he did call Pupil A a “P***”;
- In or around April 2016, whilst employed by East Dunbartonshire Council as a teacher at Boclair Academy, the Teacher did reprimand Pupil A in an aggressive and intimidating manner, causing him fear and distress;
- In or around August 2016, whilst employed by East Dunbartonshire Council as a teacher at Boclair Academy, the Teacher did participate in videos together with an 11 year old child during which he did:
- share confidential information about his employment status with the child;
- allow himself to be filmed within the child’s bedroom;
- permit the video to be uploaded to social media; and
- copy a link to one of the videos to his Facebook page in the knowledge that his Facebook page was available to public views;
- In or around November 2016, whilst employed by East Dunbartonshire Council, as a teacher at Boclair Academy, the Teacher did:
- share confidential information about his employment status with East Dunbartonshire Council with a member of the public;
- share confidential information about a pupil and parent with the member of the public;
- During 2016, whilst employed by East Dunbartonshire Council as a teacher at Boclair Academy, the Teacher did post comments on his Facebook page in the knowledge that said page was open to public viewing, including:
- “Heaven forfend we should kill people who ‘know exactly what is going on’ but op to say/do nothing about it, thereby allowing the terrorist atrocities to be carried out!”
- “Who cares that Isis don’t view their victims as innocent! And yes, we should bomb the shit out of them! Targeting Isis relatives who know exactly what is going on but opt to say/do nothing about it.”
- “My letter in today’s Scottish Sun: it is hideous that volunteers can die in clinical trials of medication. In jail we have people who have raped and tortured children. How about testing drugs on them?”
- “I don’t want people imprisoned, shot, blown up, etc, but there are exceptions to that. I’m just applying the same logic on this. My point is simply that if people are going to be imperilled for the greater good then I’d rather imperil “people who have raped and tortured children” instead of people of goodwill.”
- 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, 1.6 and 2.1 of the General Teaching Council for Scotland Code of Professionalism and Conduct 2012.
Following the reading of the allegations, the Teacher’s Representative informed the Panel that the Teacher admitted allegations 3(b), 3(c), 3(d), 5(a), 5(b), 5(c), and 5(d). He denied the remaining allegations and denied that he was unfit to teach or that he was impaired.
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:
Servicing Officer Papers
- Notice of Full Hearing, dated 17 May 2023 with cover email and delivery receipt
- Email communication with the parties regarding full hearing dates
- Fitness to Teach Case Management Log, including
- Case Management Directions, dated 7 February 2022
- Case Management Directions, dated 2 June 2022
- Case Management Directions, dated 13 February 2023
- Procedural Meeting decision annex, dated 22 November 2022.
Presenting Officer’s Papers
- Presenting Officer’s Case Form
- Witness statement of Witness 1
- Witness statement of Witness 2
- Witness statement of Witness 3
- Witness statement of Witness 4
- GTC Scotland complaints form completed by Witness 2, dated 12 September 2016
- Investigation report and appendices by Colleague 1, Depute Headteacher, dated 18 May 2016
- Fact Finding Report by Colleague 2, Quality Improvement Officer, dated 26 August 2016
- YouTube videos – Fitness to Teach Extranet – Keith Gilmour – All Documents (sharepoint.com)
- Fact Finding Report by Witness 3 and appendices dated 18 November 2016
- Letter from Witness 4 to the Teacher dated 17 February 2017
- Letter from Police Scotland dated 22 October 2018
- Response to the Interim Report by the Teacher and accompanying documents, including:
- Official documents
- Witness evidence
- East Dunbartonshire Council appeal submission & appendixes
- Initial response to GTCS Investigation Report
- Unsent 2017 response to East Dunbartonshire Council’s Submission to GTCS
- Teacher’s health information.
- Teacher’s Case Form, dated 19 May 2022.
Summary of Evidence
The Panel heard oral evidence from the following witnesses
Witness 1 (Pupil A), Witness 2 who was Father of Witness 1, Witness 3 (Quality Improvement Officer at the material times), Witness 4 (Chief Education Officer at the material times), and the Teacher.
Witness 1 was the main witness to allegations 1 and 2. His position was that the Teacher said the words, set out in allegation 1, to him during the course of him taking lunch in the Teacher’s classroom. Sometime later, he was approached by the Teacher who shouted at him in the manner set out in allegation 2.
Witness 2 was not a direct witness but spoke to his son informing him about the events alleged in allegations 1 and 2.
Witness 3 was involved in investigating allegations 1 and 2 but then became involved in investigating the remaining allegations.
Witness 4 was involved in considering all of the allegations and chaired a disciplinary hearing against the teacher relating to allegations 3 to 5.
The Teacher spoke to the reasons why he denied the allegations that he did not admit. At the time of the allegations, the Teacher taught RMPS at Boclair Academy. Part of his teaching involved reference to taboo words and what words were unacceptable. He made it clear to all of his pupils that the word ‘P***’ was taboo. He also taught the pupils about extremist views and regularly presented news cuttings showing extreme views expressed in action.
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.
The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who referred to a number of cases including Dutta v General Medical Council  EWHC 1974 (Admin)
Dutta provided confirmation that a sea change had occurred in the way that Civil Courts and Professional Regulatory Tribunals should approach witness evidence. At one time witness evidence, especially during cross examination, was regarded as the gold standard. However, the modern approach was to no longer treat it as the be all and end all of ascertaining proof. In a case where events occurred some time ago, it had to be borne in mind that memories are fluid and malleable. Considerable interference with memory was introduced in litigation by the procedure in preparing for a hearing. Statements are taken a long time after the event and drafted by a lawyer who is conscious of the issues in the case of what the witness does and does not say. The best approach of any decision maker was to base factual findings on documentary evidence and known probable facts before considering live evidence.
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 aware that the issues involved in this hearing had been discussed several times within the context of disciplinary hearings, a Sheriff Court Criminal Trial and an application to the Employment Tribunal. It was not influenced by the outcome, if known of any of these matters or the fact that there had been several other prior hearings. The Panel also noted that there was commentary on the credibility and reliability of witnesses in the documentation. For example, a Deputy Head was instructed to take witness statements but also commented on them. The Panel concentrated only on the evidence before it and not on commentary.
Matters Found Proved by way of Admission
Since the Teacher admitted allegations 3(b), 3(c), 3(d), 5(a), 5(b), 5(c), and 5(d) by way of admission, and the hearing was conducted on that basis, the Panel found these allegations proved in line with Rule 1.7.21
1 In or around April 2016, whilst employed by East Dunbartonshire Council as a teacher at, Boclair Academy, the Teacher did make a racially offensive comment to Pupil A in that he did call Pupil A a “P***”;
The Panel noted that despite the passage of time there was very little dispute about the events surrounding this allegation. In April 2016, the Teacher was a teacher at Boclair Academy and Witness 1 was an S3 pupil. The Teacher ran a lunch club and he, himself, ate his lunch there. Pupils ate their lunch there due to the school cafeteria being overcrowded. A number of pupils were also attracted there by the fact that the Teacher also ran chess and debating clubs during lunch. It was an opportunity for the pupils to meet friends and interact with the teacher. The Teacher regularly interacted with Witness 1 prior to the day that events in allegation 1 took place.
On one day in April 2016, there were a number of pupils having lunch when the Teacher was approached by Witness 1. Witness 1 complained to the Teacher that a particular pupil (DO) had been making racist comments – particularly using the word ‘P***.’ Witness 1 had approached the Teacher and was speaking to him a desk length (2 metres) away. Witness 1 used the word ‘P***’ on more than one occasion when complaining to the Teacher.
The Teacher told Witness 1 that he did not hear DO saying that word. The Panel accepted this explanation. The Panel had regard to a brief witness statement taken from DO on 3 May 2016. DO said the Teacher approached him at the start of the next period and asked him if he had used the word. DO admitted that he had and was told not to use it again.
It was Witness 1’s position, when interviewed on 3 May 2016, that having complained about the word ‘P***’ being used the Teacher replied saying, ‘Don’t accuse [DO] of saying P*** because you are one and you wouldn’t understand.’
The Teacher’s position, in an email dated 3 May 2016, was that whilst he did not hear DO using that word, he told Witness 1 not to use that word and that he would speak to DO. Witness 1 then accused him of making a racist comment. Witness 1 was told to leave the classroom by the Teacher. It is not in dispute that Witness 1 was upset at the time.
The only live evidence in support of this allegation came from Witness 1. The allegation was investigated by a Depute Headteacher, Colleague 1, but she was not called as a witness. The Panel took into account the fact that Witness 1 made no formal complaint to anyone until well after the alleged incident. This meant that attempting to take evidence of the conversation was unlikely to result in an accurate record being obtained.
The Panel had sight of a number of documents that Colleague 1 produced as part of the Local Authority’s investigation outlining what she was told by various pupils who witnessed the dispute. Those witness statements were not in the form of questions and answers. They did not appear to be anything more than a summary of what was said by each pupil to Colleague 1. The conversation between Witness 1 and the Teacher appeared to consist of a series of short remarks exchanged between the two of them. The Panel considered that it was essential for some record to have been made of what, it is claimed, was said by either party. It was inherently unlikely that a teacher, especially an RMPS Teacher, would make a racist comment directed towards a pupil, and in a classroom with a number of pupils present. Whilst the Teacher accepted that it was possible but not likely that he used the offending word that would have been because Witness 1 insisted on using it. The Allegation could not be proved if the Teacher had said “don’t use the word P*** again” or words to that effect.
Of the six pupils who were present in the classroom, including Witness 1, interviewed by Colleague 1, three of them mentioned the involvement of another pupil, RW, in the dispute. Despite this RW, was not interviewed.
Pupil DO appeared to have heard the conversation but did not suggest that the Teacher used the word.
Pupil EG did not hear the word used but mentioned the fact that there were rumours, circulating in the school, that he did.
Pupil HK said that she had heard the Teacher use the word ‘P***’ but not the context as set out in the allegations. It could have been commensurate with Witness 1 being told not to use that word.
Pupil CW was present during part of the dispute but provided no evidence of what was said.
Pupil KF said that the incident occurred when Witness 1 was having a conversation with the Teacher ‘as they were about to leave the room’. This description of the context is in contrast to Witness 1’s version of events. There was no suggestion that Witness 1 or the Teacher were about to leave the room. It is then said that, in this context, she overheard the Teacher say to Witness 1 ‘you wouldn’t understand because you are a P***.’
The Panel decided to treat the hearsay evidence of Pupil KF with great caution. It rejected it on the basis that the evidence did not accord with the agreed contextual facts. Her evidence contradicted both Witness 1 and the Teacher. It was provided at a time when rumours were circulating around the school about what may have been said to Witness 1. The Panel did not have an opportunity to hear live evidence from this witness and hear her evidence being tested in cross examination.
The Panel considered that the Teacher’s version of events was more likely. It was inherently improbable that he would have said the word attributed to him against Witness 1. The Panel did not form the impression that Witness 1 was lying. The Panel formed the impression that Witness 1 was upset at the fact that the Teacher had not dealt with his complaint about the behaviour of Pupil DO in the manner that he had expected. It was highly likely that what had been said by the Teacher involved Witness 1 misconstruing one remark in the course of an exchange that had become heated. The Teacher explained that he could not rebuke DO until he had discussed it with the pupil.
Accordingly, the Panel found allegation 1 not proved.
2 In or around April 2016, whilst employed by East Dunbartonshire Council as a teacher at Boclair Academy, the Teacher did reprimand Pupil A in an aggressive and intimidating manner, causing him fear and distress;
It is not in dispute that Witness 1 was upset as a result of events set out in allegation 1. He ceased attending the Lunch Club and went to sit in a different teacher’s classroom at lunchtime. It was the Teacher’s position that Witness 1 was barred from the club that the Teacher hosted as a result of not apologising for accusing the Teacher of using a word he had not used.
Witness 1 told the Modern Studies teacher that he had been called a ‘P*** by the Teacher. However, he said that he did not wish to make a formal complaint. There is no suggestion that the Teacher ever explained the outcome of his discussion with DO to Witness 1. Rumours had begun circulating around the school about the allegation. Witness 1 still bore a grudge but did nothing about it.
The Teacher accepted that, after he began to hear of rumours circulating that Witness 1 had continued to repeat the allegations set out in allegation 1, he went to approach Witness 1 and ‘read him the riot act’. The Teacher went to the classroom of a different teacher where Witness 1 was having his lunch. Witness 1 was asked to leave the classroom by the Teacher, and the conversation took place in the corridor.
It is not in dispute that the Teacher issued Witness 1 with a reprimand and that he was shouting. It was also not in dispute what the nature of the reprimand was: Witness 1 was told to either stop repeating the allegation or else visit the Headteacher and make a formal complaint.
The Panel considered the evidence of Witness 1, in his written GTC Scotland statement and his live evidence, to be exaggerated. It did not form the impression that he was deliberately misleading the Panel. The Panel was of the view that, through the passage of time, his memory recreated a more dramatic version of events which he believed to be true.
Witness 1 said in his GTCS statement and his oral evidence that this incident started when the Teacher ‘kicked open the door of the room that I was in’. If that were the case, there might reasonably have been supporting evidence from eyewitnesses. Further to this, Witness 1 did not mention this during the Local Authority investigation.
Witness 1 then said that the incident, that took place, lasted for 5 to 10 minutes. This is contradicted by the evidence of a teacher (RA) who heard some shouting. When he went to see what was happening he could see nothing. If Witness 1 had been involved in an incident which lasted that long there would have been a crowd of witnesses attending.
The Panel was satisfied that the Teacher issued Witness 1 with a reprimand and that it was highly likely that this confrontation led to Witness 1 being afraid and distressed. This led Witness 1 to tell his father which resulted in his father arranging a meeting with the Headtacher. Witness 1 would have been aware, having received the warning, that this would result in him having to make an official complaint to the authorities. Witness 1 frankly told the Panel that there were other issues going on in his personal life that made him feel vulnerable. It is likely that he did not wish to escalate matters because he did not wish to face the stress of making a formal complaint.
The Panel did not consider the actions of the Teacher to be aggressive and intimidating. The Panel did not consider that giving Witness 1 a short reprimand could be classified as aggressive and intimidating behaviour. In the context of a school, a teacher is sometimes required to provide a pupil with a clear message no matter how upsetting that message may be.
Accordingly, allegation 2 is not proved.
3 In or around August 2016, whilst employed by East Dunbartonshire Council as a teacher at Boclair Academy, the Teacher did participate in videos together with an 11 year old child during which he did:
(a) share confidential information about his employment status with the child;
It is admitted that the Teacher participated in the making of videos with an 11 year old child. The Teacher was a member of a badminton club and got to know the child and his family who also attended the sports centre. He became a friend of the family and frequently visited their home.
The video caused concern to his employers because it was available on Facebook to anyone. There had been a complaint by one parent. The Teacher was under temporary suspension at the time the video was shot which gave rise to concerns amongst his employers. However, the temporary suspension was not mentioned in the video.
At the start of one of the videos, the boy asked the Teacher his name and his age. The Teacher was asked what his job was and he told the boy that he was a teacher. The boy then asked, ‘How long will you be sacked in?’
The response from the Teacher was, ‘6 months tops.’
The Panel had careful regard to the wording of the allegation. The allegation was that the Teacher shared confidential information about his employment status. The fact that he was a teacher was public knowledge.
Accordingly, the Panel found allegation 3(a) not proved.
4 In or around November 2016, whilst employed by East Dunbartonshire Council, as a teacher at Boclair Academy, the Teacher did:
(a) share confidential information about his employment status with East Dunbartonshire Council with a member of the public;
In a response submitted to GTC Scotland, the Teacher accepted that he shared information about his employment status with the guardian of the 11-year-old boy. The issue, which was raised in the cross examination of Witness 4 was whether or not this information was confidential. GTC Scotland provided no written guidance that set the boundaries between what information was considered to be confidential and what was not.
The issue raised in cross examination was whether, if confidentiality attached to a teacher’s suspension, it was for the benefit of the employer or the teacher.
The Panel did not consider that this information was confidential. In the context of a school, it was highly likely that everyone would be aware of the reason a teacher was absent. It was accepted by Witness 4 that the Teacher was entitled to share information with close friends and family that did not involve a breach of confidentiality. In any event, the Panel was persuaded that, if this information was confidential at all, it was to protect the reputation of the Teacher. It was open for the Teacher to waive confidentiality by informing whom he wished.
Accordingly, the Panel found allegation 4(a) not proved.
(b) share confidential information about a pupil and parent with the member of the public;
This allegation arose out of the fact that the guardian of the 11 year old boy wrote an email to the Council complaining about the fact that the boy had become the subject of an investigation as a result of the two videos, referred to in allegation 3 that had been posted. The email wrongly identified the party making the complaint, regarding the video, as a parent of a particular child. Neither parent nor child had been correctly identified.
The guardian did not provide evidence at this hearing.
The Panel considered that GTC Scotland could only succeed if it could satisfy the Panel that the guardian was in receipt of confidential information from the Teacher. The Panel did not consider that the email demonstrated that the guardian had been supplied with confidential information by the Teacher. If she had been supplied with confidential information regarding the parent who had complained, together with the child’s name, she would have provided the correct names.
Accordingly, the Panel found allegation 4(b) not proved.
Findings on Fitness to Teach
Given that the Panel found that some of the allegations were proved, the Panel invited the parties to lead evidence and make submissions in relation to the Teacher’s fitness to teach. No new evidence was presented.
The Panel gave careful consideration to all of the evidence previously 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 GTCS Indicative Outcomes Guidance.
The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who invited the Panel to have regard to the fact that the GTCS Indicative Outcomes Guidance had to be qualified in light of the case of AD v GTCS 2019 SC 463.
The Panel was aware that there was no burden or standard of proof. It required to exercise its professional judgement.
The Panel began by considering the following issue:
(a) Did the Teacher’s conduct at the time of the incidents fall short of the expected professional standards?
The Panel noted that they were only asked by the Presenting Officer, in his submissions at this stage, to consider whether there had been departures from the following standards:
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;
1.3 you should avoid situations both within and outwith the professional context which could be in breach of the criminal law, or may call into question your fitness to teach;
1.6 you should maintain an awareness that as a teacher you are a role model to pupils.
The Panel went on to consider whether these standards were engaged in respect of any of the following facts that had been found proved:
3 In or around August 2016, whilst employed by East Dunbartonshire Council as a teacher at Boclair Academy, the Teacher did participate in videos together with an 11 year old child during which he did:
(b) allow himself to be filmed within the child’s bedroom;
(c) permit the video to be uploaded to social media; and
(d) copy a link to one of the videos to his Facebook page in the knowledge that his Facebook page was available to public views;
The Panel considered whether or not any of the standards had been breached in respect of Allegations 3 (b) – (d).
The Panel considered that Standard 1.2 could only apply to a friendship that developed between a pupil and his teacher. The Teacher had formed a close relationship with a family and this resulted in a friendship developing between him and the child. It was not as a result of his being the teacher of that child.
The Panel also considered that Standard 1.3 was not engaged. Whilst the Teacher admitted that one of the videos was shot in the child’s bedroom it was not obvious, from the video, that this room was the child’s bedroom. It could easily have been seen by the ordinary viewer as a spare room. The video was shot with both the boy and the Teacher sitting, facing the camera, on two separate dining room chairs. They were seen talking and passing an iPad to each other whilst playing an electronic version of charades. This was the room where the child conducted his video editing. The bed was hardly visible in the background. He was there with the consent of the child’s guardian who was in the house. The Panel did not consider that the fact that the material had been uploaded to social media and had been posted on his Facebook page engaged this standard. The Panel accepted the evidence of the Teacher that the 11 year old boy was keen to post the material on social media in order to attract ‘likes’. The Teacher agreed to post a video on his Facebook page because the boy was disappointed with the amount of likes received.
The Panel considered that Standard 1.6 was not engaged. If anything the video demonstrated his skill as a teacher with his ease in participating in a game initiated by the boy. This demonstrated that he had the ability to interact with children and to play with them on terms initiated by them.
5 During 2016, whilst employed by East Dunbartonshire Council as a teacher at Boclair Academy, the Teacher did post comments on his Facebook page in the knowledge that said page was open to public viewing, including:
(a) “Heaven forfend we should kill people who ‘know exactly what is going on’ but op to say/do nothing about it, thereby allowing the terrorist atrocities to be carried out!”
(b) “Who cares that Isis don’t view their victims as innocent! And yes, we should bomb the shit out of them! Targeting Isis relatives who know exactly what is going on but opt to say/do nothing about it.”
(c) “My letter in today’s Scottish Sun: it is hideous that volunteers can die in clinical trials of medication. In jail we have people who have raped and tortured children. How about testing drugs on them?”
(d) “I don’t want people imprisoned, shot, blown up, etc, but there are exceptions to that. I’m just applying the same logic on this. My point is simply that if people are going to be imperilled for the greater good then I’d rather imperil “people who have raped and tortured children” instead of people of goodwill.”
Whilst the Teacher admitted posting all of the material set out in the allegations, the Teacher denied breaching any of the standards set out above.
The Panel considered that these allegations could not involve Standard 1.2 as it did not involve any interaction with a pupil.
The Panel accepted the evidence of the Teacher that as part of his teaching process he would expose his pupils to a wide range of extreme views. At the time in question, Donald Trump was on the rise. It was the Teacher’s position that 5a was a direct quote from Donald Trump. The Panel also noted that although 5c reference to a letter that he had published in the Sun Newspaper was thought to be a regulatory concern he was not charged with publishing the letter itself.
The Panel was not satisfied that it had been presented with sufficient material to form a confident conclusion that any of the standards were engaged.
The Panel was reluctant to form a view on what was said by the Teacher on the basis of excerpts taken from his Facebook page. Without evidence of the full context in which these statements were made, the Panel had no means of being able to assess whether or not what was said breached the remaining standards. For example, the Panel was not aware if the remarks involved replying to a question or were excerpts from a further article.
This allegation arose out of the fact that the Depute Head who investigated Allegations 1 and 2 had noticed these comments on the Teacher’s Facebook page. She was not called as a witness and GTCS produced no compelling evidence to persuade the Panel that the Teacher was in breach of Standards 1.3 and 1.6.
The Panel considered that, in general terms, a teacher, along with every other member of society is entitled to express himself or herself in any manner that they see fit in accordance with Article 10. This involves the right of teachers to join political parties and trade unions, stand for elections and become councillors.
The Panel noted that there did not seem to be any complaint by any member of the public with regard to this material. This material was of concern to his employer because the postings were made at the time that he was under investigation. Although Witness 3 discussed him confronting the Teacher regarding this issue it was on the basis that he had taken a witness statement from the Depute Head who complained about their content.
In all the circumstances the Panel was not persuaded that Standards 1.3 and 1.6 were breached.
Accordingly, for the reasons set out above, the Panel determined that the Teacher’s conduct did not at the time and does not currently fall short of the standards expected of a registered teacher and that his fitness to teach is not therefore impaired.