Panel Consideration Outcome – Ellen Bogie
|Teacher||Ellen Bogie (not present)|
|Date||30 August 2023|
|Registration Category||Secondary – Music|
|Panel||Catriona McDonald, Joanne Sharp and Ruth Sharp|
|Legal Assessor||Fiona Drysdale|
|Servicing Officer||Jennifer Fairweather|
|Teacher’s Representative||Chris Dunn, Clyde & Co (not present)|
Any reference in this outcome 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 ‘Register’ means the GTC Scotland Register of teachers; and
- ‘COPAC’ means the GTC Scotland Code of Professionalism and Conduct.
Notification of Meeting
The Panel had before it a copy of the Notice of Panel Consideration, dated 26 June 2023. The Panel was satisfied that the Teacher had been provided with notice of the meeting in accordance with Rules 1.6 and 2.3.1. Accordingly, the Panel proceeded to consider the case.
There were no preliminary matters raised.
- Between 13 December and 29 December 2018, whilst employed by Fife Council as a Principal Teacher at Woodmill High School, and in the course of her employment, the Teacher did:
(a) fail to follow child protection procedures when Pupil A, a vulnerable former pupil, disclosed to the Teacher that there had been sexual contact between herself and Colleague A whilst Pupil A was a pupil at the school, thereby potentially placing other children at risk of harm; and
(b) on 14 December 2018 instead report Pupil A’s disclosure, as outlined at 1(a) above, directly to Colleague A.
- On a date unknown, between 2015 and 2018 the Teacher, having previously provided Pupil A, a vulnerable pupil, with her personal mobile phone number:
(a) drove to Dunfermline to collect Pupil A after receiving a distressed phone call from her; and
(b) in 2017 or 2018 subsequently failed to block Pupil A’s phone number when requested to do so.
- On 13 December 2018, whilst employed by Fife Council as a Principal Teacher at Woodmill High School, and in the course of her employment, the Teacher did state in a text message to Pupil A, a vulnerable former pupil, ‘I love you too x’.
- The Teacher’s actions at allegations 1(a), (b) and 2(b) above lacked integrity.
And in light of the above it is alleged that the Teacher’s fitness to teach is impaired and she is unfit to teach as a result of breaching Parts 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.6, 2.3 and 2.4 of the General Teaching Council for Scotland’s Code of Professionalism and Conduct 2012.
Information Available to the Panel
Final Investigation Report, dated 16 June 2023 with appendices: #
- Local Authority Report and appendices:
- Appendix 1 – Role profile Principal Teacher
- Appendix 2 – Fact-finding meeting between Witness 1 and the Teacher, dated 7 December 2021
- Appendix 3 – Witness Statement – Teacher – dated 21 December 2021
- Appendix 4 – Witness Statement – Teacher – dated 19 January 2022
- Appendix 5 – Witness Statement – Teacher – dated 7 March 2022
- Appendix 6 – Supplementary information from the Teacher, dated 21 March 2022
- Appendix 7 – Witness Statement – Witness 1 – dated 14 January 2022
- Appendix 8 – Witness Statement – Witness 2 – dated 21 January 2022
- Appendix 9 – Witness Statement – Witness 2 – dated 4 March 2022
- Appendix 10 – Supplementary Notes for Witness 2 interview, dated 21 March 2022
- Appendix 11 – Witness Statement – Witness 3 – dated 4 March 2022
- Appendix 12 – Care and Welfare Record and Email Chain
- Appendix 13 – Care and Welfare Case Notes – Pupil A
- Appendix 14 – EVOLVE Notes
- Appendix 15 – Parental Complaints
- Appendix 16 – Notice of Disciplinary Interview – Teacher
- Appendix 17 – 19 – Notice to Witness of Disciplinary Investigation
- Appendix 20 – Supplementary information from Witness 5 – Business Manager in 2018/19
- Appendix 21 – Newspaper article referencing case (BBC), dated 3 December 2021
- Appendix 22 – Child Protection INSERVICE, August 2018
- Appendix 23 – CP National Guidelines 2020 referencing historic allegations
- Disciplinary Hearing Minutes, dated 22 June 2022
- Police Scotland Joint Cybercrime Report, dated 16 July 2021
- Teacher’s Response to Notification of Investigation, dated 1 April 2022
- Letter from Pupil A to Witness 1
- GTC Witness Statement – Witness 1, dated 18 August 2022
- GTC Scotland Witness Statement – Witness 2, dated 28 August 2022
- GTC Scotland Witness Statement – Witness 3, dated 24 August 2022
- GTC Scotland Witness Statement – Witness 4, dated 10 September 2022
- GTC Scotland Witness Statement – Witness 5, dated 18 October 2022
- GTC Scotland Witness Statement – Witness 6, dated 14 October 2022
- GTC Scotland Witness Statement – Witness 2, dated 9 March 2023
- GTC Scotland Supplementary Witness Statement – Witness 3, dated 19 May 2023
- Response to Interim Report, dated 11 May 2023
- Teacher’s Reflective Note, dated May 2023
- Testimonial 1
- Testimonial 2
- Testimonial 3
- Testimonial 4
- Testimonial 5
- Testimonial 6
- Testimonial 7
- Testimonial 8
- Testimonial 9
- Testimonial 10
- Testimonial 11
In response to the notice, the Teacher did not provide any additional information for consideration by the Panel.
- Description of the Teacher’s position in response to the allegations
The Teacher responded to the Notification of Investigation by letter dated 1 April 2022 stating that the allegations were unspecific to the extent that it was not possible for her to respond and asking what the underlying evidential basis was for the concerns. She requested the underlying evidence to understand the concerns. The Teacher submitted a response dated 11 May 2023 to the interim report in which she stated that she admitted the allegations while providing an explanation of mitigating circumstances.
- Description of the Teacher’s position in relation to current fitness to teach
In her response dated 11 May 2023 to the interim report the Teacher accepted that her fitness to teach is currently impaired in the public interest.
- Description of the Teacher’s position in relation to the appropriate outcome
In her response dated 11 May 2023 to the Interim Report the Teacher indicated that she would accept a Consent Order to removal from the Register. She is not currently working as a teacher though remains hopeful that she may be able to return to the profession someday. She accepts the seriousness of her failings. She submits that given her candid admissions it would not be proportionate to refer the case to a full hearing.
Summary of Evidence and Submissions
The Teacher has admitted the allegations in full.
The Teacher states that prior to the allegations which are the subject of the present case she was never subject to any disciplinary proceedings or parental complaint. In February 2022 the Teacher was suspended by the local authority when it conducted a disciplinary investigation. In June 2022 she received a final written warning from the local authority. She was demoted from her role as a Principal Teacher and moved to a new school where she started at the beginning of the academic year 2022/23. The Teacher resigned from this position in September 2022 and is now employed outside teaching. The Teacher knew that Pupil A was a vulnerable child and the Teacher had occasional contact with her when she was at university. Other than the events in this case, the Teacher was not aware of any concerns regarding Colleague A’s conduct as a teacher at the school. When he started teaching at the school, she asked for background information on him as she was aware that he had joined as a compulsory transfer, but she was informed that no information was available. The Teacher provided information on her own personal circumstances in a detailed reflection.
The Teacher characterised the allegations against her as vague and unspecific, submitting that there was no specific conduct said to have occurred or any specific omissions detailed.
The Teacher submits that she appropriately reported various concerns about Colleague A to her line manager and others. Reference is made to evidence from the Deputy Headteacher, Witness 2 and Witness 4 that she reported concerns to them. The Teacher states that she was not made aware of a Care and Welfare Case Note of 7 September 2015, or a concern raised by Pupil A’s mother about Colleague A. The Teacher submits that there is no evidence to support the suggestion that she failed to escalate concerns about Colleague A leaving the classroom and that the allegation should be dismissed. The Teacher further submits that she accepts the content of allegation 1 under explanation that this happened in December 2018.
The Teacher criticises allegation 2 for being unspecific as it fails to state what she should have done and when. The Teacher’s position is that she was only aware of the possibility of Pupil A having a crush on Colleague A after residential trips and that her evidence is the only available evidence on this point. As a result of her suspicion the Teacher stayed behind for band rehearsals and discussed this with the Principal Teacher of Enhanced Support. The Teacher accepts that she made mistakes when dealing with concerns raised by Pupil A in other respects. The Teacher accepts that on 13 December 2018 she received information from Pupil A which meant that she knew that there had been sexual contact between Pupil A and Colleague A while Pupil A was a pupil at the school and that other children were potentially at risk of harm from Colleague A. On 14 December 2018, she attempted to speak to the senior leadership team who were not available and spoke instead to the business manager and the Head of Department for Business Support. She was advised to report the matter to the police as it related to a former pupil, but she had already done so. The Teacher accepts that she should have made a report to the Child Protection Co-ordinator and regrets failing to do so. The Teacher submits that she later had a conversation with the Deputy Headteacher about the matter in which he agreed with the course of action which she had taken. The Teacher did not have access to historic text messages during the employer’s investigation and now accepts that she was aware that there was sexual contact between Pupil A and Colleague A. She had failed to recollect this at the previous investigation interviews when she did not have access to the text messages. At the time she was doing her best to cooperate with the investigation.
The Teacher does not recollect her conversations with Colleague A on 14 December 2018 but given the content of the text messages she accepts that she told Colleague A that Pupil A had made allegations about him. She accepts that it was inappropriate to do so. When she had other concerns about Pupil A, she reported these appropriately.
The Teacher submits that Pupil A had her telephone number because this was provided to pupils during school trips. She was not aware of school mobiles being in use. When Pupil A was a pupil, the Teacher reported her contact with her to the school and the school did not ask her to cease this contact with Pupil A. She accepts that teachers must maintain appropriate boundaries with pupils due to their unique position of trust and now realises that certain of her actions were a mistake. She recalls being asked to block Pupil A’s number and failing to ask for assistance to do so when she could not manage to do so herself. She accepts that she had not maintained a professional persona in text messages with Pupil A when she was a former pupil.
The Teacher questions the necessity of allegation 4 but accepts that she has shown a lack of professional integrity.
The Teacher submits that she has provided a personal reflection in which she displays insight and understanding, that she displays significant regret and has provided supportive testimonials including from colleagues.
Other evidence available consisted of witness statements from other teachers and staff at the school, documentation from the disciplinary investigation, a letter from Pupil A and a Cybercrime Report.
The Panel considered all the information available to it as described above. The Panel had a range of options open to it, as set out at Rule 2.3.2 (a) to (f). The Panel had regard to the factors set out in the GTC Scotland Panel Consideration Practice Statement and the Fitness to Teach Conduct Cases Indicative Outcomes Guidance Practice Statement.
The Panel did not consider it appropriate to dispose of the case in accordance with Rule 2.3.2 (a). The Panel reached this conclusion for the following reasons:
- The matter amounts to relevant conduct and there is on the face of it, a real prospect of a finding that the Teacher’s fitness to teach is impaired. The Panel considered the following factors relevant in that the conduct alleged relates to:
- Abuse of a teacher’s position of trust
- Forming inappropriate relationships with pupils/young people
The Panel considered the relevant Parts of COPAC to be:
Part 1 – Professionalism and maintaining trust in the profession
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;
1.4 you must uphold standards of personal and professional conduct, honesty and integrity so that the public have confidence in you as a teacher and teaching as a profession;
1.6 you should maintain an awareness that as a teacher you are a role model to pupils.
Part 2 – Professional responsibilities towards Pupils
2.3 you should aim to be a positive role model to pupils and motivate and inspire them to realise their full potential;
2.4 you must maintain an up-to-date knowledge and understanding of, implement, and comply with, child and protected adult procedures as they may currently apply in your workplace;
2.6 you must raise any concerns which you may have about the behaviour of any colleague in connection with a child or protected adult, using the appropriate procedures in place.
The Panel considered the following additional factors to be relevant in their decision:
- Some of the relevant allegations relate to events over 5 years of age but it is in the public interest for the matter to be considered. The Panel was of the view that it is in the public interest for the following reasons:
- The inappropriate behaviour in question was a pattern of behaviour which occurred over a considerable period of time;
- The protection of members of the public particularly since the pupil had left school when came to light;
- The maintenance of the public’s confidence in registrants and in the integrity of the teaching profession;
- The maintenance of the public’s confidence in GTCS as a professional regulator;
- The need to declare and uphold proper teaching standards;
- The deterrent effect that the determination may have upon other GTCS registrants.
- The matter has not already been considered.
- The matter is not frivolous or vexatious.
- The allegations have not been made anonymously or by a person who has failed to cooperate with the investigation.
The Panel did not consider it appropriate to dismiss the case on the basis of an insufficiency of evidence as provided for by Rule 2.3.2 (b). Whilst certain aspects of the allegations have been denied by the Teacher, there is evidence to support the allegations contained within the Investigation Report. Furthermore, the Panel did not consider the referral to be malicious.
The Panel considered that the conduct amounted to misconduct and fell short of the relevant standards. It took into account her whole career up until that point and her misjudgement on that one occasion and that Colleague A, who had been convicted of a criminal offence, had manipulated her. The Panel also considered the seriousness of the allegations and that she had breached the standards of COPAC.
The Panel considered that the conduct was serious but remediable. The Panel noted that the Teacher had appeared to engage well with the Fitness to Teach process, had provided sufficient information and supplementary information. She had no previous history of misconduct and the testimonials and witness statements indicated that she had been exemplary in her role up to this point. The Panel considered that there was no evidence of the steps taken to remediate being verified by someone other than the Teacher. The Panel noted that this went to the weight of the evidence provided as it was not independent. The child protection training which she had undergone was mandatory training which predated the events in question.
The Panel found that it is unlikely that there will be a reoccurrence as the Teacher is not currently teaching. She has carried out a detailed reflection with an honest view of her feelings about how she is haunted every day with what happened to Pupil A. She is now within a job out with teaching but that does not preclude the fact that she could move into another job. She states on several occasions how this has affected her and others, demonstrating a high level of remorse and insight into the effect of her actions, she has admitted all her actions and is aware of the impact of her actions on vulnerable Pupil A.
In all the circumstances, the Panel found that the shortfalls had been remedied and that reoccurrence was not likely. The Panel considered whether there was nevertheless an overriding public interest in making a finding that Fitness to Teach is impaired or that the Teacher is unfit to teach in the circumstances. The Panel considered that this was a serious breach, she had information from a vulnerable child on which she did not act, and that the child was subject to abuse. The Panel could not ascertain steps which she had taken to rebuild trust.
The Panel considered that the Teacher had potentially put other children at risk by not dealing promptly with the information disclosed to her. The Panel had regard to the public interest and that child protection was one of the most significant duties of the regulator. It had regard to the protection of members of the public (in particular, children and young people), both in terms of the teaching setting and beyond; the maintenance of the public’s confidence in registrants and in the integrity of the teaching profession and in GTC Scotland as a professional regulator, the need to declare and uphold proper teaching standards and the deterrent effect that the determination may have upon other GTC Scotland registrants.
In all the circumstances the Panel considered that the Teacher was unfit to teach and had fallen significantly short of the standards for registration.
As the Panel determined that the Teacher is unfit to teach, in accordance with the terms of Article 18(2)(b) of the Public Services Reform (General Teaching Council for Scotland) Order 2011, it could only direct that the Teacher be removed from the Register.
The Panel noted that the Teacher had stated that she would agree to removal.
The Panel had regard to the Teacher’s position and decided to issue a consent order in accordance with rule 2.7 offering the Teacher the opportunity to consent to removal from the Register. Should such consent be provided, the Panel considered 18 months an appropriate prohibition period before the Teacher be able to apply for re-registration. The terms of the consent order are set out in the separate “Consent Order” document. Should the Teacher fail to provide her consent to the order within 28 days from the date of the decision notice, the case is to be referred on for hearing proceedings.