Panel Meeting – Teacher E
|Teacher||Teacher E (not present)|
|Date||24 June 2022|
|Registration Category||Primary Education|
|Panel||Gillian Fagan, Catriona McDonald and Marie Lyon|
|Legal Assessor||Fiona Dysdale|
|Servicing Officer||Shumi Bailey|
|Presenting Officer||Martin Walker, Balfour + Manson|
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 20 May 2022. 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.
The Teacher’s Representative submitted that the identity of the third parties concerned in the criminal conviction should not be published. The Panel noted that this issue did not arise in the context of the current issues under consideration and the publication of this decision as anonymity of third parties would be maintained.
- On [redacted] at [redacted] Court, the Teacher was convicted of the following offences:
- On [redacted] at [redacted] you did record Partner A, c/o Police Service of Scotland, doing a private act with the intention of enabling yourself or another to look at the image of the said Partner A doing the act in that you did video record her whilst she was engaged in sexual activity; contrary to Section 9(1) and (4) of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009;
- On [redacted] at [redacted] you did disclose a video recording which showed or appeared to show Partner A, your partner, care of Police Services of Scotland in an intimate situation and which had not previously been disclosed to the public at large, or any of the public, by her or with her consent, in that you sent the said video recording to Partner B, also your partner, and in doing so you intended to cause her, or you were reckless as to whether she would be caused, fear, alarm or distress; contrary to Section 2(1) of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016.
The Teacher was subsequently sentenced on [redacted] with a Community Payback Order in the form of a supervision period of 3 years, and was placed on the Sex Offenders Register from XXXXXX.
In light of all of the above, it is alleged that the Teacher’s fitness to teach is impaired and the Teacher is unfit to teach in light of breaching parts 1.3, 1.4 and 1.6 of the GTC Scotland Code of Professionalism and Conduct 2012.
Information Available to the Panel
- Final Investigation Report, dated 20 April 2022/ updated 18 May 2022 [redacted], with appendices including:
- Notification of Investigation, dated 11 May 2020
- Email from the Teacher’s Representative, Sonia Kerr, dated 13 May 2020, including the Teacher’s response to the Notification of Investigation
- Extract of Conviction, dated 15 February 2022 [redacted]
- Email response from Teacher’s Representative to the Notice of Panel Consideration, dated 15 June 2022, with an appendix including:
- The Teacher’s statement, dated 15 June 2022
- Notice of Panel Consideration, dated 20 May 2022 [redacted]
In response to the notice, the Teacher provided the following additional information for consideration by the Panel:
- Email response from Teacher’s Representative to the Notice of Panel Consideration, dated 15 June 2022, with an appendix including: The Teacher’s statement, dated 15 June 2022
- The Teacher admits the allegations in full.
- The Teacher states their understanding that their actions and subsequent conviction are incompatible with being a teacher.
- The Teacher consents to removal from the Register.
Summary of Evidence and Submissions
The Panel was provided with the extract of the criminal conviction. It was recommended that this was misconduct, and that the Teacher should be removed from the Register.
The Panel considered Rule 1.7.18 (a) which states that where a teacher has been convicted of a criminal offence (and provided that such conviction is neither pending appeal nor been successfully appealed) an extract conviction, or copy of the certificate of conviction certified by a competent officer of the relevant court, will be conclusive proof of the conviction.
The Panel found the conviction to be proved.
The Panel considered all of 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.
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
- Sexual misconduct or indecency
- Other serious activities which cause harm and affect public confidence
The Panel considered the relevant Parts of COPAC to be:
- Part 1 – Professionalism and maintaining trust in the profession
The Panel considered the following additional factors to be relevant in its decision:
- The matter does not relate to events that occurred 5 years or more before the date of the most recent event and it is in the public interest for the matter to be considered.
- 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 based on an insufficiency of evidence as provided for by Rule 2.3.2 (b). The allegations have been admitted by the Teacher. Furthermore, the Panel did not consider the referral to be malicious. Other relevant factors considered by the Panel were as follows:
- The matter relates to allegations dating from 2019 and it is in the public interest for the matter to proceed further.
- The referral has not already been received and considered by GTC Scotland and is in the public interest to be investigated.
- The matter is not frivolous or malicious.
- The referral has been made by the Local Authority and it is not the case that the matter cannot be verified.
Fitness to Teach
The Panel carefully considered all the available information and had regard to Part A of the GTC Scotland Fitness to Teach Conduct Cases – Indicative Outcomes Guidance Practice Statement and COPAC in considering whether the Teacher’s fitness to teach is currently impaired.
Conduct at the time – The Panel considered what parts of COPAC had been breached and to what extent. The Panel considered the relevant parts of COPAC to be:
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.
The Panel considered that this was a serious breach of section 1.3 because it consisted of a criminal conviction following which the Teacher was placed on the Sex Offenders Register.
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.
The Panel considered that this was a serious breach of 1.4 given that there was a criminal conviction and that the Teacher has been placed on the Sex Offenders Register. The Panel recognised that the personal conduct of the Teacher had an impact on the confidence of the public on the teaching profession.
1.6 You should maintain an awareness that as a teacher you are a role model to pupils.
The Panel considered that this was a serious breach of 1.6 as the Teacher had a responsibility for being a role model both in their professional practice and in their personal life. The Panel noted that they had sent messages including various recordings outwith the classroom.
On the basis that the Teacher admitted the allegations and that there was an extract conviction, the Panel found the facts alleged proven.
The Panel considered whether the conduct is remediable, whether it has been (or could be) remedied by the Teacher and what is the risk of reoccurrence. The Panel found that the Teacher could not remediate this conduct in terms of their professional reputation and the public trust in GTC Scotland. The Panel considered the Teacher’s current circumstances or any other surrounding factors which make the risk of reoccurrence unlikely. The Teacher alleged that they were in a controlling relationship and referred to their mental state. The Panel considered that it did not know the full facts and circumstances at the time of the commission of the offence but that however much pressure the Teacher may have been under from a controlling partner it was not acceptable to act as they had done and that this was not a mitigating factor. The Panel noted that there was no previous history or pattern of behaviour. The Teacher has admitted the allegation in full at a late stage as they wished to await the outcome of the criminal trial first. There was no independent evidence of steps taken to remediate.
The Panel had regard to the public interest which it considered was significant given that the Teacher had been placed on the Sex Offenders Register and then because of that the Panel considered that the Teacher’s fitness to teach was brought into question. The Panel considered that the breaches were fundamentally incompatible with the Teacher being a registered Teacher. The Panel did not consider that there were any aggravating factors as far as GTC Scotland was concerned. The Teacher had engaged fully with the process. The Teacher did not respond initially pending the outcome of the criminal trial but then did so subsequently. The Panel was not aware of any other aggravating factors. The Panel had regard to the protection and safeguarding of young people, the issue of public confidence in a school’s judgement when selecting teachers to teach the children in their care. The Panel considered that there was an overriding public interest in finding the Teacher unfit to teach when they were on the Sex Offenders Register and the damage to the reputation of the teaching profession.
The Panel considered that the Teacher had fallen significantly short of the standards and that their conduct was fundamentally incompatible with being a registered Teacher.
For these reasons, the Panel concluded that the Teacher is currently unfit to teach.
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 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 2 years an appropriate time 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 their consent to the order, the case is to be referred for hearing proceedings.