Witnesses are an important part of our Fitness to Teach process. Their evidence helps us investigate concerns about teachers and college lecturers.

There are many ways witnesses take part in the process. Choose the options below that best represents what you have been asked to do.

Supporting a referral

When someone fills out a referral form about a teacher or college lecturer’s conduct (how they behave), they are asked to include contact details of people who witnessed the alleged behaviour.

The person who is filling out the form should ask you if you are happy for your details to be included.

We then read the form and decide if we will investigate.

If we decide to investigate, the teacher or college lecturer will receive a notice of investigation and you may be asked to provide a statement.

You can find information about how GTC Scotland uses your personal data in our privacy notice for witnesses and referrers to Fitness to Teach:

Giving a witness statement

We have asked you to give a statement as we think you may be able to provide information to help us investigate a Fitness to Teach case.

We will usually take your statement over video conferencing (Microsoft Teams). We may, however, ask to meet with you or we can take your statement over the phone if you do not have access to Microsoft Teams.

To give a statement, please find a quiet area where you will not be interrupted. No one else should be there while you are giving your statement.

You must provide us with a true and accurate account of the events to the best of your knowledge. You must not say anything that you know is untrue or inaccurate.

We will send you the first draft of your statement by email, allowing you to make any changes.

Once you have made the changes, we will check and amend the statement. We will send you a final draft and ask you to sign this by hand, scan it, and send it back to us.

Please delete or destroy draft and final copies of your statement or ensure that you store them securely. Do not show them to anyone else. Sharing your statement could seriously impact the Fitness to Teach case.

What happens next?

We will give the teacher or college lecturer and their representative, a copy of your statement to allow them to respond to the allegations.

We will also submit your statement to a Panel to consider what should happen next with the case.

The Panel may decide to proceed to a hearing. Your statement will form part of the hearing papers, which everyone involved in the hearing can read.

We may ask you to attend a hearing to give evidence. The Panel will ask you to read out your statement. We do this so the Panel can ask questions.


We aim to support witnesses through the Fitness to Teach process. Please raise any concerns you have directly with the regulation officer assigned to the case.

Frequently asked questions

We only ask for a statement when we feel it is necessary. We can apply to the Court of Session, which may authorise us to take evidence from you.

If you are a teacher or college lecturer, you should participate in a Fitness to Teach investigation when requested.

If you feel you may need someone to support you while you give your statement, please let us know in advance so that we can ensure this is appropriate.

If you need special arrangements to help you make a statement, please tell us.

You should not discuss the case with anyone. We appreciate that you may require some support from family, friends or colleagues during the process. To avoid impacting the case, we ask that you limit how much information you share.


The evidence you give must be your memory of events only. Otherwise, a Panel may view your evidence as unreliable.

Many factors impact your memory of an event. Slight differences in witness accounts of the same event are natural. The Panel will consider this.

You may have provided a statement on the same matter to other agencies including employers regulatory bodies or the police.

While these statements may form part of the evidence, we need to take a new one from you because our investigation process is separate.

Hearings are usually held in public.

Members of the public can attend, including the press.

If we do not ask you to attend, your statement will either be read out loud or be available to read during the hearing. Attendees can read it and journalists can report on it.

We will use your name at the hearing unless a Panel has decided it should be anonymised.

In exceptional circumstances, a Panel can prevent or restrict the public disclosure of any part of the hearing, including witness evidence.

We may redact (black out) parts of your statement if these details are not relevant to the hearing and should not be heard.

In most cases, we will publish the Fitness to Teach decision on our website. View past decisions here. Your evidence may be included. Your name will be anonymised in the decision.

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.

Giving evidence

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 recent 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

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 feedback 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.

Other people who may be present include:

  • Legal Assessor - An independent solicitor or advocate who advises the Fitness to Teach Panel on legal matters.
  • Servicing Officer - A member of GTC Scotland staff. They advise the Fitness to Teach Panel on procedural matters.
  • Presenting Officer - 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 - 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.

Wellbeing support

We know that being involved in the Fitness to Teach process may be stressful. The following services are available to you if you need them.

Education Support: 08000 562 561

Breathing Space: 0800 83 85 87

The Samaritans: 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org  

Teacher Support Network, Recourse and Turn2us: 08000 562 561, email support@teachersupport.info or download practical guides

Turn2us (0808 802 2000) is a free service that helps people in financial need access welfare benefits, charitable grants, and other financial help. Turn2us works in partnership with Teacher Support Scotland regarding the financial concerns of teachers.