GTC Scotland

The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Comhairle Choitcheann Teagaisg na h-Alba

General Teaching Council for Scotland Fitness to Teach Panel Outcome

           

Full Hearing - 11, 12 May and 2 June 2021    

 Teacher Tunde Szombathy (not present/represented on 11 and 12 May 2021, but present and represented on 2 June 2021)
 Registration Number 156859
 Registration category Secondary – Religious Education
 Panel Arthur Stewart (Convener), Gillian Fagan and Diane Molyneux
 Legal Assessor Fiona Drysdale
 Servicing Officer Isobel Allan
 Presenting Officer Laura Bowen, Anderson Strathern
 Teacher's representative Not represented on 11 and 12 May 2021, but represented on 2 June 2021 by John Muir of MML Legal

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 and Appeals Rules 2017 or refers to a provision (or provisions) within them
  • ‘SQA’ means Scottish Qualification Authority;
  • the 'Register' means the GTCS Register of Teachers
  • 'COPAC' means the Code of Professionalism and Conduct 2012

Preliminary Issues

At the outset, the Convener explained the rules and procedure for virtual hearings.

Proceeding in Absence of the Teacher

A Fitness to Teach Full Hearing was assigned to take place over 2 days commencing on Tuesday 11 May 2021. The Teacher did not attend the hearing on 11 May 2021. The Presenting Officer referred to Rule 1.7.8 on proceedings in the absence and submitted that the Panel required to be satisfied that (a) the Notice of Hearing had been properly served and (b) that it was fair to proceed in the Teacher’s absence. She referred to Rule 1.6.1 on service. She submitted that the Notice of Hearing had been properly served. She referred to an email received from the Teacher’s Representative on 10 May 2021 which was produced, indicating that neither the Teacher nor her Representative would attend the hearing. The email stated that the Teacher felt overwhelmed and unable to appear herself and was not able to afford representation for two days. The Panel was satisfied that notice had been served and received.

The Presenting Officer referred to the GTCS Practice Statement: Postponements, Adjournments and Proceeding in the Absence Part B. In particular, she referred to page 3, paragraph 5 which states that if a hearing is to proceed in the absence of a Teacher, the Panel must ensure that the hearing is conducted as fairly and in as balanced a way as the circumstances permit. She referred to Part D of the Practice Statement, in particular to the factors to be considered by the Panel, namely whether the Teacher has indicated an intention to attend and whether the Teacher has engaged with the process. She submitted that there was a voluntary absence by the Teacher. She submitted that the email dated 10 May 2021 was a clear statement that the Teacher did not intend to attend or be represented at the Full Hearing. The Presenting Officer submitted that the Panel could be satisfied that the Teacher had voluntarily absented herself from the Full Hearing and that the crux of the matter was whether the absence was voluntary or involuntary and that if the Teacher had chosen not to attend, the assumption was that the hearing will proceed. The Presenting Officer submitted that adjourning the hearing would serve no useful purpose, that the matter was serious and that it was in the public interest that the case proceeded without delay.

The Panel considered the Practice Statement and had regard to the circumstances surrounding the application to proceed in the absence. The Panel noted that English was not the Teacher’s first language, but that she was able to work as a teacher in Scotland speaking in English and took this factor into account in reaching its decision. The Panel concluded that she fully understood the process and the possible outcomes of the Full Hearing. The Panel had regard to the fact that the Teacher had chosen not to attend. The email made it clear that the Teacher could not afford professional representation and felt overwhelmed at the thought of representing herself. The Panel considered the reasons for the Presenting Officer’s application to proceed in absence. The Panel concluded that the Teacher had voluntarily chosen not to attend, albeit due to financial reasons. The Panel had regard to the nature of the allegations, the public interest, fairness to the Teacher and her human rights, particularly her right under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, namely the right to a fair trial, and the interests of the public and the Teacher in cases being dealt with as quickly as possible. The Panel considered the wider public interest in favour of determining the allegations and the fact that two witnesses were present and available for the hearing that day and the consequences of granting or refusing the application on those involved with the hearing, and the general objective set out in Part 1 of the Rules: the need to deal with cases fairly and justly and in ways which are proportionate, informal, and flexible, encourage participation, and avoid delay. The Panel considered that it was both necessary and proportionate to proceed in the absence of the Teacher.

The Panel had regard to the fact that the Teacher had admitted the allegations and that she had indicated she was not attending for financial reasons. The Panel did not consider that postponing or adjourning the hearing would change the reason for her non-attendance. The Panel considered the public interest in being assured that the SQA examinations and internal assessments are carried out correctly, and the impact on the children who sat preliminary (prelim) exams to know that they were fairly conducted.

The Panel determined (i) that service of the Notice had been effected in accordance with the Rules; and (ii) that the Teacher had voluntarily absented herself from the hearing and indicated that she would not be attending or be represented at the hearing, so it was just to proceed with the hearing in her absence.

The Panel noted that it must never draw any adverse inference from the fact that a teacher does not attend a hearing.

Allegations

The following allegations were considered at the hearing:

On or around 21st December 2017, whilst employed as a teacher by Aberdeenshire Council at Mackie Academy:

  1. You shared National 5 RMPS estimate exam questions with your S4 pupils in advance of the RMPS estimate prelim which took place on 31 January 2018; and
  2. Your actions at 1 above lacked integrity.

And in light of the above it is alleged that your fitness to teach is impaired and you are unfit to teach as a result of breaching Parts 1.4, 2.3 and 3.1 of the General Teaching Council for Scotland Code of Professionalism and Conduct.

Teacher’s Admissions

The Panel found that the allegations were admitted in full by the Teacher on the basis of her statement and responses in the electronic bundle, as clarified in correspondence with her representative.

Hearing Papers

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:

Presenting Officer’s Hearing Papers

  • Final Investigation Report, dated 2 May 2019 with appendices including:
  • Signed statement of Pupil 1
  • Signed statement of Witness 1, attended the hearing
  • Signed statement of Witness 2, attended the hearing
  • Signed statement of Colleague 2
  • Employer investigation report, dated 12 March 2018 with available appendices:
    • Appendix 1 – Statement Tunde Szombathy
    • Appendix 2 – Statement Witness 1
    • Appendix 4 – National 5 RMPS Estimate Exam paper
    • Appendix 5 – Photographs taken by pupils
    • Appendix 6 – Questions posed on Show my Homework
    • Appendix 7 – 2017 SQA National 5 RMPS Past Paper
    • Appendix 8 – SQA Quality Assurance Criteria
  • Handwritten notes, dated 21 December 2017 (not included in employer investigation report)
  • Employer referral form, dated 2 May 2018
  • Aberdeenshire Council Disciplinary Procedure for Teachers and Associated Professionals
  • Notification of Investigation Information Form, dated 23 May 2018.

Teacher’s Hearing Papers

Response to Interim Report, dated 11 April 2019
Response to Final Report, dated 14 June 2019 including:

  • Testimonial from Testimonial A

Statement by Testimonial B
Statement by Testimonial C
Statement by Testimonial D
Statement by Testimonial E
Statement by Testimonial F
Email from Teacher, dated 20 December 2019 including photograph
Email from Testimonial G, dated 26 March 2021
Character reference from Testimonial H.

Servicing Officer’s Hearing Papers

Notice of Full Hearing dated 11 March 2021 with cover email and delivery receipt.

Presenting Officer’s Submissions

The Presenting Officer narrated the allegations and that these were admitted in full. She made reference to the Notice of teacher’s case form dated 23 December 2019, to which the Teacher had responded by admitting the allegations set out in the form and as clarified in further emails from the Teacher’s representative. The Panel was invited to find that the allegations had been found
proved.

The Panel gave careful consideration to all of the evidence presented and submissions made by the Presenting Officer in making its findings of fact on the allegations.

Findings of Fact

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 Teacher was absent, and, in the circumstances, the Panel took account of the Practice Statement on Fact-finding in Fitness to Teach Conduct Cases relating to absent teachers and its obligation to ensure that the hearing is conducted as fairly and in as balanced a way as circumstances permit.

As the allegations were admitted, under Rule 1.7.21, the Panel found that the findings in fact were proved.

Fitness to Teach

Given that the Panel found that all of the allegations were proved as they had been admitted by the Teacher, the Panel invited the parties to lead evidence and make submissions in relation to the Teacher’s fitness to teach.

Witness 1

She confirmed that she had provided a statement to GTCS which was signed and dated 30 November 2018 and that what was written there was true. She confirmed that she was the Faculty Head of Humanities at Mackie Academy and had responsibility for Modern Studies and Religious Moral and Philosophical Studies (RMPS). She was the line manager to the Teacher. She spoke to concerns regarding the Teacher’s performance and her understanding of assessments including National 4 and 5 standards, her familiarity with the Scottish education system and teaching of 8- mark questions, preparation of the prelim paper by the Teacher and another colleague, Witness 2 and administration of the exam.

Witness 1 explained that the prelim was meant to be under SQA exam conditions, and spoke to information generally provided to pupils by teachers in advance of prelims. Another teacher in the department, Witness 2, reported to her that the Teacher had shown her class questions from the prelim exam. Witness 1 spoke to two pupils and was shown photos of the questions which they had taken of the questions during a class taught by the Teacher. She reported it to her line manager, Colleague 1 and interviewed the Teacher about the incident. Notes of a meeting with the Teacher were provided. The Teacher emailed her questions on the Show My Homework website which were very similar to those planned for the exam. Witness 1 also searched for slides used by the Teacher during the class on 21 December 2017; however, these could not be located. Colleague 1 later took over the management of the issue. The Panel considered that Witness 1was a credible and reliable witness.

Witness 2

She confirmed that she had provided a statement to GTCS which was signed and dated 6 December 2018 and that what was written there was true. She confirmed that she was a teacher of RMPS at Mackie Academy. She worked in the same department as the Teacher and was friendly with her. She spoke to the Teacher’s difficulties in controlling difficult behaviour in the classroom, weekly meetings that she had with her, team teaching with her, preparation of the prelim paper, confidentiality of the prelim paper, that the prelim would be undertaken in exam conditions and the Teacher’s understanding that she should not share prelim questions with the pupils.

She became aware that the Teacher had shared questions for the prelim with pupils in her class. Two of those pupils showed her photos of the questions shared in class. She reported this to her line manager.

The Panel considered that Witness 2 was a credible and reliable witness. She was honest about facts that she did not know such as the quality of the relationship between Witness 1 and the Teacher, interactions which she did not observe between them and the Teacher’s sense of isolation later in the year.

Application to Adjourn on Day 2 of the Hearing

An application to adjourn the hearing was made by the Teacher’s Representative during Day 2 of the hearing, on 12 May 2021. He had intimated by email on 10 May 2021 that the Teacher would not appear or be represented on the first day of the hearing as she had felt overwhelmed and unable to appear herself and was not able to afford representation for two days. In this email of 10 May 2021, he stated that he wished to provide a plea in mitigation on her behalf. The Servicing Officer contacted him by email at the request of the Panel to invite him to do so on both 11 and 12 May, however he did not respond. The Panel therefore requested that the Servicing Officer contact him by telephone at the start of Day 2 of the Hearing on 12 May 2021 to confirm his position. During that telephone call, he advised the Servicing Officer that there had been a change in the Teacher’s circumstances overnight in that he was now willing to appear on her behalf on a pro bono basis.

The Teacher’s Representative made submissions that it was within the discretion of the Panel to adjourn the hearing to allow the Teacher to be present at the hearing and to be represented. He had tried to contact the Teacher that morning, but she was working and had not replied. He had a dental appointment and consultations that afternoon. Neither he nor the Teacher were available to attend that day but could on any other day. He submitted that it was a matter of equity and fairness and that she should be allowed to give evidence to give her version of events, an explanation as to why the incident occurred and what steps going forward could be put in place. The Presenting Officer opposed the application to adjourn. She referred to the Practice Statement on Postponements, Adjournments and Proceeding in the Absence. She submitted that Notice of the hearing had been served properly and in advance of the hearing commencing and questioned whether there was a valid reason for the Teacher not participating in the hearing that day and in the context of her having provided statements outlining her position.

Decision by Panel on the application to adjourn

The Panel referred to the Practice Statement. It noted that the Teacher had the opportunity to appear before and considered that it was regrettable that the Teacher’s Representative had the opportunity to appear pro bono and could have taken that decision in advance of the hearing. The Panel noted however that the Representative had indicated that the Teacher could not afford to pay for him to appear on her behalf for 2 days; however, he felt he could appear for one day on a pro bono basis. The Panel was grateful to him that the opportunity to hear the evidence of the Teacher in person and to ask her questions about her statement was now being provided.

The Panel considered the issue of fairness to the Teacher and her right to a fair trial under Article 6 European Convention on Human Rights, including her right to have her hearing heard in public and to be present. The Panel considered what the view of a well-informed member of the public would be on the application for adjournment. It considered the issue of further delay in the context of the fact that more than 3 years had elapsed since December 2017 and that a further delay of possibly a month would not make any material difference. The Panel considered that if the Teacher appeared in person, it had a better opportunity of delivering a fair outcome. The Panel considered the interests of the public and the Teacher in cases being dealt with as soon as possible, the consequences of granting or refusing the application on those involved with the hearing including witnesses, the general objective set out in Part 1 of the Rules being the need to deal with cases fairly and justly and in ways which are proportionate, informal, and flexible, encourage participation and avoid delay, and the wider public interest. The Panel considered that this was the first time the Teacher had made a motion to adjourn and there was no evidence that she was seeking to put off or obstruct the proceedings. It had regard to the serious nature of the allegations and that it had heard from two witnesses but not from the Teacher herself. The Panel considered that while the Teacher could have been present that day she did not know until that day that she would have access to a representative and that a barrier to her ability to attend had been lifted. The Panel considered that a departure from the general rule was justified in the interests of fairness and that there were significant and demonstrated reasons for this due to the change of circumstances for the Teacher which allowed her to attend.

The Panel concluded that the application for an adjournment would be granted, and a date was fixed for Day 3 of the hearing to be rescheduled for 2 June 2021 at 10am.

Preliminary Matters on 2 June 2021

Two preliminary issues were considered by the Panel.

Firstly, the Presenting Officer provided an email from Witness 1 to the Servicing Officer dated 12 May 2021. Contained within this email was a second email sent to Witness 1 by the Teacher on 8 May 2021, The Presenting Officer submitted that the email should be admitted late, simply to show to the Panel that there was nothing either advantageous or disadvantageous to the Teacher. The Teacher’s Representative objected to this on the basis that it was irrelevant.

The Panel considered that the email provided no advantage to either party and no disadvantage and noted its contents.

Secondly, the Teacher’s Representative raised a concern about reference to previous complaints made against the Teacher which were mentioned in the papers and wished to check whether any questions were put to witnesses in this regard on days 1 and 2 of the hearing.

The Panel considered that the Teacher had had the opportunity to be present and represented on days 1 and 2 of the hearing. The Presenting Officer clarified that the questions put to Witness 1 and Witness 2 were confined to the matter before the Panel and did not refer to any previous events.

Teacher’s Evidence

The Teacher gave evidence with regards to her Fitness to Teach.

She confirmed that she had provided a statement to GTCS which was signed and dated 7 February 2017 and that what was written there was true. She confirmed that she had been a teacher of RMPS at Mackie Academy. She gave evidence and spoke to her career history including extensive experience of working with children, her long held desire to enter the teaching profession and different cultural experiences which she had gained teaching in Hungary and the USA. She arrived at Mackie Academy in August 2017 and described relative social and professional isolation which she experienced due to being new to the area and being Hungarian. She did not find communication easy due to local accents and was nervous about her classes. By October 2017 an investigatory process had been started against her. She was provided with practical advice and support but there was concern about her teaching methods and her classes were observed. She was suffering from various personal and health issues at the time and considered this to be the hardest few months of her life. She lost her self-confidence. She considered that it was hard for the older children to accept her because of her accent and because of where she was from. She accepted that she had a lack of familiarity with the Scottish education system generally.

The Panel considered that the Teacher was a credible and reliable witness, that she was sincere, that she acknowledged that she had made a mistake, and spoke to the reasons why she had made a mistake. She confirmed that her motivation was to help the children, but she did not exaggerate her health issues and did not try to mislead the Panel. She did not make excuses for her actions and was honest.

The Panel attached weight to the fact that the Teacher wanted to be clear that she was being totally honest. The Panel felt that the Teacher could possibly have emphasised a personality clash with Witness 1, but instead admitted to Witness 1’s frustration with her. She demonstrated some insight into her behaviour or perceived lack of ability in that she could acknowledge the position of other colleagues. She stated that she denied the allegations at first because she was stressed. The Panel recognised that the Teacher stated when she did not know something. She accepted that she required further training and support before she could return to teaching. She had hired a teacher who helped her to prepare for Nat 5 classes, but this had resulted in her receiving contradictory advice from that which she received from those at Mackie Academy. She recognised that she had caused harm and expressed her apologies for that but had since sought to address this by attending both a psychologist and a personal coach, observing teachers working in deprived areas in Hungary to observe how teachers control their classes, had worked with a family of three children, and studied some Open University courses. She now accepted that the prelim questions should have remained confidential ahead of the exam. She had a mentor in the form of a teacher at Lenzie Academy with whom she had previously worked, with whom she remained in touch and whom she had told about the allegations. She stated that if she encountered a future situation where she suffered from stress, she recognised that it was crucial to have good relationships with her Head Teacher and close colleagues, that she should have requested help and they might have informed her of something else that the school required, that she should have asked for feedback and about the expectations in the school. She had felt incompetent, had lost her self-confidence, and felt she did not fit in.

There were no submissions made by the Teacher on the credibility and reliability of Witness 1 and Witness 2. The Panel gave careful consideration to all of the evidence presented and submissions made by the parties in relation to the Teacher’s fitness to teach.

The Presenting Officer made submissions that an individual is unfit to teach if they fall significantly short of standards expected of a registered Teacher. She referred to the GTCS Indicative Outcomes Guidance setting out the factors to be considered for impairment and fitness to teach and how the panel should approach the issue of the public interest. She submitted that exams are a cornerstone of the education system, that the Teacher was expected to adhere to the rules for all pupils sitting exams, and that it was not expected that questions would be shared with pupils ahead of a prelim. She further submitted that it was clear from the evidence that the Teacher had discussed the issues in advance with Witness 2. She referred to the individual breaches of COPAC and submitted that the Teacher has demonstrated limited insight and remediation.

The Teacher’s Representative submitted that the original questions were not used for the prelim, no advantage was provided to anyone and she did not cause any actual harm. He compared the Teacher’s case to the ‘exams scandal’ story in the news that day. He submitted that the Teacher did have insight and accepted her culpability. She had not sought to deflect blame onto others despite being shouted at by Witness 1 and she accepted Witness 1’s frustration at her. He suggested that Witness 1 could have quite easily said nothing to the pupils and that all that needed to happen as far as the pupils and the wider public were concerned was that a fresh prelim could be written which took one hour. In his submission, the damage was done by the way in which the matter was handled by Mackie Academy. He urged the Panel to consider the combination of factors that had caused the Teacher to act as she did including communication difficulties, lack of a support network, and complaints and investigations made within weeks of her arrival which undermined her. She had been confused, lonely, anxious, isolated and doubted her ability as a teacher. In his submission, he said that the Presenting Officer had not provided one example of lack of insight and the Panel should consider impairment. He cited the Teacher’s dedication to get into teaching, the isolated nature of the incident, that she had not even been a teacher for 6 months when this happened, that she had made a mistake, that she had much to offer but required 8 help and support and he asked the Panel to give her another chance. He further submitted that the Human Resources department at Mackie Academy did nothing, and that there should be a system in schools, particularly country schools, which were not used to foreign teachers coming in.

The Panel addressed the relevant considerations in relation to fitness to teach, as outlined in the GTCS Indicative Outcomes Guidance.

In particular, the Panel considered that the following parts of COPAC had been breached:

Part 1: Professionalism and maintaining trust in the profession 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 breached by the Teacher sharing the questions, not upholding standards of professional conduct, and having a lack of integrity. This was because she was sharing the questions, in her view, so that the children in her class could be as good as those in the other class, as it was acknowledged that they had a more experienced teacher. The effect of this, however, could have led to the pupils in the Teacher’s class having an advantage. This would affect public confidence in her as a teacher and in the teaching profession. The Panel considered that this was a serious breach; however, it did not consider that it was fundamentally incompatible with being a teacher. It was an isolated incident but had the potential to become more serious if it had not been recognised.

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;

The Panel considered that 2.3 of COPAC was not relevant to the allegations.

Part 3: Professional Competence

3.1. you should maintain and develop your professional practice to ensure you continue to meet the requirements of the Standards for Full Registration (SFR) which comprise:

− Professional knowledge and understanding;

− Professional skills and abilities;

− Professional values and personal commitment.

The Panel considered whether the Teacher knew not to share prelim exam questions. She had been specifically warned not to so do, and failed to appreciate the magnitude of what she did when she did it in terms of the harm that could be caused to a key component of the exam process, including appeals and grades. The Panel considered that there was premeditation as the Teacher acted deliberately to make up for her perception that she was not as good a teacher as Witness 2.

The Panel considered that it was possible that the Teacher did not know the importance or centrality to the exam process of the prelim exam, coming from a different system. She knew she should not do it but did not appreciate the ramifications of doing it. The Panel considered that this was a serious breach of the SFR in terms of her professional skills and abilities, but that it was not fundamentally incompatible with being a teacher. The fact that the Teacher was ignorant of the consequences of her actions was not an excuse because she should have known them.

The Panel considered that the Teacher had made an egregious error but that this was remediable. She was asked about whether she would do the same again having understood the seriousness of her error. She had acted without integrity and lied about it, initially stating that she had only shared one question but not five Her conduct was remediable but fell short of accepted standards. The Panel considered that this was an isolated error and took into account her acceptance of her actions. She was from a foreign country, living in a part of Scotland where she experienced a 9 language barrier due to her difficulties understanding the local accent and had little shared culture with the local community. Her sense of isolation was heightened by the fact that she was a mature entrant to the teaching profession. On being discovered, she had panicked and attempted to lie her way out of the situation but had acted as she did for the benefit of the children. The Panel considered that Mackie Academy had acted quickly in response to her mistakes and that there were no aggravating factors. The Teacher had engaged with the process, and she had admitted the allegations. She had been under several stressors and made a simple error of judgement. There was no history of misconduct. Due to her sense of isolation, she had not known where to go for help. No independent evidence of steps to remediate was provided by any other witnesses other than the Teacher. The Panel took into account the Teacher’s relative inexperience at an early career stage and considered that there was not a risk of reoccurrence. She previously had health issues but suffered from no health conditions now. Therefore, the Panel considered that the shortfalls were remediable, had been remedied and that there was not a likelihood of reoccurrence.

The Panel considered the public interest and the issue of trust in the profession and that GTCS had to show that this was not acceptable behaviour in order to uphold standards. The Panel considered that a reasonably informed member of the public would think the conduct was serious as it could undermine the examination process and would want it to be marked in some way, but would not expect a newly qualified teacher on their first offence to be removed from the Register. The Teacher had caused public confidence in the profession to be undermined and there was a requirement for a deterrent to others in acting in the way that she did. From the character evidence provided, the Panel inferred that the Teacher had support, that she had access to a mentor at Lenzie Academy and accepted constructive criticism.

Accordingly, for the reasons set out above, the Panel determined that there was an overriding public interest in making a finding that the Teacher’s fitness to teach is currently impaired.

Disposal

The Panel heard submissions on disposal from the Presenting Officer and the Teacher’s Representative.

The Panel considered the Indicative Outcomes Guidance Practice Statement and that the factors present included that the matter had been admitted; the Teacher had reflected on the matter, shown genuine remorse and had taken steps to properly address the issues. It also considered that the matter represented an isolated incident and there had been no repetition of the matter at issue since the incident concerned; there was evidence attesting to the good character and history of the Teacher, and that a reprimand is in the public interest. It appropriately indicates to the profession and the public the seriousness of the matter at issue, therefore maintaining public confidence in teachers and the teaching profession. The Panel considered the Teacher’s character and in particular the fact that she was teaching in a second language and her vulnerability due to personal and health issues. The Panel considered the testimonials provided and noted that there may be cultural differences in the way that insight, explanation, and remorse were expressed by the Teacher compared to others.

The Panel considered the circumstances of the case with reference to what was proportionate, the public interest with reference to what has already been done by the Teacher to remediate and the importance of a deterrent and public protection. The Panel considered the rights of the Teacher and the practical realities of a reprimand, given that she was not currently employed as a teacher, the level of the misconduct and the period of time which had elapsed since then. Taking all relevant factors into account, the Panel concluded that a reprimand was the most appropriate disposal.

As set out in the Indicative Outcome Guidance, the Panel may impose a reprimand for such a period of time as the Panel sees fit but sets out that between 6 months and 2 years is the general starting range. The Indicative Outcomes Guidance states that the primary purpose of a sanction is to be protective and not punitive. Having considered all the relevant factors, the Panel ordered that a reprimand be recorded against the Teacher’s entry in the GTCS’s Register for a period of 1 year.