General Teaching Council for Scotland Fitness to Teach Panel Outcome. Full Hearing Monday 22 June 2015

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1 ANNEX General Teaching Council for Scotland Fitness to Teach Panel Outcome Full Hearing Monday 22 June 2015 Respondent Ciaran Earle Registration number Registration category Secondary - English Panel Members Donald MacKay (Convener), David Forrest, Jennifer Speirs Legal Assessor Valerie Mays Servicing Officer Vivien Whyte Presenting Officer Kate Hart, GTCS in-house solicitor Respondent s Representative Jamie Foulis, Balfour & Manson LLP 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 2012 or refers to a provision (or provisions) within them; and the Register means the GTCS register of teachers Preliminary issues Shortened period of notice The Panel noted that rule provides that, unless the parties agree otherwise, the Respondent must be given no fewer than 28 days notice of a full hearing. The Respondent had been given less than 28 days notice. Mr Foulis confirmed that it had been agreed between the parties that a slightly shorter period of notice of the full hearing would be given in this case. Amended complaint The Panel noted that the offences referred to in the complaint had taken place in 2003, 2008 and On that basis, the Panel queried whether the GTCS Code of Professionalism and Conduct 2012 was the applicable Code in relation to the offences committed in 2003 and The Presenting Officer submitted that the applicable version of the Code in relation to the 2003 offence was the GTCS Professional Code for Registered Teachers 2003 and in relation to the 2008 offence was the GTCS Code of Professionalism and Conduct Mr Foulis was given the opportunity to consider the terms of the GTCS Professional Code for Registered Teachers 2003 and the GTCS Code of Professionalism and Conduct He accepted that the offences in 2003 and 2008 were matters that could fall within the 2003 and 2008 Code. He conceded that amending the complaint to include a reference to the 2003 and 2008 Code did not prejudice the Respondent. After receiving advice from the Legal Assessor and considering the submissions made on the issue, the Panel amended the complaint to include a reference to the 2003 and 2008 Code. Complaint The complaint against the Respondent considered at the hearing was as follows: 1

2 1. On 18 August 2003 at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, you were convicted of the following offence on summary complaint: Road Traffic Act 1988, section 5(1)(a) (driving under the influence of alcohol) And in respect of the above offence, you were on 25 August 2003 sentenced to a fine of 400 and you were disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for one year and your licence was endorsed. 2. On 13 May 2009 at Edinburgh Justice of the Peace Court, you were convicted of the following offence on summary complaint: On 16 November 2008 at London Road, Edinburgh east of Cambusnethan Street, being a restricted road in terms of Section 82 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 as amended by Section 126 and Schedule 7 of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984, you did drive a motor vehicle, namely motor car, registered number XXXXXXX at a speed exceeding thirty miles per hour, namely at a speed of 40 miles per hour; CONTRARY to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, Section 81 and 89 And in respect of the above offence, you were on 13 May 2009 sentenced to a fine of 140 and 3 penalty points were imposed on your licence and your licence was endorsed. 3. On 29 October 2013 at Haddington Justice of the Peace Court, you were convicted of the following offences on summary complaint: On 13 September 2013 on a road, namely Spott Road, Dunbar, East Lothian, you did drive a motor vehicle, namely motor van, registered number XXXXXXX on said road otherwise than in accordance with a licence authorising you to drive a motor vehicle of that class in that you did drive said motor vehicle without being the holder of such a licence; CONTRARY to the Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 87(1) On 13 September 2013 on a road, namely Spott Road, Dunbar, East Lothian, you did use a motor vehicle, namely motor van, registered number XXXXXXX without there being in force in relation to the use of said motor vehicle by you such a policy of insurance or such a security in respect of third party risks as complied with the requirements of Part IV of the Road Traffic Act 1988; CONTRARY to the Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 143(1) and (2) as amended And in respect of these offences you were, on 29 October 2013, sentenced to a fine of 160 and your licence was endorsed and a fine of 400 and 6 penalty points were imposed on your licence and your licence was endorsed, respectively. 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 the GTCS Professional Code for Registered Teachers 2003, sections 1.3, 1.4 and 1.6 of the General Teaching Council for Scotland s Code of Professionalism and Conduct 2008 and sections 1.3, 1.4 and 1.6 of the General Teaching Council for Scotland s Code of Professionalism and Conduct Evidence In accordance with rule 3.1.3, the Panel admitted all of the documents and statements listed below as evidence for the purposes of the hearing: Presenting Officer (a) Extract Conviction from Edinburgh Sheriff Court dated 15 October 2014; (b) Certified Minute of Court Proceedings from Edinburgh Justice of the Peace Court dated 15 October 2014; 2

3 (c) Reply Form signed by Ciaran Earle dated 6 May 2009; (d) Enforcement Order dated 13 May 2009; (e) Copy Complaint in the case of Procurator Fiscal v Ciaran Earle with reference number ED ; (f) Extract Conviction from Haddington Justice of the Peace Court, dated 19 September 2014; (g) Copy Complaint in the case of Procurator Fiscal v Ciaran Earle with reference number HA ; (h) Summary of Evidence in the case HA ; (i) Letter to Mark Paxton, GTCS, from Jamie Foulis, Balfour Manson, dated 15 October 2014 Respondent (a) Notice of Hearing Response Form signed and dated 5 June 2015; (b) Respondent s statement, signed and dated 4 March 2015 (the Respondent attended the hearing and gave oral evidence); (c) Letter from Dr Cassells to Balfour & Manson, dated 26 November 2014 (did not attend the hearing); (d) Driving Assessment Report by Stuart Ireland, dated 11 January 2015 (Mr Ireland attended the hearing and gave oral evidence); (e) Letter from Direct Line to the Respondent dated 11 October 2014; (f) Certificate of Motor Insurance issued by Direct Line dated 14 February 2015; (g) Up to date photocard and counterpart driving licence for the Respondent; (h) Statement of Alice Clubb, signed and dated 8 January 2015 (Ms Clubb attended the hearing and gave oral evidence); (i) Statement of Iain Robertson, signed and dated 5 December 2014 (Mr Robertson did not attend the hearing); (j) Statement of John Bain, signed and dated 8 December 2014 (Mr Bain did not attend the hearing); (k) Statement of Sheilagh Fallon, signed and dated 18 January 2015 (Ms Fallon attended the hearing and gave oral evidence); (l) Statement of Tracey Ann Miller, signed and dated 23 January 2015 (Ms Miller attended the hearing and gave oral evidence); (m) Reference from Alice Clubb; (n) Reference from Annette Rowson; (o) Reference from Eric Fraser; (p) Reference from Gordon Roberts; (q) Reference from Ian Robertson; (r) Reference from John Bain; (s) Reference from Lindsay Baldwin; (t) Reference from Paul Raffaelli; (u) Reference from Richard Woof; (v) Reference from Susan Aitken; (w) Reference from Tracey Miller; (x) Supplementary Driving Assessment Report by Stuart Irelend dated 3 May 2015; (y) Letter from the DVLA dated 22 April 2015 Findings of fact on the complaint The Panel gave careful consideration to all of the evidence presented in making its findings of fact. The Panel noted that there was no evidence disputing that the person named in the extract convictions was the Respondent. In addition, the Panel noted that, in his Notice of Hearing Response Form, the Respondent had indicated that he admitted the facts as set out in the complaint. As a result, in accordance with rule 3.8.2(d), the Convener announced, at the hearing, that the facts as set out in the complaint had been found proved. Findings on fitness to teach 3

4 Given that the Panel found that all of the allegations set out in the complaint were proved, the Panel invited the parties to lead evidence and make submissions in relation to the Respondent s fitness to teach. Respondent s witnesses 1. Respondent In relation to charge 1, the Respondent stated that he had consumed two pints of beer and recognised that it was a serious error of judgment to drive. He pled guilty to the offence at the earliest opportunity. This offence took place prior to him becoming registered with GTCS. Since taking up his post as a registered teacher, he had never driven after consuming alcohol. He was aware that, as a teacher, he required to set an example to pupils. He explained that he was aware of the recent change in legal alcohol limits. He had no history of alcohol abuse or excessive alcohol consumption. In oral evidence, the Respondent explained that this was the worst thing that he had done; it was rash and foolish. He had thought about whether he had been over the drink driving limit and took a gamble. He referred to the shame of having to admit his actions to family members as well as the disastrous impact it had on him. Shortly after the conviction, he took up his post as a probationer in Peebles and eventually had to move there because he had no independent means of transport, given that he lost his licence. With respect to the second conviction, the Respondent confirmed that he was driving at 40 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone. Again, he had taken responsibility for this offence at the earliest possible opportunity. He had always taken great care with his speed both before and after this incident. In oral evidence, the Respondent confirmed that it was a stupid thing for him to have done but that he was driving in Edinburgh and got caught up in the flow of the traffic. He referred to the fact that he had never made any insurance claims nor had he had any bumps or crashes. In response to charge 3, the Respondent explained that this was the result of an administrative error. He was astonished and extremely remorseful on discovering that he did not hold a valid licence. He called the DVLA on the same day as the police stopped him and then sent his licence to them. He had not received correspondence from the DVLA notifying him that his licence was void or that they were considering making it so. The DVLA s response was that they did not know why his licence had been voided and that it must have been a mistake. He would never have knowingly driven without a licence. He had paid his insurance premiums throughout the relevant period. However, since he did not hold a valid licence, his insurance cover was void. He had never failed to complete and submit the paperwork to renew his insurance policy on time. He stated that he will check his bank statement on a monthly basis to ensure that all direct debits have come out. In oral evidence, the Respondent stated that, until receipt of the letter from the DVLA on 22 April 2015, he had not known why his driving licence had been revoked. He had not received the letters that were referred to in that letter, advising him that his licence would be revoked if he did not send his licence to be endorsed. He said that it was shocking and frightening that he had been driving for years without a valid licence. The police had commented at the time that it was clear, from the Respondent s reaction, that he had not been aware of this. The Respondent explained that his annual insurance premiums are around 360 per year and that it could be seen from the papers that he had always been insured. The Respondent considered himself to be a careful and considerate driver and was aware of his responsibilities as a road user. He outlined his teaching history and stated that he is extremely passionate about his job and education as a whole. He appreciated the seriousness with which GTCS treats criminal convictions. He confirmed that he had always viewed his responsibilities both within and outwith the classroom as very important. He had never been the subject of any complaint and had never directly received any complaints or concerns. In cross-examination, the Respondent confirmed that, in relation to charge 1, he definitely only had two pints of beer; he distinctly remembered thinking that he might be within the legal alcohol limit to drive, which he accepted was a stupid idea. He was a volunteer at the time and was meeting other 4

5 volunteers. He only lived five minutes along the road and had swithered as to whether to walk home. In relation to charge 2, the Respondent accepted that he was an experienced driver and, accordingly, knew that the general speed limit in built up areas is 30 miles per hour. He was caught up in the traffic and took his eye off his speed. He confirmed that he is very aware of speed limits. The Respondent stated that he was very aware that drink driving is careless, irresponsible and can have a disastrous impact. He said that he felt like a hypocrite and accepted that such a conviction could undermine the teacher-pupil relationship. In terms of insight, he said that the first conviction was so long ago that he looked back on it as an immature decision. His life had changed in many ways since then. To him, it was an absurd suggestion that he would repeat his conduct. He was so shocked by what he had done that it would just not happen again, particularly since he now has children. 2. Stuart Ireland Mr Ireland confirmed that he has been an approved driving instructor (ADI) since 2008, which qualification required a 3-part test. He requires to undergo a standards check test every four years in order to maintain that qualification. He is also an approved advanced driving instructor. Mr Ireland confirmed that he took the Respondent for two driving sessions, the first being on 11 January and the other on 3 May He had prepared reports following on from both of those sessions, which had identified minor issues with the Respondent s driving. He related those issues to the nervousness of the Respondent in sitting with a driving instructor and the fact that the Respondent was driving an unfamiliar vehicle in an unfamiliar area. There was no indication of recklessness or carelessness in the Respondent s driving. He was well within the speed limits and was clearly a very experienced driver. Mr Ireland had had a lengthy discussion with the Respondent about the drink driving conviction, which conversation took place not long after the new drink driving limit had come into force. Both concluded that a driver now cannot afford to have even one alcoholic drink before driving. In relation to the speeding offence, Mr Ireland stated that it is an easy thing to do when keeping up with the flow of the traffic. He stated that he did not have any significant concerns about the Respondent s driving and, by the second session, it was clear that the Respondent had responded to the issues identified in the first session. Mr Ireland agreed that he could not control how an individual drove in their own car. However, the very fact of him alerting a driver to certain issues would hopefully make that driver more aware when in his/her own vehicle. Although he could not state that the Respondent would not incur other road traffic offences, he had the experience to spot the warning signs of an unsafe driver, such as constantly sitting above the speed limit or not being aware of what he/she is doing. 3. Alice Clubb Ms Clubb is a former colleague of the Respondent, having known him since She described the Respondent as extremely reliable, who was involved in numerous extra-curricular activities at the school. He has a firm but fair approach to the pupils and has a very calm manner. In relation to the allegations, Ms Clubb did not believe that there would have been any maliciousness involved and it would have been a case of genuine human error, which should not be used to call into question his career. She had never known him to be irresponsible. She had absolutely no concerns that any of the convictions would ever be repeated. She used to lift share with the Respondent and stated that his driving had never given her any cause for concern. In oral evidence, Ms Clubb stated that she could not think of anyone she would rather teach her children; he is definitely a role model to children. Ms Clubb confirmed that she would have no problem with the Respondent driving with her baby in the car. From her experience, he is not a fast driver, careless or reckless. She had discussed the convictions with the Respondent, who she said was very upset at time of the last conviction and had been glad that nothing had happened in the period that he did not have a valid licence. In respect of the first conviction, he regretted it and said that he would never risk that again. 5

6 4. Iain Robertson Mr Robertson is a colleague of the Respondent and has known him for around ten years. Again, he described the extra-curricular activities in which the Respondent had been involved and also his attributes as a teacher. The Respondent had never made a secret of his drink driving conviction and acknowledged that it was a stupid mistake. Mr Robertson was certain that it would not be repeated. The Respondent s conduct as a teacher and a member of staff was exemplary, both within and outwith the school. The Respondent had explained about his failure to renew his licence and the subsequent convictions. Mr Robertson thought that if there was a reason for those convictions, it was that the Respondent had too much on his plate since he has a very busy family life and had had to face a number of challenges in connection with that. 5. John Bain Mr Bain is a colleague of the Respondent and has known him for eight years. He described the Respondent as a consummate professional. He also knew him in a social capacity. Mr Bain said that he did not think that he would have any concerns as to the Respondent s attitude towards his responsibilities as a teacher. He did not think there was any danger of any of the incidents referred to in the complaint being repeated. He would not doubt the Respondent s integrity or professionalism for a second. In terms of alcohol, he had never seen anything in connection with the Respondent which would lead him to have any concerns with regards to his drinking habits. 6. Sheilagh Fallon Ms Fallon is a colleague of the Respondent and has known him for around ten years. She was previously an Acting Guidance Teacher. She had worked with the Respondent in relation to extracurricular activities at the school. She also knew the Respondent in a personal capacity. She did not feel that the convictions impacted on the Respondent s fitness to teach at all. She had often been a passenger in his car and did not have any objection to getting into a car with him. She would have no concerns about him driving her small boy. As Acting Guidance Teacher, Ms Fallon explained that she did not have to deal with any issues from the Respondent s pupils. Although she had not been in a car with the Respondent for around 4-5 years, she had seen him driving past her house numerous times and would class his driving as being appropriate. She had never known him to have driven after consuming alcohol. Ms Fallon did not think that the convictions impacted on the Respondent s fitness to teach because they did not impact on the safety of the pupils in his class; he is an excellent teacher. The Respondent had spoken to her about the convictions and her view was that he had reflected on them. 7. Tracey Ann Miller Ms Miller is a colleague of the Respondent and had known him for around seven years. She described him as professional, responsible and caring in his professional and personal life. The Respondent had taught her two sons. Again, she described the numerous extra-curricular activities that the Respondent undertook. Ms Miller strongly disagreed with any suggestion that the Respondent s convictions affected his ability to be a role model to pupils. Her view was that the isolated convictions showed that the Respondent is human and that he has made mistakes, which he has learned from. She considered the pupils value an individual more if they know they have experienced what they are talking about and have learned from that. Ms Miller stated that having experience can help a teacher to be a role model. Her view was that the Respondent would not drink alcohol now if he was driving and his primary motivation is the health and safety of him, his family and his pupils. In oral evidence, Ms Miller explained that she was comfortable with the fact that the Respondent is a role model to her children. She would be happy to leave both pupils and her own children with 6

7 him. She had spoken to the Respondent about the convictions, which did not cloud her impression of him because she knows how professional he is. To the best of her knowledge, he would not repeat the behaviour. She was of the view that the Respondent regretted his actions. Submissions The Presenting Officer referred to the GTCS Indicative Outcomes Guidance ( IOG ), the GTCS Code of Professionalism and Conduct ( COPAC ) and the definitions of impairment and being unfit to teach. She referred to the fact that the Respondent had breached the criminal law on several occasions, which, consequently, amounted to a breach of various sections of COPAC. Both the 2008 and 2012 versions of COPAC referred to teachers avoiding situations in which they could be in breach of the criminal law. The 2003 version of the Code imposed a requirement on teachers to be role models for pupils whether within or outwith the classroom and a conviction could, in the Presenting Officer s submission, be a breach of that provision. In this case, there was a string of offences. The Presenting Officer also submitted that COPAC 2008 and 2012 required that teachers uphold standards of professional and personal integrity and that repeated breaches of the criminal law could be relevant in terms of the integrity of a teacher. Although the 2003 Code did not refer to integrity specifically, there was a strong onus within that Code to consider conduct outwith the profession. In the Presenting Officer s submission, the convictions could be seen as a pattern of behaviour because they were related in nature. She asked the Panel to bear in mind that the speeding offence took place in a built up area of Edinburgh. Repeated and persistent breaches of the criminal law could have a bearing on the Respondent s fitness to teach and could undermine the teacher-pupil relationship. The Presenting Officer referred to the IOG and reminded the Panel that it must consider the Respondent s current fitness to teach but must also look at the matter holistically, taking account of wider public protection issues. She referred to the case of Yeong v GMC [2009] EWHC 1923 (Admin) and to whether the conduct was capable of being remedied. She submitted that the convictions were concerning because the Respondent had not only broken the law but the public had been put at risk. There was a question as to whether it was possible for the Respondent to remedy the fact that he had poor responses in terms of driving and what he had done to remedy his conduct. Although undertaking driving sessions could remind him of the technical aspects of driving, the question was whether they could alter his decision-making. Lastly, the Presenting Officer addressed the Panel as to whether there was an overriding public interest in finding the Respondent to be impaired or unfit to teach. She referred the Panel to the factors outlined in the IOG in this respect, to the fact that there should be a deterrent effect, that there is a repetition of behaviour in this case and that the public could lose confidence in the profession if such a finding was not made. She invited the Panel to be careful when considering the character evidence submitted on behalf of the Respondent at this stage in the proceedings. Mr Foulis submitted that the convictions should be viewed in isolation with respect to remediation. The Respondent had expressed regret in relation to charge 1 and it was clear from the tone of his evidence that he had reflected on the convictions. The GP report supported the assertion that the Respondent did not have any issues with alcohol. Mr Foulis invited the Panel to accept the evidence of Mr Ireland as someone who had the experience to identify individuals who would be more risky road users and that, in his view, the Respondent was not one of those individuals. Mr Foulis reminded the Panel that the first conviction took place before the Respondent became a registered teacher and submitted that, accordingly, that conduct should not engage the 2003 Code. The Respondent had pled guilty at the earliest opportunity and the conduct was far removed from the person described by the various witnesses. The Respondent had fully reflected, accepted responsibility for his actions and had made amends for them. Mr Foulis referred to the purpose of rehabilitation for offenders and submitted that it would be out of kilter with that purpose if it was decided that a person could not remedy conduct leading to convictions. 7

8 In this case, there were four offences over a period of years: one related to driving whilst over the legal alcohol limit, which was clearly an error of judgment; one was a speeding conviction, which would not ordinarily have resulted in fitness to teach proceedings; and the remaining two resulted from a clerical error and were strict liability offences. Mr Foulis referred to the fact that none of the offences had been repeated. He submitted that there was no question of the Respondent s integrity because he had accepted his guilt at the earliest possible stage. A number of the witnesses had said that they had no concerns about being in a car driven by him, nor with the Respondent driving a car with their children in it. The Respondent had remedied his conduct and it would not be repeated. Mr Foulis submitted that charge 3 should not engage COPAC 2012 because, if the Respondent s evidence was accepted by the Panel, then there was no culpability on the Respondent s part. The Respondent would not have continued to pay his insurance premiums if he had known that he did not hold a valid driving licence. In relation to charge 3, the Respondent had done all that he could have done to avoid breaching the criminal law: he had immediately spoken to the DVLA and sent away his licence for renewal. The Respondent was a victim of circumstance in respect of this conviction. Mr Foulis submitted that it was appropriate to find no impairment. The Panel could be satisfied that there was no pattern of behaviour which could be seen as a disregard for the criminal law. There was a body of evidence available to the Panel indicating that the conduct would not be repeated. The Panel should take account of the evidence regarding the Respondent as a teacher in determining whether the public interest required a finding of impairment, particularly taking account of the evidence of witnesses indicating that the Respondent is a fine role model to [their] children. Decision The Panel gave careful consideration to all of the evidence presented and submissions made by the parties in relation to the Respondent s fitness to teach. The Panel addressed the relevant considerations, as outlined in the IOG. The Panel noted that the Respondent had been convicted of four separate criminal offences over a period of a number of years. Consequently, the Panel was of the view that, in committing those offences, the Respondent had been guilty of misconduct. However, the offences required to be considered in context. Turning to consider charge 1, the Panel noted that the Respondent had been convicted over 11 years ago. The Panel considered that driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offence. The Panel noted that this offence took place before the Respondent was registered as a teacher in Scotland. The Panel gave consideration to the GTCS Professional Code for Registered Teachers 2003 and considered whether the drink driving conviction breached that Code. The 2003 Code is less detailed than subsequent revised versions but the Panel noted that it included a provision in relation to professional integrity and for teachers to be aware that they are a role model for their pupils and students. In addition, young people may be influenced by the conduct of teachers whether within or outwith the classroom. For this reason, the Panel was of the view that the conduct alleged in charge 1 did fall within the provisions of the 2003 Code. The Respondent s position was that the GTCS was aware of the drink driving conviction when he applied for GTCS registration and there was no contradictory evidence before the Panel. The Panel accepted the Respondent s evidence on this point and for these reasons, in considering fitness to teach, placed little weight on that conviction. In relation to charge 2, the Panel considered that the conduct constituted a breach of sections 1.3 and 1.6 of COPAC Turning to consider the offences in charge 3, the Panel accepted the Respondent s evidence that he was not aware that his licence had been revoked. The Panel took account of the fact that the Respondent s insurance was invalidated due to the fact that he did not have a valid licence. The Panel noted the evidence in the hearing papers from Direct Line which showed that he had been 8

9 insured with them from 2009 to date. The fact that the Respondent had continued to pay his insurance premiums lent weight to his oral evidence that he did not know that his licence had been revoked. The offences in charge 3 are strict liability offences and not offences which require knowledge on the part of the individual concerned before guilt can be established. The Panel accepted that there was no intention on the part of the Respondent to drive without a valid licence or insurance, and so gave little weight to the convictions libelled in charge 3. Nevertheless, the Panel accepted that the offences would contravene sections 1.3 and 1.6 of COPAC The Presenting Officer submitted that the Panel should regard the convictions as showing a pattern of convictions for offences under road traffic law and a disregard for the criminal law. The Panel was of the view that the offences did not constitute such a pattern. In relation to charge 1, the most serious of the offences, it is of some age and there had been no repetition of such an offence. The other two offences constituted contraventions of road traffic law. Whilst the Panel did not condone the behaviour, charge 2 was a minor offence and, for the reasons already given, the Panel accepted the Respondent s position in relation to charge 3 and so gave little weight to that in determining whether there was a pattern of offending behaviour. In the round, the Panel did not consider that one drink driving conviction in 2003 and one speeding conviction in 2009 demonstrated a pattern of behaviour which showed a disregard for the criminal law. The Panel considered whether the shortfalls identified were remediable, had been remedied and whether there was a likelihood of reoccurrence. The Panel considered that the shortfalls were remediable. In relation to charge 1, the Panel was impressed by the reflection and insight shown by the Respondent in relation to the drink driving offence. There had been no repetition of the offence and it was clear from the Respondent s GP that there was no evidence of alcohol misuse at any time. There was also evidence from witnesses led on behalf of the Respondent which demonstrated how seriously he viewed the drink driving conviction, and that there was no likelihood of repetition. Looking at the evidence in the round, the Panel found that there was no likelihood of repetition. The Panel noted that the Respondent had taken steps to have his driving competence assessed. The Panel considered the two driving reports dated 11 January 2015 and 11 May 2015 from Stuart Ireland. His assessment was that the Respondent was an experienced and safe driver who demonstrated only very minor bad habits developed since passing his test more than 25 years previously. In relation to the minor issues identified in the assessment of January 2015, Mr Ireland noted that the Respondent was aware of these and had taken steps to address them. In particular, Mr Ireland noted that he had no concerns in relation to the Respondent s compliance with applicable speed limits. Mr Ireland s evidence was that, in assessing the Respondent, using the experience that he had gained over the years, he detected no sign of recklessness on the part of the Respondent. The Panel accepted the Respondent s evidence that he understood that he required to drive within the speed limit at all times. Accordingly, the Panel found that there no likelihood of repetition. With respect to charge 3, the Panel noted that the Respondent has a valid licence and continues to take steps to ensure that his insurance payments are made timeously. The Panel accepted the Respondent s evidence that the offence in charge 3 arose as a result of an administrative error on the part of the DVLA and, as such, there was no likelihood of a repetition of such an offence. Finally, the Panel considered whether there was an overriding public interest in making a finding that the Respondent s fitness to teach was impaired or that he was unfit to teach. The Panel accepted that convictions can bring the profession into disrepute, can undermine the public s confidence in registrants and in the integrity of the teaching profession. However, having regard to the factors set out in the IOG, the Panel considered that, taking account of the timing, nature and context of the offences, it was not proportionate or necessary to make such a finding in the public interest. In coming to this decision, the Panel placed weight on the evidence from the witnesses attesting to the Respondent s exemplary teaching record. Finally, the Panel considered that the fact that fitness to teach proceedings had been instigated would signal to the public and others 9

10 involved in teaching that it is a serious matter for a teacher to be convicted of an offence. The very fact that proceedings can be taken would, in itself, have a deterrent effect. Accordingly, for the reasons set out above, the Panel determined that the Respondent s fitness to teach is not impaired. Appeal The Respondent will receive written notice of this decision within 14 days and has the right to lodge an appeal with the Appeals Board within 28 days of the date of service of that written notice where he can show that there are grounds to ask for the decision to be reviewed in terms of the Fitness to Teach Panel having either: a) failed to act in accordance with the Fitness to Teach and Appeals Rules; or b) made an error in law or in fact, that has had a significant impact on the decision made. Notwithstanding the Respondent s right to appeal, the decision takes immediate effect. 10

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