A TEACHER arguing that her disciplinary hearing be conducted completely in private yesterday succeeded in getting all discussion about the application itself held in secret.
The decision was taken by a General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) disciplinary panel despite warnings that the move was against the public interest.
The unnamed teacher is set to attend a hearing before the GTCS later this year, where she will face undisclosed charges..
She wants the full hearing to be held in private, and for her name to be anonymised in all pre-hearing notices.
The session yesterday (Wed) was organised to decide whether to grant Respondent A’s application.
The teacher did not attend because of poor health but her lawyer applied for proceedings to be held behind closed doors.
Jamie Foulis, of Balfour and Manson solicitors, told the disciplinary panel: “Most of the evidence that I will be presenting touches on issues concerning my client’s health.
“It would likely be that I would have to omit parts of this evidence during this procedural hearing in the interest of protecting my client, if this hearing were to be held in public.”
The presenting officer for the GTCS opposed the move, telling the panel: “It would not be in the public interest to hold this hearing in private. I believe that to maintain the faith of the public the hearing should be held in public, as is the default.”
A press representative argued: “It would make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for us to put forward a strong argument for the full hearing to be held in public without knowing the full details of the case, which will be discussed today.
“There has been mention of issues concerning health but as the press we are not out to expose the health issues of teachers – instead to ensure that they are being held accountable for their actions.
“I am here to represent the press and public, and ensure that the GTCS is maintaining a high standard of holding teachers in Scotland to account.
“I fail to see how we can do that if all procedural matters are also held in private.”
The panel discussed the issue in private before announcing that the hearing would continue in private.
Kerr Wilson, convenor of the panel, said: “In order to make a fully informed decision we would need to hear all available evidence from the representatives.
“Therefore we have decided that today’s hearing should be held in private.”