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GTC doesn't need school link to act

COURT convictions can be passed by the employing education authority to the GTC but the main route is an automatic reference through the Scottish Criminal Record Office - even if the teacher is ultimately admonished.

The council deals with around 300 cases a year ranging from trivial incidents such as a fine for neglecting to pay a train ticket to "conduct infamous in a professional respect".

Contrary to assumptions, the offence does not have to be connected with the job or school. A conviction for fraud or assault committed outwith the teacher's work would still be regarded as misconduct capable of bringing the profession into disrepute.

Ivor Sutherland, the GTC's registrar, is empowered to deal with the most trivial cases, in consultation with the chairman of the investigating committee if necessary. The committee is currently chaired by Professor Gordon Kirk, dean of the Moray House education faculty, by virtue of his office as GTC vice-convener.

The committee screens around 60 referrals each year, passing only 15 to 20 of the most serious cases to the disciplinary committee. The investigating committee can also issue a caution, the strength of which can vary.

The final disciplinary court, always chaired by the GTC convener who is currently Norma Anne Watson, a nursery head, can stop short of ordering a striking off.

It can do nothing or it can defer judgment for up to two years when the teacher will be bound over to be of good behaviour.

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