GTCS's 'duty to probe all complaints'

15th December 2006 at 00:00
the general Teaching Council for Scotland must investigate complaints about teachers from the public - even if they are potentially vexatious, it has been told.

John Anderson, the GTCS's head of professional practice, told the council at its meeting last week that it had a legal obligation to the public.

The discussion arose after it emerged that the GTC in Scotland is dealing with an increasing number of complaints that have already been investigated and cleared by employers, often causing considerable stress to teachers.

Ephraim Borowski, convener of the investigating sub-committee and former head of philosophy at Glasgow University, believes the GTCS should be the ultimate professional sanction for teachers.

"We have a bigger stick to wield than local authorities, because we can take a teacher out of the profession," he said.

"If a local authority and the police say there is no case to answer, there should be no room for us to consider that case."

But Mr Anderson said the GTCS had little choice because of its constitution. "Our system may be open to quasi-abuse, but we must work in the public interest. We cannot take a decision made elsewhere, and rubber stamp it. " James Forbes, a secondary teacher member of the council, said he was "wary of us placing great weight on what other bodies say".

"I am not always happy with the standard of impartiality I see in local authority investigations," he said.

He also said justice demanded that people should know who had accused them, and of what, at every stage of the process.

Mr Anderson stressed there were only a dozen such complaints each year from members of the public.

Mr Borowski suggested that, with a repeat accusation, the letter notifying the teacher of the investigation could indicate it had already been investigated by the council.

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