Garner v General Teaching Council for Scotland

May 1st, 2012 by Peter Oldham QC

Section 12 of the Teaching Council (Scotland) Act 1965 gives the right of appeal to the Court of Session against decisions of the General Teaching Council for Scotland. In Garner v General Teaching Council for Scotland [2012] CSIH 39 (13th April 2012), the appellant was a maths teacher accused of incompetence. The appellant, appearing in person, alleged that the Discplinary Committee had made 113 errors of law.

The Court said that were two questions for the Committee: whether the appellant had “been guilty of serious professional incompetence” and, if so, and if the Committee (as it did) was considering whether to remove her name from the register, whether the nature of the incompetence is such as to warrant that step.

The Court of Session found that the Committee’s decision entirely failed to indicate that it had dealt with important statistical evidence related to pupils’ results. There was a conflict of evidence on the point, so that Lord Osborne said “we are at a loss to understand how proper conclusions on those matters could have been reached”. The Court also held that there was a more wide-ranging failure by the Committee to advert to other, voluminous evidence.

In essence this was a reasons challenge. But note that the Court (as it expressly pointed out) was exercising a truly appellate, rather than supervisory, jurisdiction, making it easier for the appeal to succeed. But the failings were such that, even in a supervisory role, a Court would probably have allowed the appeal.

Peter Oldham QC

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