Merchiston teacher who slept with students ‘should be named’

The teacher agreed to be struck off at Merchiston Castle School in Colinton.
The teacher agreed to be struck off at Merchiston Castle School in Colinton.

A TEACHER who had sex with boys at a top boarding school should have been publicly named as her misconduct represented the “highest end of severity” - according to a lawyer for the profession’s regulator.

The biology and science teacher, known only as Respondant A, agreed to be struck off for repeatedly sleeping with 17- and 18-year-old pupils during 2014 and 2015 at £29,000-a-year Merchiston Castle in Edinburgh.

Merchiston Castle School in Colinton

Merchiston Castle School in Colinton

The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) agreed not to name the teacher, and wanted the identity of the school kept secret, following representations from her lawyer.

But the GTCS written report on the case has revealed that the lawyer for the regulator, Gillian Sim, strongly argued that identifying her was in the public interest.

The GTCS report revealed that Ms Sim, known as the presenting officer, questioned the medical evidence presented to the panel which said publicity could seriously damage the teacher’s already frail mental health.

It stated: “The presenting officer submitted that the medical report dated December 2015 is out of date and so was of limited use to the panel.

“The GP’s letter dated April 2017 lacked detail regarding the specifics of the respondent’s recent health concerns.

“She submitted that the complaint was at the very highest end of severity and that the abuse of trust was at the highest end of the spectrum.

“The presenting officer submitted that those health concerns must be of an exceptional nature in order to justify acceding to the respondent’s applications.”

Ms Sim asked the panel to reject the request for anonymity.

She is reported as saying: “The panel must balance protection of the respondent against the public interest. In this case, the public interest was not outweighed by the respondent’s interests and so the panel should reject the respondent’s applications.”

Respondent A’s lawyer, Ian Bryce, said the hearing should be held in private and her identity remain anonymous because she was a “vulnerable individual who ought to be protected”.

Mr Bryce told the GTCS there was a direct link between the possibility of publicity and the respondent’s deteriorating mental and physical health.

Mr Bryce also stated that publicity would go “far beyond simple embarrassment to the respondent or an adverse effect on her family members”.

The panel decided that the teacher’s interest outweighed the interests of the public in the hearing being held in public and her name being disclosed.

The panel decided there were “very particular and exceptional circumstances of this case” that meant the teacher’s private life should be protected.

The report reveals that the panel sent a referral to the Scottish Government urging them to ban Respondent A from working with children altogether.

Although the panel refused to identify the school involved, Merchiston Castle was quickly identified as the teacher’s employer.

The school apologised for the way she had acted and said they referred the case to the GTCS as soon as they became aware.

Police investigated the case but no charges were brought, although the Crown Office said it could raise proceedings in future.