Bad Teacher - When Will Classroom ‘Banter’ Get a Teacher Struck-Off?

Bad Teacher - When Will Classroom ‘Banter’ Get a Teacher Struck-Off?

A teacher from Ardrossan Academy in Ayrshire has been struck off for repeatedly making inappropriate comments to pupils.


Michael Rankin, was formerly youth coach with Greenock Morton before taking up his post as a technology teacher at the school. He was struck off for making a string of lewd comments to pupils that amounted to a course of inappropriate conduct.

Furthermore, papers filed with the GTC showed that Mr Rankin had even taken to targeting specific pupils. It was explained by one pupil that he had been calling another pupil “fatty” (quite a lot, it was added). He even wrote “fatty” on a mirror the pupil had made to show the rest of the class, (and presumably the pupil whenever he looked in the aforementioned mirror) that he was “fatty”.

After his hearing with General Teaching Council for Scotland he was proved to have repeatedly used inappropriate language towards pupils as young as 13 during his time at the school.

The panel also made the decision not to allow Mr Rankin to apply to be re-registered as a teacher due to the serious nature of the conduct.

The GTC accepted evidence from pupils about the sexualised and upsetting comments from their teacher before reaching their decision. The council said:

"The various statements, although referring to different elements of this paragraph, were accepted as establishing a pattern of conduct."

But what exactly happens at a Fitness to Teach Panel Hearing? And how do teachers come before it? What can you do if you want to make a complaint about a teacher and what is deemed to make a teacher unfit to teach?

Fitness to Teach Panel Hearings in Scotland – A Quick Guide

  • Fitness to Teach Panel hearings are held to decide whether an applicant for registration or a registered teacher is suitably fit to teach.
  • A person’s fitness to teach is determined by whether they meet the standard of professional conduct and competence expected by GTC Scotland.
  • A Fitness to Teach Panel is made up of a minimum of three people which must be a majority of registered teachers and at a minimum one lay member.
  • Fitness to Teach Panels hold different types of hearings depending on circumstances. There are two main categories – Complaints and Probationary Service.
  • Complaints hearings relate to complaints about the fitness to teach of registered teachers or those who have applied to be a registered teacher.
  • A complaint made against a teacher must be an allegation that the person does not meet standard of conduct and/ or competence expected.
  • The other type of hearing is a Probationary Service Hearing. This  relates to provisional registration only and  is largely concerned with recommendations made by an employer that a provisionally registered teacher's:
    • Provisional registration should be cancelled because it is alleged that they do not meet the of the standard of competence expected; or
    • Probationary service should be extended to give them more time to meet the standard of competence expected.
  • A Probationary Service Hearing will only take place if the teacher concerned has decided to challenge the employer's recommendation.
  • The Code of Professionalism and Conduct sets out the key principles and values for registered teachers and gives guidance as to when a teacher will be deemed to fall short of the standard expected. It can be read here.  

If you have concerns about the conduct of a teacher, consult the GTC website for more information. Or for free employment law advice see our guide here.

If you have concerns about the misfortune of Mr Rankin, you probably shouldn't register to be a teacher.

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