Ex-schools boss on rap over data

Teacher avoids strike-off

Wishaw Press - - BENEFIT CAP BLASTED ABUSE OF TRUST - Ross Thom­son

North La­nark­shire Coun­cil’s for­mer ed­u­ca­tion chief has been rep­ri­manded for pro­vid­ing false data to the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment over teacher num­bers.

The for­mer ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of learn­ing and leisure ser­vices, An­drew Suther­land, ad­mit­ted charges of mis­con­duct af­ter fal­si­fy­ing data to avoid the coun­cil be­ing hit by fi­nan­cial sanc­tions.

Suther­land was sus­pended by the coun­cil in Novem­ber 2015 and re­signed in Fe­bru­ary 2016 in the wake of the al­le­ga­tions.

How­ever, at a Gen­eral Teach­ing Coun­cil for Scot­land dis­ci­plinary hear­ing, Suther­land, a his­tory teacher, avoided be­ing struck off but was rep­ri­manded – which will re­main on his record for six months.

The panel’s sum­mary of the case states: “The an­tic­i­pated fig­ure would not have made the Gov­ern­ment tar­get and would have re­sulted in the coun­cil be­ing hit with a sig­nif­i­cant fine.

“The t e a c h e r ’s in­ten­tion had been to save the coun­cil from embarrassment and a fi­nan­cial penalty.

“He ac­cepted the ser i ous­ness of the al­le­ga­tion.

“He sub­mit­ted that the con­duct was iso­lated and out of char­ac­ter.”

The panel also found that although the al­le­ga­tions against Suther­land were “very se­ri­ous”he had ob­tained favourable ref­er­ences from his cur­rent and past em­ploy­ers.

The panel stated: “The con­duct con­sti­tuted an abuse of a po­si­tion of trust.

How­ever, harm had not been caused to any pupil.

“The teacher had ad­mit­ted the mis­con­duct.

“Fur­ther, the teacher had re­flected on the mat­ter, had shown gen­uine re­morse and had taken steps to re­me­di­ate. In par­tic­u­lar, he had been can­did with his present em­ployer.

“The is­sue rep­re­sented an iso­lated in­ci­dent and there had been no rep­e­ti­tion since nor did the panel con­sider that there was a risk of re­cur­rence.”

In 2015, the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment ’ s then Fi­nance Sec­re­tary John Swin­ney warned coun­cils which failed to main­tain teacher num­bers and their pupil-teacher ra­tio would have their share of a £ 51 mil­lion fund­ing pack­age to boost the fig­ures clawed back.

North La­nark­shire Coun­cil’s an­tic­i­pated f i g u re s f rom 2014 would not have met the Gov­ern­ment tar­get and could have re­sulted in a sig­nif­i­cant fine.

A spokesman for the coun­cil said: “Mr Suther­land no longer works for the coun­cil.

“We do not com­ment on the in­di­vid­ual cir­cum­stances of our em­ploy­ees ei­ther past or present.” Hun­dreds of fam­i­lies in North La­nark­shire have seen their in­comes cut by the new Tory ben­e­fit cap, star­tling new fig­ures have re­vealed.

A to­tal of 553 house­holds have been af­fected, with 301 of these sin­gle par­ent fam­i­lies.

And 71 fam­i­lies have lost out on more than £100 per week af­ter be­ing hit by the UK Gov­ern­ment’s ben­e­fit cap.

MSP for Mother­well and Wishaw, Clare Adam­son has crit­i­cised the “heart­less” Tory aus­ter­ity which she be­lieves is driv­ing up child poverty and de­pen­dence on food­banks.

She said: “North La­nark­shire has been hit hard by the ben­e­fit cap, as well as a host of other Tory wel­fare cuts – in­clud­ing the freeze on work­ing-age ben­e­fits, un­fair sanc­tions and the roll­out of Universal Credit. It is a dis­grace that 71 house­holds have lost out on more than £100 per week, with sin­gle par­ent fam­i­lies in North La­nark­shire be­ing worst hit.

“Our wel­fare sys­tem is meant to be a safety net to help those most in need - in­stead the Tories pun­ish the poor­est in so­ci­ety, tak­ing money from fam­i­lies who are al­ready strug­gling to get by.

“The UK gov­ern­ment should be deeply ashamed of strip­ping the in­come of fam­i­lies across North La­nark­shire and driv­ing up child poverty.”

Last month, the in­de­pen­dent Joseph Rown­tree Foun­da­tion re­vealed that around 230,000 Scot­tish chil­dren are liv­ing in rel­a­tive poverty, claim­ing the rise since 2010 was “mainly due to UK Gov­ern­ment-im­posed so­cial se­cu­rity cuts”.

Anger Wishaw MSP Clare Adam­son

Rep­ri­mand An­drew Suther­land

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