‘Incompetent’ teacher battles to save career

A MATHS teacher sacked for incompetence and struck off the register of professional teachers is going to court in a bid to return to the classroom.

Janet Garner cannot afford a lawyer to represent her. Photograph: John Devlin

Janet Garner, 61, will appear before the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Friday as part of a procedural hearing in a bid to force the General Teaching Council Scotland to review their decision that she is unfit to teach.

The former maths teacher at Alva Academy and Alloa Academy in Clackmannanshire believes that she has been made a scapegoat after raising concerns about a fellow teacher and insists that she was a legitimate “whistleblower”.

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However the General Teaching Council Scotland found in two previous hearings that she was an incompetent teacher who was unable to control her classes, gave punishment ­exercises to pupils who raised their hands to ask questions and once embarrassed a ­probationary teacher by ­saying: “Since Miss ‘A’ can’t be quiet I think she should leave.”

Garner has fought for the past six years for the right to return to the classroom after she was suspended from Alloa Academy in April 2007. Unable to afford a lawyer to represent her, she will be representing herself on Friday at a procedural hearing in Edinburgh, which she hopes will force the GTCS to hold a third investigation into her teaching.

Yesterday she said: “This is a fight for justice. It is a fight to have a case properly heard and for all the evidence to be taken into account. The GTCS has ignored huge amounts of evidence in support of my case and this is not my own evidence but evidence gathered by the GTCS which contradicts the outcome they wanted to achieve so it has just been ­ignored.”

She explained: “I was a teacher in secondary mathematics and I was sacked in ­August 2007 by Clackmannanshire for incompetence. I went to an employment tribunal and I lost that, and then in 2011 I went to the GTC and that was called a disciplinary sub-committee and they ­decided to strike me off and I appealed that to the Court of Session in 2012 and won.

“The judge said that this didn’t look too good and left it up to the GTC to decide if they wanted to have another go and they did and they decided to strike me off the register. What I am now doing is appealing against that decision.”

Yesterday, the GTCS said in a statement: “Mrs Garner has appealed against the decision of a Fitness to Teach Panel taken in November 2013 to direct that her name be removed from the Register. A procedural hearing has been scheduled in this connection for 5 September.”

Kenneth Muir, chief executive of GTCS, said: “GTCS is defending the appeal in this case… which illustrates that GTCS will do everything to ensure high standards are maintained in the Scottish teaching profession.”